Head of School Blog

IMPACT Term Reflection

A Reflection on High School I-Term

I had the privilege of participating in one of Le Jardin Academy's signature education activities last week. By joining a dozen juniors and seniors in their I-Term experience, I intended to gain insight into the differing perspectives on the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project, in particular the Kiaʻi perspective on ʻāina through interviews and experiences on the ‘āina at Volcano National Park, Waipiʻo and Waimanu Valleys. For many reasons, I-Term was a tremendous experience, and I am deeply grateful to our students for inviting me to participate.

What is the High School I-Term?

IMPACT Term (I-Term) is intended to be a student-driven educational experience through which students complement their intellectual understanding through personal experiences and service with the ultimate goal of impacting their personal growth or bettering the community and world in which they live. In the process of designing, planning and executing their I-Term, students acquire or strengthen their ability to communicate, collaborate, research, plan and self-manage. The teacher's role is facilitative and supervisory: to ensure that activities are safe, to provoke salient conversations where blindspots might exist and to ensure that activities are accessible to all.

What I Learned on I-Term

The lessons learned  literally fill pages in my journal. In sum, I-Term helped me: to know our school better through the lives of our students; to understand the Kia’i perspective on TMT in a personal way; to reconnect with the magnificence of our surroundings and our powerlessness compared with the forces of nature; and to see the uniqueness of each member of our team and the way in which they accepted and engaged diversity in their midst.  

I-Term also made me reflect on the extent to which I express aloha in my daily interactions. The aloha I express is less true in spirit than the aloha shown to us on Moku o Keawe (Hawaiʻi lsland). The examples are many but one should suffice. Our hosts, Hayden and Kate Atkins, not only allowed us to camp on their undeveloped land north of Hilo, but they took the time and effort to build a compost toilet facility, to provide potable water and tentage during our stay and to orient us to issues and protocol in preparation for our visit to Mauna Kea. They made these arrangements despite having “day-jobs” to which they attended and having little in the way of personal resources. We were virtual strangers to them; yet, they welcomed us as family. Hayden and Kate inspired me to find strength to live my life in keeping with the culture in which I was raised. They helped me to become reacquainted with who I am as a child of this land that I might share it with others here at LJA and wherever life’s journey takes me. I am grateful to our students for allowing me to share in this impactful set of experiences. Me ke mahalo!