After a bit of downtime this summer, I am pleased to introduce you to Maysaa Bazna, the Director and Founder of Pono in New York City. Pono is a small alternative, democratic school that also places emphasis on outdoor education, with two days spent outdoors each week. The school also offers a sliding scale for tuition in an attempt to address access issues.
Maysaa has an interesting academic background, having earned multiple Masters degrees in reading and learning disabilities, and an Ed.D. in curriculum and teaching. Her research delved into the history of education and systems of learning across cultures and periods, giving her insight into what was valuable for learning today. Prior to founding Pono, she was a Professor at Columbia University's Teacher's college. After having a daughter of her own, Maysaa realized she was unhappy with the options available for her schooling, and thus was born the inspiration behind Pono (meaning to be in balance).
I spent a lovely day with Maysaa and the other facilitators and kids at Pono, joining them on an outdoor day with a naturalist in Central Park, followed by a fun afternoon of them solving their way out of an "escape room".
In this video, Maysaa speaks about the need to take children's interests in learning seriously, the value of visiting teachers, and how kids excel in academics when they are ready and eager to learn.
Maysaa is definitely an inspiring educator and I'm so happy to be able to share part of Pono's story!
A passionate educator.. on a quest for a schooling model to love!