For 5 years, I had the privilege and honor of teaching at the Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii. Nestled in the hills of beautiful Manoa, my classroom buzzed with the delightful energy of 7th graders. Breezes whispered through the windows, framing gorgeous views and frequent rainbows. The scent of plumeria and pikake flowers wafted through the air, a constant reminder of the beauty around us. 

The Case Middle School buildings are brilliantly designed to bring nature inside. Picture my classroom with windows lining two-thirds of the wall offering a constant connection to the idyllic surroundings. It was through these very windows that our unexpected guest, a feathered friend, would eventually make his grand exit. 

About once a month, a curious bird would stroll into the hallway, take a little hop to the left, and OOPS! Welcome to 7th grade, little birdie! 

An illustration of a Pacific Golden Plover

Now, I haven’t lived any of my days as a bird (at least not that I know of!), but I imagine this little guy took one look at our classroom and knew he’d made a wrong turn. Imagine little birdie’s shock – a tranquil hallway replaced by the vibrant chaos of 23 seventh graders!

With a panicked squawk, the bird launched himself into the air, flying over the heads of my students, aiming for that gorgeous blue sky beyond the windows. He flapped his wings with the might of a superhero, only to meet the unexpected resistance of – PERFLUNK! – our ultra-modern, eco-friendly (and very thick) glass windows.

Failure to reach those clouds filled little birdie with terror as he landed on a countertop nearby. His little bird body heaving, he left a tuft of soft feathers in his wake. Within moments, he was airborne again, displaying all the fervor of an animal desperately trying to escape.

His flight was frenzied and pell-mell, zig-zagging across the room, soaring above the hanging lights, his wings fueled by pure panic and the excited 12 and 13-year-old audience below.

My students showcased the full rainbow of adolescent emotion: some shrieked and tried to make themselves smaller in their chairs, others shrugged, ignoring the mayhem by acting cool and unaffected, while a few brave souls puffed up and volunteered to help me with this bird situation.

The heroes sprang into action, throwing open the windows and creating escape routes for our terrified little visitor. Never once did the bird try to casually walk out the way he came in. I imagine his unceremonious entrance wasn’t even a memory in his frazzled bird brain. 

After a series of unsuccessful “clunks,” the bird finally found his freedom through a merciful opening, undoubtedly relieved to return to his natural habitat, leaving me, the slightly bewildered adult, to wrangle my equally distracted students.

I’m forever grateful for those years at Punahou. I have countless wonderful memories from that time. These bird episodes, as I call them, flutter to memory (forgive the pun) frequently, though, because they perfectly capture the whirlwind of emotions adolescents experience.

Much like my classroom encounter, navigating test prep can feel equally dramatic. Many students would prefer a high-speed escape route rather than taking a competitive exam. And that’s why I love to help students navigate the sometimes-drama-filled journey of ISEE and SSAT test prep.

As they face the ups and downs of test prep, I’m there to be a steady presence, providing support through their anxiety and fear, and guiding them to celebration in their joys and triumphs.

If your child will be taking for the ISEE or SSAT for admission to competitive independent schools, it would be my honor to be their guide on that journey. 

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *