Island School’s curriculum is based on Expected Schoolwide Learning Results (ESLRs).
ESLRs include 12 significant competencies that are the guiding force in the design of curriculum in all subjects and disciplines from kindergarten through grade 12. These grew from the Mission Statement, are based on Howard Gardner’s ideas about multiple intelligences, and are continually reviewed and adjusted by faculty and administration to ensure their relevancy and efficacy.
Island School’s mission statement, philosophy, policies, and 12 ESLRs guide the development of the elementary curriculum and all of its programs. The curriculum teaches to the whole child through language arts, math, science, social studies, art, music, Hawaiian studies, technology, social skills training, physical education, and health education. It is designed to meet all of the intelligence areas according to Howard Gardner: verbal-linguistic, math-logic, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic.
Experienced and dedicated elementary teachers implement research-based practices and focus on the continuous improvement of each child’s knowledge and skills. For example, a multi-age teaching approach in math and language arts is in place to ensure that all students’ academic needs are met. A low student to teacher ratio with small classes, a steady focus on the growth of the individual student, and meaningful experiential activities both within and outside the classroom all contribute to high-quality learning at the elementary level.
The middle level program at Island School, which includes grades 6-8, addresses the particular needs of pre-adolescent students as they transition from elementary to high school. The middle level curriculum is driven by Island School’s mission statement, philosophy, policies, and 12 ESLRs. The instructional program includes courses in language arts, math, science, social studies, foreign language, visual and performing arts, Hawaiian studies, computer science, physical education, and health education.
Students have opportunities to advance academically based on performance and readiness. The middle school program cultivates the joy of learning, teaches students to manage the increasing demands of secondary education, and reinforces both the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards of effort and accomplishment. The middle level program supports students as they move toward increased independence in their lives. Faculty members teach to the whole student with a focus on Howard Gardner’s defined areas of intelligence. In addition, self-awareness, self-management, community skills, study skills, clarification of personal values, and emotional intelligence are all part of students’ personal and academic development. The middle school focuses on the development of healthy habits and best practices for personal and academic success in high school.
Island School’s high school offers a rigorous college-preparatory program that prides itself on both its comprehensive curriculum and individualized instruction. Our faculty continuously provides thought-provoking, critical challenges and regularly adapt their lesson plans and knowledge to the needs of their students on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.
While attending Island School, students are required to perform 20 hours of community service per year and take college-preparatory classes in all of the following: language arts, mathematics, science, history, foreign language, visual and performing arts, computer science, Hawaiian history, and physical education.
Students are challenged to test their intellectual boundaries through honors courses and in college courses at the nearby Kaua‘i Community College. Exceptional students are also challenged to take online classes at Stanford University. Each year, about 30% of graduating seniors have taken at least one AP exam.
As sophomores, students are required to complete a three-part Sophomore Project that begins with a thesis in American Literature, continues with a position paper in U.S. History, and culminates in a round-table discussion facilitated by the entire humanities faculty. This comprehensive project illuminates and combines many universal themes found in both American Literature and History and is a testament to the type of team-teaching and collaboration that occurs amongst dedicated faculty. As seniors, students complete an independent senior research project in an area they are most passionate about.
From inception through completion, the seniors are responsible for designing, researching, and presenting a thesis, experiment, or problem/solution model. Meeting at regular intervals with faculty members and community mentors, students become experts in their chosen fields and verify their expertise in a teacher-led interview. All seniors must then present their findings to the community in a thirty-minute presentation. Only after a successful interview and presentation may an Island School student earn his/her high school diploma.
Island School believes that enrichments are essential for every student’s complete development and education. Arts programs strive to expose all students to creative experiences through various mediums and content areas – visual arts, theater arts, music, computer technology, Hawaiian studies, and physical education. Integration of the arts into other subject areas is encouraged and facilitated as faculty seek to foster and develop students’ risk-taking, initiative, and confidence in artistic endeavors and expressions.
The strength of arts education at Island School lies in its performance-based curriculum. Arts education and experiences are viewed as necessary for all students’ academic, personal, and emotional growth. Students in elementary, middle, and high school engage in enrichment experiences. Classes in art, music, computer technology, Hawaiian Studies, drama, and physical education begin in pre-kindergarten and are components of every students’ education through grade five. Middle School students are enrolled in a year-long physical education class and have the opportunity to select visual arts, music, drama, or computer technology electives. High school enrichment electives incorporate a range of choices including ceramics, drawing, art history, ukulele, music theory, chorus, piano, improvisation, acting, play production, hula, ballroom dancing, yoga, weight training, robotics, video production, and digital media. Each year major performing and visual arts events are produced by Island School students and staff, including Art Day and May Day. The annual calendar also includes two large-scale choral concerts, 2-3 drama productions, exhibitions at local art galleries, and participation in local and statewide art competitions.
Enrichments are integral to the Island School experience and are designed to expose students to performance-based experiences. These are created to increase cultural awareness, engage students in higher-level thinking skills, foster and expand their creativity, and enhance their lives both in and beyond school.