ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY’s last Elementary assembly of the year was a laughter and tear-filled changing of the guard as students and teachers said e komo mai to incoming Principal Samantha Hodes-Der and a hui hou to outgoing Principal Steve Ross. Ross, who started at IPA in August 2012, will be taking on a new position as IPA’s Assistant Head of School next year to focus on school curriculum and culture across grades K-12.
“It has truly been my honor to work alongside our amazing teachers to do good work that will make a difference in the lives of our students, and as a result, in our world,” Ross shared with the Elementary teachers and students, who were all dressed in Spiderman shirts and colors and seated throughout the elementary foyer and up the stairs and through the hallways.
During the assembly, Ross welcomed Hodes-Der with a beautiful painting titled A New Journey created by Ashley Faulkner, husband of Grade 4 teacher Saʻo Faulkner. The elements in the painting each symbolized the different parts of the new journey she will embark on next year.
“We have something special for you, and we know you will find a special place for this painting made especially for you,” Ross told Hodes-Der as he unveiled the piece. “Much care went into creating this painting, so let me tell you about its meaning.”
“You are the steering paddle, you are the lead navigator. You will guide the school and the students towards their destination. The wa’a is the school you are guiding. As you begin your new journey as principal, you will lead us along the charted path to deliver the mission and vision of ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY.
“The school of fish are the students following the path set by the wa’a. The students are the center of what we do. The night and day sky are the unforeseen forecasts that may lie ahead. Along the journey, you may see frigate birds that illustrate the storms you may face. You are never alone on this journey. You will weather the storms with your crew, the white fish, who are the teachers who are here to support you to make IPA a place where values matter and every student discovers their potential.”
The Elementary faculty and students gifted Ross with a wonderful look-back video that included pre-recorded greetings from former teachers and founding Head of School Dr. Dan White. Dozens of lei were draped around Ross’s neck by the students and faculty, and a hand-painted banner encouraged him to “Go Forward with Confidence.” Mr. Ross even got a Spiderman superhero cape!