One of our main goals at PKS is to foster a lifelong passion for learning and exploration, not only among our students but also among our parents, faculty, and staff. A few weeks ago, however, the pedagogical team wanted to try something innovative and engaging to provide our faculty and staff with a different type of professional development (PD) opportunity; something we call “Pinterest Live” or “Old School Pinterest.”
As many of you know, I have a P3 student here at PKS, and a 2 year old son whom I hope will join us when he is old enough. Both kids were in the car with me on Thursday morning as I tuned in to the Judiciary Committee hearings in which Dr. Christine Blasey Ford courageously told her story. I found myself feeling confused, and a bit helpless, as I tried to balance my civic impulses and my fatherly impulses.
Almost ten years ago, I wrote an article titled "Academic Rigor and Student Engagement: A Perfect Match." While many feared that they would need to sacrifice student engagement in the service of academic rigor, I argued strongly that academic rigor could ONLY genuinely come together with student engagement, and that truly rigorous learning at its core needed to be about exploration, discovery, creativity, inquiry, and pattern recognition.
PKS was invited to Washington, DC as part of a symposium on immersion education. Seven of our faculty members visited four schools, deepening their knowledge of best practices while sharing some of their own unique insights. Our expertise on how to integrate Mandarin immersion within a progressive framework was noted as "the only model out there combining data-based immersion practices with rigorous PBL."
Our community celebration welcoming the Year of the Dog was PKS's largest-ever Chinese New Year event, with almost 900 people in attendance. Organized over the course of several months by a parent-led committee chaired by Monica Savini, the event featured art, activities, food, fun, and at the center of it all, the joyous performances of each PKS class on stage in the beautifully restored venue adjacent to our campus, Saint Joseph's, where we were hosted by proprietor Ken Fulk.
The benefits of a bilingual education (and of a bilingual brain!) are well-documented. They range from positive correlations with executive functioning in the brain to advantages in staving off the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
Head of Preschool Simona Chongo and Oaktree (P2) teacher Cecilia Wang facilitated a session for parents focused on understanding children’s mathematical development in the preschool years.
Our goals each year include problem solving, critical thinking, and improving social skills. We provide ample opportunities for children to do hands on projects, based on their own interests, we provide children with engaging materials, and ask them questions to provoke their thinking.
With the same nurturing and joy embodied in our mission and experienced in our classrooms, we involve parents in the cycle of inquiry through small group activities that provide an experience similar to their child’s.
I am absolutely thrilled at the prospect of becoming your next Head of School in July 2018. I would like to thank all of the students, teachers, staff, parents and board members that took the time to meet with me during my visit to school and with whom I have interacted over the last few weeks. I especially appreciated the time I spent in Chinese answering the most challenging questions of all – from the PKS third graders!
Chris Livaccari, a distinguished language immersion educator, Mandarin scholar, Mandarin speaker, and author, has been named our next Head of School by unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees. Among the highly talented candidates who visited the school in recent months, Chris stood out for his commitment to educational excellence and his deep knowledge of and involvement in Mandarin language learning on an international scale. Chris’s bright vision for PKS’s future and his inquisitive, warm, down-to-earth style made him the ideal match for our school.
After only a year, the Orsini Library has doubled its previous collection and now holds almost 3000 Chinese and English titles! This was made possible by the powerhouse team of volunteers at Presidio Knolls, led by parents Vivian Looi and James Huff. Their efforts have made it possible for all children level P2 to Grade 4 to regularly borrow books and integrate library time into their weekly curricula.
There is no instruction manual on how to teach children. Children don’t need to follow anyone to explore the world. Instead, we focus on children’s learning processes and experiences, not on pushing children to remember all the academic material. Teachers and children observe, find questions, search for the result and solve issues together; building knowledge and gaining new experiences while learning from each other.
This kind of natural evolution is a planned accident. “We don’t have a curriculum for the whole school year planned out,” says Daisy. “We have basic skills and goals that we want to develop, and we follow the children’s interests.”
Concurrent with the ongoing Rectory renovation project, the PKS Master Plan team has recently kicked off the architectural schematic design work for the new Front and Back buildings that will surround the main campus courtyard. We look forward to sharing these designs in the coming months.