Interview with KHS principal Leila Staffler

What’s the most important role of school?

Schools are the center of every community. It is a place to learn and grow, a place to celebrate accomplishments and overcome failures. It is a place to connect the youth with the community and prepare the youth to become the future leaders of that community.

How often do KHS graduates contact you? (Do they thank you?)

I actually get contacted several times a year! Often, it is to share developments of what they are doing and where they are now. Sometimes they ask about openings. I LOVE FINDING ALUMNI WHO WANT TO TEACH.

What is your dream (perfect) school or vision of a classroom?

I like the idea of project-based schools, they also scare me because I don’t know enough about how to make it work … YET. I have a friend teaching at a place called Discovery High School in Oregon that is shaping my vision. But ideally, a dream school and dream classroom is a place where all learners feel safe to explore their interests and have the resources and support to be successful.

What quality do you value the most in students?

I value their ability to be innovative and find solutions outside of the box. I value their bravery to take chances in their learning. I value the relationships we build together.

Leila Staffler

What teaching style do you think is most effective?

I believe the only thing that makes a teaching style effective is a strong foundation of relationships that are built at the start of any course. Before you can effectively teach any content, you have to establish relationships in your class. I don’t want to confuse teaching styles with strategies. Strategies are not styles. How you execute a strategy might be your style, but it is not the strategy that establishes the style. There are strategies that are more effective than others; cooperative learning for example is proven through research to be more effective than lecture-based strategies. Grouping students in groups of 2-4 with specified roles is more effective than individual learning and in groups larger than five according to all leading research. These are all strategies important to planning any lesson, and we haven’t even gotten to content yet!

Has Super Typhoon Yutu greatly affected KHS’ school schedule?

Not so much as we are started back up on full day and will continue to be full day until further notice. We did lose our half day Fridays for teacher in-service training.

Will school events be cancelled due to Super Typhoon Yutu?

Not all school events. We even held our pep rally before break as planned, just with a little bit different format. We are reorganizing our plans, but not canceling things yet.

How will Super Typhoon Yutu affect learning?

The internet is the most affected at this point because we don’t have access until the MHS campus power is full up and running. We have a limited internet access plan at this time, but it is not at all what we were used to.

Can students benefit from Super Typhoon Yutu in any way?

So many students shared with me about benefits they got from this experience! They benefitted from seeing their environmental class topics come to life! Conservation of water and other resources is super important after a typhoon. I remember students sharing about how much more time they spent with their families because they ate together and were less distracted by electronics. Most importantly, I know many students contributed to the relief efforts through community service activities across the islands. EVERYONE BENEFITS FROM COMMUNITY SERVICE! The people receiving it of course, but those giving community service, those benefits are priceless and long lasting. The relationships built from this disaster through community service is a huge benefit for all.

What is the best motto for students when they deal with the damage from Typhoon Yutu?

You too, can overcome disasters. Stay positive and focused, and you will overcome.

ALEX MEGINO, KHS 9TH GRADE STUDENT Author

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