A New Vision at Seabury Hall

Seabury Hall is celebrating 55 years of education on Maui, and the commitment to transforming their community has never been stronger. Maureen Madden, the new Head of School, along with new Upper School Divisional Head Stephen Rothkopt, and Director of Teaching and Learning, Dr. Craig Ross, are working with other members of the school’s veteran leadership, to inspire and energize the faculty to reconsider how they teach, collaborate, and shape a lasting journey for Seabury students.

“My experience has been that when the faculty is empowered, it’s amazing what can happen,” says Madden, who is originally from New Jersey, and has spent the last nine years leading the American School in Milan.

One immediate focus is on teacher development, where teachers can improve their knowledge, skill, and effectiveness.

“We have a rolling professional development program (during the school year), where teachers don’t have to wait until spring break or summer to take classes. I feel this is important because when teachers come back from a good professional development class, they don’t want to wait, they are excited about implementing what they’ve learned and sharing it with colleagues. We even have two teachers and Dr. Ross on Oahu today, learning about Next Generation Science Standards. “

Sharing and communicating with each other is high on Madden’s list, and the Next Generation Science Standards, which are aimed for grades 6-12, is an exciting place to start. It’s an opportunity for the Seabury Hall science faculty to move towards a more collaborative and integrated educational model where science teachers from different grade levels will have ongoing communication about the projects and content of each class through scheduled faculty meetings. These meetings will allow for collaborative conversations, evaluations, and inspiration, and is an essential piece for effective instruction that looks at the whole journey of a student’s science experience. A 9th-grade teacher will begin their school year knowing exactly what subject matter was covered, and how it was covered in the previous year, resulting in a seamless continuation of teaching the new standards. Teachers would be conscious of past teaching projects and could re-immerse students in a deepening understanding of that particular subject through the more advanced standards of the higher grade level. The possibilities are endless when teachers collaborate with each other.

Seabury will be the first school in Hawaii to offer the new College Board Pre-AP (Advance Placement) classes, which underscores the importance of cohesive and continuous student development. AP courses are standardized high school courses (typically taken in junior and seniors years) that are closely equivalent to college courses and offer rigorous learning with real-world applications, and clear, persuasive writing. They can also earn a student college credits. The College Board has instituted Pre-AP courses for lower grades to prepare students in their journey towards the college curriculum. Seabury Hall will be implementing Pre-AP classes for grades 9 and 10, and it will even be possible for highly able grade 8 students to participate.

“The instruction develops skills for students to be able to take AP classes successfully”, says Madden, “it’s a targeted curriculum to prepare students with the learning skills to be successful in AP, and is a good curriculum even if they don’t do AP classes later on, because it really prepares them on how to learn, and how to think. Plus, it gives more students access to the regular AP courses since they will be well prepared. Some 8th graders will be able to take these classes as well, if they are at that level. And our new schedule will allow us to move students according to ability rather than age, in certain areas. If a student excels in a subject, they can move up and be challenged”.

In addition to Pre-AP, Seabury expects to launch AP Capstone, which is a diploma program that focuses on research, analysis, evidence-based arguments, collaboration, writing, and presenting, rather than subject-specific content. This is independent work, which is project-based, and encompasses skills that are valued and recognized by colleges. It unifies the AP program by introducing seminar and research components to completed AP work, continuing the depth and scope of learning. It’s a student-centered curriculum that allows for creativity and student direction. Seabury Hall will have more information about its launch in January of 2020.

The scheduling changes that allow for students to create their path for passionate and curious learning is also characterized in early student admission dates, and its related teacher hiring dates. Admission dates were moved up this year to add early admission to the calendar, enabling parents to know about acceptance as early as mid-December. Moving up the admission process allows the school to know exactly where they are with enrollment, which cascades into other aspects of educating students.

“If we know what our numbers are early, we can hire the best teachers, we can plan better, we can schedule better, and we and give new teachers the transition they need to be the best. They can study our curriculum, talk to people on the staff, they can plan, and we can talk to them about exactly what they will be teaching. It makes all the difference in the world. And of course, parents want to know early!” explains Madden.

In a nod to parents, Madden believes that continuously open grade books encourage parent-teacher involvement and discussion about a student’s progress. As long as parents aren’t continuously checking grades online, knowing what’s happening with schoolwork at home can be monitored with completed work and scores in the grade book. Parents can email teachers about questions they have. “The transparency of open grade books keeps the conversations going between parents, students, and teachers,” explains Madden, “parents can shoot an email to teachers about questions they have and discuss them.”

Seabury Hall’s excitement with campus unity and student/staff participation will be highlighted on December 6th from 5 pm to 7 pm at the First Annual Seabury Hall-iday Lights for Charity Event. Seabury encourages families to visit for a tree lighting ceremony, cocoa and cookies, Christmas leis to the first 300 attendees, pictures with surfin’ Santa, stories with Mrs. Claus, and roving musical performances by the school’s band, chorus, and Hawaiian ensemble. There will be a map and schedule, so families will know what time events are happening at different locations around campus.

Seabury Hall students and staff will team up in their respective groups for a healthy competition of the best holiday decorated building on the campus’s “holiday neighborhood.” The public will be invited to vote for their favorite by making a donation to a local non-profit specially chosen by students and faculty. Choices include Children’s Justice Center of Maui, Hospice Maui, Ka Hale a Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers, Maui Friends of the Library, Maui Humane Society, Pacific Cancer Foundation, and Pono Academy.

“We have been encouraging and guiding teachers to use a student centered instructional model, so it’s not the teacher lecturing, it’s the students really engaged in the learning and driving the learning. This event is a great example of that model,” says Madden, “the kids come together, they make the decisions, decide how they’re going to do it, who’s going to be responsible for different aspects. Here’s the goal; how are we going to get it done. They have to work together on this, and they have to come to a consensus. All of it is student centered and guided by faculty advisors. The teachers got behind it because it was a learning opportunity. It wasn’t just an excuse to get out of class and decorate a building. The students asked, ‘is the faculty going to get a building?’ I said ‘yes!’ and they said, ‘bring it on!'”

The event will be filled with lots of festivities, good competition to go around, and will allow families to see the energy and excitement Seabury Hall brings to their student body. Read More Here.

Madden is thrilled with the pace of the changes, the school’s ability to facilitate them, and the energy it’s generating. When the transformation comes from the faculty and students, the school will be a success.

“What’s really exciting [for me] is when teachers come into my office and say, ‘we’re doing this, what if…’ and they want to take it to the next level. That’s what you want from a teacher”.

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