Our New  Superintendent

Mark Hannum.jpg

MICHAEL HANNUM

Philosophy of Education

I stepped into education with a purpose; I wanted to make school a grander experience for each student I encountered.  I hated high school as a youth, but I loved college. I loved the experience of being made to think and the challenge it generated in my personal development as a person.  I wanted to be a teacher that made his students think beyond themselves and challenge them to take an active part in their development as adults. Most of my motivation came through a mentor professor, Dr. Lotus.  A Lithuanian immigrant whose father was an alcoholic because the Communist government compensated his low wages with a free, weekly bottle of vodka for working in the factory, Dr. Lotus began teaching in a Detroit inner-city school and was driven to becoming a professor of education by his desire to see every student equipped with enough education to conquer every obstacle they would face.  I was inspired by his perspective and his passion for education and what I believed it could do in preparing children for success in a global society. His passion for each child and commitment to build on their gifts molded my philosophy of education; centering it around an authentic development of the whole child, body, mind, and soul, though play, academic rigor and solid exposure to philosophical and religious thought.   

I believe play should be incorporated in all levels of education.  Recess, physical education and athletics are integral to child development.  Play offers students multiple opportunities for social development, physical exercise, healthy competition and leadership.  While I have advocated the curricular connections of math and science in our PE and athletic classes, I have more rigorously promoted the concepts of fairness, sportsmanship and leadership.  Our athletes and cheerleaders are the face of the school, prompting inclusive behavior modeled through encouraging those who otherwise feel shunned by their peers and exemplifying citizenship in school and out.  These students become the welcome committee for community events and my coaches serve as role models of leadership and positive interaction. This philosophy has created unity throughout my staff and decreased the disciplinary issues once the norm for athletes.

I also believe academics must be relevant and rigorous; however, these terms take on various connotations in public school.  For me, relevance encompasses a genuine pulse of what awaits each child as they leave school. For example, technology played a huge part for me even twenty years ago.  My students made use of computer labs before it was popular. From teaching students how to utilize the internet to expand their personal exposure to a world of knowledge to encouraging my teachers to utilize technology for enhancing the effectiveness of their instruction, education with and through technology became one of most relevant tools of education.  This also led to the relevance of further education concerning social behavior whether face-to-face or through social media.

Concerning rigor, my focal point remains on challenging students through their gifts and talents.  In a world where rigor has meant challenging the below average while ignoring the gifted, dumbing down became the norm.  I believe each child comes with a set of gifts and unique talents.  This belief is largely a result of my exposure to Dr. Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (MI) Theory and my training as a Gallup Strengths Coach.  While MI Theory has meant being able to challenge my lowest student while equally challenging the most gifted students, Strengths Coaching allows me to encourage students and staff to adapt their unique talents into strengths leading to utmost personal achievement.  I believe we should build relationships with our students and their families to the point of genuinely knowing each students obvious and hidden gifts and talents, then use that knowledge to build daily opportunities that challenge students to excel in every endeavor.

However, I believe success confined to the classroom unless tied to opportunities for exposure to philosophy, imagination and creativity is shallow.  Classical literature once was the means of guiding students through philosophical thought and development of imaginative dexterity. I believe exposure to opportunities for exercising the imagination and operating in an environment promoting creativity kindles exploration in the mind of students linked to their original pursuit of answers to why.  I attempt to challenge teachers to embrace principals of classical education, namely Trivium/Quadrivium, to fill the gaps created by most systems.  The result being a child which develops a profound world view that plays a crucial role in their maturity as adults.

In conclusion, my philosophy of education centers on the development of the whole child; an endeavor crucially linked to inspiring a love for learning as part of growing into the person he or she can ultimately be.  I appall limitations and seek avenues of challenging students to the edges of their capability. And, I believe these essential to their personal success as optimal human beings.