Samantha Weigel/Daily Journal
Dr. Tekakwitha Pernambuco-Wise during P.E. time at Sea Crest School in Half Moon Bay. Athletics co-director Craig Strong is in the background.
There’s a fresh face at the K-8 Sea Crest School in Half Moon Bay who hopes to promote more than higher education, she hopes to impart a sense of civic duty. Dr. Tekakwitha Pernambuco-Wise, the new head of school at Sea Crest, is collaborating with parents, teachers and students to incorporate service-learning into their curriculum.
“I would bet, if someone did a study, that children from a young age understand the concept that ... to whom much is given, much is expected in return. I think that children who have that concept instilled in them from a young age also do that as adults,” Pernambuco-Wise said.
Pernambuco-Wise has studied and worked in multiple countries overseeing a range of students from kindergarten to high school. Making early childhood education joyous while teaching them resiliency will ignite lifelong learning, Pernambuco-Wise said.
Pernambuco-Wise has bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Brown University, a master’s degree from the University of Toronto and a doctorate in educational leadership from St. Mary’s College.
She credits her achievements to her upbringing in British Guiana by parents who promoted altruistic values. Her father taught her that success isn’t about external definitions; it’s about being successful in what you’re passionate about, Pernambuco-Wise said. Today’s generation strives toward the paradigm of leaving the world better than when they found it, Pernambuco-Wise said.
“Young people want to make a difference in the world and that is more important to them than making a lot of money or the traditional definition of success,” Pernambuco-Wise said.
The philanthropy and activism of those at Sea Crest inspires Pernambuco-Wise. When a parent informed her the city of Half Moon Bay was looking for organizations to adopt various parks, she suggested Sea Crest adopt Poplar Beach, Pernambuco-Wise said.
Every month, a different grade will head to Poplar to groom the beach for trash and learn hands-on how to be stewards of the environment, Pernambuco-Wise said.
The traditional lecture system doesn’t work for all children, but most benefit from interacting with tactile objects, Pernambuco-Wise said. Sea Crest is in the process of constructing its innovation lab, which will include a 3-D printer, laser cutter, tools and other collaborative materials, Pernambuco-Wise said.
Eventually, she hopes to open the innovation lab to the public to strengthen ties to the community, Pernambuco-Wise said.
Educators are preparing children for a future with unknown challenges, Pernambuco-Wise said; so teaching core skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration will help a pupil’s competency, creativity and character. She’s initiated a breakfast club and invited principals from local private and public schools to share ideas about how to help the youth, Pernambuco-Wise said.
“We’re all educators and I firmly believe that there is a school for each child. There are some children who will thrive in the public school system, there are some children who will thrive [at Sea Crest] and there are some children who will thrive in a different kind of school. There’s a different kind of school for different pupils,” Pernambuco-Wise said.
Children’s lives are very structured and can sometimes result in fatigue and stress, Pernambuco-Wise said. Making school a joyous activity and creating an environment that encourages a child to use their imagination will help them become self-sufficient and successful, Pernambuco-Wise said.
“Teaching children that character is vital is important, because [they’re] going to have to make choices when we’re not around,” Pernambuco-Wise said. “And how they make those choices and the kinds of choices they make will effect, for some of them, the world that we’re in.”