Punahou has launched its new Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), which provides personalized support for the continuous growth, development and renewal of faculty.
Professional growth and development are key strategic initiatives for the School, according to President Mike Latham ’86. “Teaching is the most important thing we do at Punahou, and as teachers we all seek to grow, learn and improve throughout our careers. The Center for Teaching and Learning provides a vital source of support for that endeavor,” he says. “Through the CTL’s professional development and coaching, our faculty learn how to lead better and more vibrant student discussions, promote project-based learning, define and assess goals for critical thinking and create more inclusive classrooms. At a school committed to academic excellence and educating the whole person, this work is integral to our mission.”
The CTL empowers educators to attain their development goals through a series of hands-on activities, which include facilitating collaboration among teachers; providing on-campus workshops and training; hosting visits from educational leaders; leading book clubs; curating research and resources; coordinating and guiding teaching and learning grants, sabbaticals and fellowships; and connecting Punahou faculty with local, national, and global learning opportunities.
“I am excited with the possibilities that lie ahead,” says Director Candace Kodani ’92 Cheever. “We live in a rapidly changing world, which makes professional learning critical for our teachers. The entire Punahou community benefits from initiatives like this because highly trained teachers ultimately optimize learning excellence for the children of Kapunahou.”
“At a school committed to academic excellence and educating the whole person, this work is integral to our mission.”
– President Mike Latham ’86
Having these enriching professional experiences come to fruition is a big task – luckily, there are many helping hands. “I am fortunate to have an incredible team to ensure the work happens,” Cheever says. “And it is also a great partnership among the principals and me to align faculty learning with curricular developments.”
A Long Legacy
Although reimagined and renamed, the origin of the CTL dates back to 1971 when the School established an earlier iteration called the Department of Instructional Services, led by Siegfried Ramler.
“According to Diane Anderson, the CTL’s Director from 1995 – 2008, President Rod McPhee created the initiative to take care of the ‘odds and ends of K – 12 administration,’” Cheever explains. “The role evolved under President Jim Scott, who described its purpose as ‘a professional development program that would serve K – 12 teachers and increase their capacity to be creative and informed to address the changing understandings and circumstances of our students and to create a coherent K – 12 curriculum and instructional program.’”
Cheever says she feels honored to be part of this deep history of professional development at the School. “I consider previous leaders, Diane Anderson, Bruce Schauble, Ruth Fletcher, and Cathy Kawano-Ching, to be influential mentors of mine.”
Some of the aspects Cheever enjoys most about her new role is serving as a listener, learner, synthesizer and facilitator. “I think that style of leadership works well at Punahou since we have such talented, thoughtful, passionate people here,” she says. “We work best when their strengths are maximized and embraced.”
Making a Big Splash
In February, when the CTL hosted its first Professional Development Day for all K – 12 faculty, Cheever showcased Punahou’s strategic initiative of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB). The day focused on promoting an understanding of implicit bias – and generating strategies to foster a sense of belonging among the student body.
Belonging is a key initiative for the School because it relates to a person’s internal sense of connection to a community, organization or institution. “We were lucky to partner with Allison Briscoe-Smith ’94,” Cheever says. “As a clinical psychologist, educator and author with expertise in racialized trauma she was very effective in distilling this complex topic.”
Following this presentation, a series of other professional learning afternoon meetings were featured – also around the theme of belonging. One of the sessions was with Jeff Perrotti, the founding director of the Safe Schools program for LGBTQ+ students, and Landon Callahan, an educational consultant, public speaker and advocate for transgender rights. The CTL has sponsored other well-attended events in recent months, ranging from workshops to book clubs.
The Road Ahead
There are big plans in store for the CTL. “The pandemic necessitated an intense focus on professional development and innovation around online learning. But the needs have evolved as the student population is back to in-person instruction.” Cheever says. “What has really inspired me this year is seeing intrinsic motivation to learn returning to campus. Teachers seem excited to learn, grow and collaborate with each other.”
The Center for Teaching and Learning is supported by the C. N. Wodehouse Faculty Benefit Trust and by many generous donors and endowed funds.
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