(This is a re-release of my episode number 69 with Mid-Pacific Institute’s, Dr. Edna Hussey.) My guest for this first episode of our 3rd season is Dr. Edna Hussey, a passionate and dedicated educator committed to the advancement of an educated citizenry, children’s rights to quality learning AND the professionalism of teachers. Mention Dr. Hussey’s name anywhere in Hawaiʻi and you will get mad respect and admiration. Folks say she operates at a different level, which I am sure she would humbly reject. She KNOWS what school could be because she has done it, repeatedly. Dr. Hussey is the principal of Mid-Pacific Institute’s preschool and elementary school, and was the former head of Epiphany School, which merged with Mid-Pacific in 2004. Her educational experiences span a wide range of ages of learners, from kindergarten through college, and teaching professionals. In this episode Dr. Hussey and I addressed some big questions, including the definition of an “astute teacher,” the nature of a Reggio Emilia education, what happens in the Zone of Proximal Development, how to help kids love reading and writing, her vision for “A New Literacy” and “reading the world,” the value of educator and education leader blogs, and much, much more. Dr. Hussey launched Hawaii’s first Reggio Emilia-inspired preschool at Mid-Pacific in 2005. She and Leslie Gleim coordinated the famed Reggio Emilia Wonder of Learning Exhibit in 2013 and the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance Summer Conference. She earned her doctorate in education as a member of the first University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa cohort in professional educational practice. Recently, Dr. Hussey was recognized as a Pacific Business News “Women Who Mean Business” honoree. The award recognizes outstanding women from public and private companies, and nonprofits who have made a difference in their industries and communities. Mid-Pacific’s Kupu Hou Academy Director, Dr. Mark Hines, wrote the following about Dr. Hussey: “What stands out most about Edna is her unwavering work on behalf of our keiki. She gives of herself wholeheartedly to make a difference in the lives of teachers who through her gentle and firm hand make a difference in the lives of their students. Due to her guidance, the PreK-5 program at Mid-Pacific is unmatched in their implementation of Reggio and Inquiry approaches in learning. You can walk in any classroom and see student-centered engaged learning happening that is based on the best research on child development. Just as importantly, she commits her time not just at Mid-Pacific, but with programs across the state and around the world to share, learn and build a better understanding of what learning should be for every child. She is grace under pressure, a reassuring voice and a staunch advocate of ‘Children First.’” Mid-Pacific Institute’s President, Dr. Paul Turnbull testifies that, “Dr. Hussey is a pillar of the education community; a person who has dedicated her professional life to children and to improving the quality of environments in which they learn and play. Faculty and staff are truly blessed to have such an accomplished and dedicated professional leading the preschool and elementary school program.” My editor and creative consultant is Evan Kurohara. Our theme music is provided by my friend of 40 years, Michael Sloan. You can find his music, 12 albums and over 100 songs in Spotify, Apple Music and all the other major music platforms. Please stay safe and healthy, listeners, and please get vaccinated. A hui hou, take care and Happy New Year!
(The special oli, the Hawaiian chant that blesses this episode was written and performed by Kalei ‘A’arona Lorenzo, my guest’s high school classmate and basketball teammate. My guest and Kalei have been friends and fellow educators for decades. Mahalo, Kalei for this beautiful beginning to a wonderful episode.) Speaking of a thousand points of light, my guest today is Darciann Baker, a very special educator at the Kamehameha School’s Hawaiʻi Island campus in Keaʻau. Kamehameha Schools is a private school system in Hawaiʻi established under the terms of the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. The Kamehameha Schools consists of three campuses and 30 pre-schools educating over 7000 young people of Hawaiian ancestry on Maui, Oʻahu and Hawaiʻi island. Darciann is a native Hawaiian woman, born and raised in Hawaiʻi. Her entire career has been dedicated to the perpetuation of the Hawaiian language. It is an endeavor she has held close to her heart ever since she found her Hawaiian identity when she was 15 years old. For the past 30 years, she has taught Hawaiian language at different levels and in different contexts from preschool through the university level, at adult night school, and even in the prison system. Recently, Darciann, known as Kumu Leinani, stepped out of the classroom to become her campus’ K-12 Hawaiian language, ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i coach. Her two main responsibilities in this current position are to help to transform the Hawaiian language program to best prepare students to be successful on their Hawaiian language proficiency graduation requirement. This includes rewriting the Kamehameha Schools, Hawaii Island campus K-12 curriculum, coaching teachers through new research-based strategies, and modeling innovative teaching and co-teaching with proficiency as the focus. Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike, “in doing is learning” is a phrase at the core of her pedagogy. Darciann has a MA with Specialization in Teacher Leadership from Walden University, and a BA in Hawaiian Studies from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. My editor and creative consultant is Evan Kurohara. Our theme music is provided by my friend of 40 years, Michael Sloan. You can find his music, 12 albums and over 100 songs in Spotify, Apple Music and all the other major music platforms. Please stay safe and healthy, listeners, and please get vaccinated. A hui hou, take care and Happy New Year!
Rewriting What is Possible, by Erin Medeiros: “The classroom remains the most radical space of possibility.” — bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress.
After a semester on leave, I returned last week to my classroom to meet with my team. The 3 of us teach out of a 2-room structure whose east end looks directly out on the ocean and brings in trades that cool us all year. On mornings with lots to do before students arrive, I often catch sunrise directly from one of their desks, where daydreamers can later watch koholā and seabirds. From the west end we look out to Kalalea and Konanae, the prominent mauna standing above Anahola. We teach together in, and often about, this place. We enjoy our collaboration, that we are here together in perpetual navigation, negotiation, compromise.
On our second day back together, we got to talking about other schools on the island, about our culture-focus and their academy models and what we are all preparing our students to do and be. What is this “real world” we all speak of? Is it a world of work, “getting and spending”? (Can I help if Wordsworth and Washington ring in my ears?) Is it a world of being and becoming? (Can I help if hooks and DuBois echo?) How can we prepare mind, body, spirit, and also attend to the day-to-day realities that impact and influence each child? How can we both inform and empower every student so that they want to participate in the work of positively transforming our communities?
Writing helps me process these questions and the realities of the work. Teaching happens in the infinite space between theory and action, and writing often clarifies where they meet and how to think and act next. I started writing long after I arrived in the classroom. I had written, of course, practically my whole life, but to write as a practice of love, possibility, vocation has been a process begun in the past 10 years.
Black feminist teacher and writer bell hooks, who passed away just last week, proclaimed in her groundbreaking text Teaching to Transgress, “The classroom remains the most radical space of possibility.” hooks insisted that we evaluate how and what we teach, that we “create new visions” and care for the “souls of our students.” She made it acceptable, even academic, to focus on the connection between love and liberation.
I chose teaching because of writers like bell hooks and other practitioner-theorists who could translate the need and the experience to me before I ever knew it personally. I chose teaching because it seemed the most accessible place for change, somewhere I could actually contribute my love, knowledge, and energy while doing something necessary and worthwhile. I also chose teaching because I wanted every day to be new, to embody my hope that something magic might happen.
“Any classroom that employs a holistic model of learning will also be a place where teachers grow, and are empowered by the process. That empowerment cannot happen if we refuse to be vulnerable while encouraging students to take risks.” —bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress
Writing about our experiences helps to continue this tradition of translation and reflection. Listening to a recent episode of the podcast, What School Could Be in Hawaiʻi with Dr. Tammy Jones (at MLTSinHawaii.com), I found that one of her insights about the classroom resonated with my feelings about educators and writing and the system more broadly. She said, “With time to reflect, the community will correct itself.”
In community spaces, we share our experiences testing what is possible in our classrooms and listen to others’ soul-stirring stories. Practicing being vulnerable through writing, talking, and asking gives us the courage to take risks, gain confidence and humility, and be the empowered educators our kids need. Stepping into community spaces allows us to find those other empowered teachers and ask them what is happening at their schools. What does learning look like in their classrooms? What do the students do and say? Who are they becoming?
Vulnerability and possibility complement each other. We can’t try without risking something: lost time or embarrassment or criticism. But we also can’t reach that addicting moment of flow or peak experiences of transformation without shaking up the energy, the purpose, and our role in our learning community.
And so I return to this space we share where the daylight and breeze stream in, where the clouds gather on the mountains, where we keep experimenting, and I prepare myself and my kids for a world so real that we are never really ready and never really done. Choosing teaching means embracing uncertainty and, with it, the hope of what is still possible.
Erin Medeiros is an epic educator at Kanuikapono Learning Center, a K–12 Hawaiian-culture-focused public charter school in Anahola on the island of Kauaʻi in Hawaiʻi.
Speaking of a thousand points of light, my guest today is Dr. Julie Mower, the Acting Director of the Center for Community Engagement at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. Dr. Mower is also the Director of the English Language Institute (ELI), also at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. Dr. Mower gained her EdD in Professional Educational Practice in 2020 from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She has a masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from San Francisco State University, and a BA in English, Emphasis in Literature, from Lewis and Clark College in Oregon, among other certifications. Dr. Mower is also active with Vibrant Hawaiʻi as co-chair of the Education Committee, and she is co-convening Vibrant’s Workforce and Professional Development Team. Vibrant is a community building movement on the island of Hawaii. Sometimes, one can draw conclusions about a person from the campus, community and professional development listings on his or her resume. Such is the case with Dr. Mower, whose CV is a mile deep and rich with interesting experiences. In her dissertation Dr. Mower wrote, “As a young adult, I traveled to Ecuador on a study abroad program while finishing my Bachelors degree in English. Like reading in action form, traveling enabled me to see these different ways of living and seeing the world that previously I had only read about. I fell in love with learning about different cultures and returned to the United States wanting to somehow combine my passions for language and culture.” Her dissertation title is: Student Voices at UH Hilo: “Do I Belong Here?” A Case Study on Student Perception of Community-Engaged Teaching & How It Impacts Their Sense of Belonging at UH Hilo. My editor and creative consultant is Evan Kurohara. Our theme music is provided by my friend of 40 years, Michael Sloan. You can find his music, 12 albums and over 100 songs in Spotify, Apple Music and all the other major music platforms. Please stay safe and healthy, listeners, and please get vaccinated. A hui hou, and take care.
- Mike Rose’s book, Lives on the Boundary.
- UH Hilo’s Bonner Leadership Program.
- Vibrant Hawaiʻi organization.
- Dr. Mower’s blog on Sir Ken Robinson.
- Dr. Mower’s dissertation.
- On Being episode with Mike Rose.
Speaking of a thousand points of light, my guest today is Wes Adkins, a math teacher at James Campbell High School in Ewa Beach, the largest school in all of Hawai‘i. He proudly works in an inclusion classroom, promotes self-paced learning environments, and implements project based learning assessments. Nipsey Hustle and Vector90 inspired him to work in STEM education and teach students the skills for locally minded entrepreneurship. A first generation college graduate and a film buff all his life, Wes recently won a $25,000 Education Innovation Teacher Challenge grant for his proposal to have his students create the Ewa Beach Drive-In. The award was given by Farmer’s Insurance Hawaii and the Public Schools of Hawai’i Foundation. Wes sees launching a drive-in cinema as a great way to harness his students’ varied interests and help them develop diverse skills, from engineering the movie screen to curating and creating films, and developing business plans, computer apps, even recipes for the snack bar. “The possibilities are limitless,” Wes notes. “I’m a firm believer that if you can just find something that you love, you can learn about the rest of the world through that thing that you love.” Wes is also deeply interested in culturally responsive pedagogy, ethnomathematics and the “gamification” of learning, especially math. A Teach for America corps member, Wes is in only his third year as a math teacher. “You wouldn’t know that he is a math teacher because he integrates so many things,” James Campbell High School Principal, Jon Henry Lee once said. “And that’s what’s going to make the learning that much more powerful for the student. It comes from these integrated projects where you connect the dots. He captures their imagination first. A lot of students, the second you talk about geometry or math and things like that, sometimes it turns them off, right? But if you talk about a project that incorporates all the things they care about, whether its the marketing, pulling together the engineering, creating stories … that’s what clicks with students,” notes Principal Lee. Wes hails from California and his wife is from Japan, so Hawai’i is a perfect midway point for their growing family. His first year at James Campbell High School was disrupted by the pandemic, but his students are now fully back on campus. Wes has an undergraduate degree in film and digital media production from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and a masters in culturally responsive education from Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa. My editor and creative consultant is Evan Kurohara. Theme music is provided by my friend of 40 years, Michael Sloan. You can find his music, 12 albums and over 100 songs in Spotify, Apple Music and all the other major music platforms. Please stay safe and healthy, listeners, and please get vaccinated. A hui hou, and take care.
Speaking of a thousand points of light, my guest today is Dr. Tammy Jones. Dr. Jones is a Project Coordinator for PLACES Hawaiʻi at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, supporting teachers on the Waiʻanae Coast to develop place-based curricula. She is also the curriculum developer and co-facilitator of Try Think, a program run in the state correctional facilities and sponsored by the Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities. Dr. Jones spent the first 12 years of her career in education as an English teacher in both public and charter school settings. She earned her masters in teaching in 2005 and her PhD in Curriculum Studies in 2012, both from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Dr. Jones has worked closely with Dr. Thomas Jackson and the Uehiro Academy for Philosophy and Ethics in Education to promote Philosophy for Children Hawaiʻi, known as p4c. Fred Reppun, my nephew and the Education Coordinator for the He‘eia National Estuarine Research Reserve said the following about Dr. Jones: “We worked together for PLACES in 2017 and helped to send three teams from Nānākuli H.S. to the science fair. Tammy has an amazing commitment and set of tools that she uses to elevate student voices and action at every scale, from daily conversations to classroom to school to community. Thanks to her, the Nānākuli students’ science projects were actually about them finding their confidence as thinkers and communicators.” Here are Dr. Jones’s professional affiliations: Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD): Curriculum Studies, August 2012, Masters of Education in Teaching (MEdT), May 2005, University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa: Project Coordinator, PLACES Hawaiʻi: Teacher, the School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability: Board Member, DreamHouse Academy PCS, Ewa Beach: Instructor, Johns Hopkins University School of Education: Instructor, University of Hawaiʻi at West Oahu: Teacher, James Campbell High School, Ewa Beach: Team Member, Uehiro Academy of Philosophy and Ethics in Education. My editor and creative consultant is Evan Kurohara. Theme music is provided by my friend of 40 years, Michael Sloan. You can find his music, 12 albums and over 100 songs in Spotify, Apple Music and all the other major music platforms. Please stay safe and healthy, listeners, and please get vaccinated. A hui hou, and take care.
Speaking of a thousand points of light, my guest today is Kevin Matsunaga, someone I have wanted on this show for a long, long time. He is one of my superheroes and a total inspiration. Kevin never imagined he would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a teacher. He found his calling as the digital media teacher at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School on the island of Kauaʻi, and his students have won many national video competitions. In 2007, the Hawai’i Department of Education recognized Kevin with a Kauaʻi District Teacher of the Year award. The impact he has had on kids in our public schools since 2007 is simply…staggering. Kevin is always looking for ways to improve the things he’s doing in his class and his teaching practice, and that involves a lot of extra time. Despite the long hours he puts in, Kevin returns year after year because he sees how much his teaching, guiding, coaching and mentoring means to those under his tutelage. During this 2020-2022 COVID-19 pandemic, Kevin’s advanced media level two class has continued to produce its morning announcement show each school day. The students all have equipment at home they can use, or they are using their cell phones or personal cameras to record themselves. Some of his students have even started a podcast during this pandemic. You can listen to “The Couch Pueo Podcast” by clicking on the link near the bottom of this blog. From Kevin’s resume we learn in detail: Webmaster for school’s website: Responsible for the school’s Google Domain: Head of FOLF group and technology cadre, 2004-2006: Member of Crisis Team, 2000-2014. Program Coordinator for Boys and Girls Club Media Program, 2010- 2012: Member of statewide Creative Media Team responsible for training students on all islands in media production, 2008-present: Original Steering Committee Member for PBS Hawaii’s Hiki Nō program, 2009-present: CTE Department Head, 2015-present: Member of Student Television Network’s National Board of Directors, 2013-present: Member of Hawaii Creative Media Team, responsible for training of all Hiki No schools in the state, 2012-present: Member of Hope Street Group Kauaʻi and co-organizer of Kauai’s inaugural ECET2 Kauaʻi Convening, 2017-2019: Member of PBS Hawaii’s Board of Directors, July 2021-present: Member of the Kauaʻi Historical Society’s Board of Directors, July 2021-Present. Kevin’s formal education: University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa, August 1987 – December 1992, Bachelor of Education degree in elementary education with an emphasis in language arts: Professional Diploma in elementary education, December 1992. My editor and creative consultant is Evan Kurohara. Theme music is provided by my friend of 40 years, Michael Sloan. You can find his music, 12 albums and over 100 songs in Spotify, Apple Music and all the other major music platforms. Please stay safe and healthy, listeners, and please get vaccinated. A hui hou, and take care.
- Lihue Loop
- Aloha Atanta Film
- CKTV Media Productions
- Kauai Grown
- Friday Night Lights Film
- Hiki Nō 10th Anniversary Film
- Hawaiʻi Creative Media
- Long Story Short – Kevin Matsunaga
- The Couch Pueo Podcast
A college football defensive end and a philosopher meet at a bar. The defensive end asks, “What’s the meaning of life?” The philosopher replies, “Missed tackles, my friend. To many missed tackles.” My guest today is Dr. Chad Miller, our 2012 Hawaiʻi State Teacher of the Year, a National Board Certified teacher, and currently a Specialist at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Institute for Teacher Education. Dr. Miller also serves as the Director of Teacher Development at the University’s of Hawaii’s Uehiro Academy for Philosophy and Ethics in Education. Moreover, he serves in both the Progressive Philosophy and Pedagogy, and National Board Certification Teacher Leader Curriculum Studies masters programs. Dr. Miller also serves as a “philosopher in residence” at several HIDOE public schools, where he supports teacher candidates and veteran K-12 teachers as they incorporate the activity of philosophy (known as p4c) into their classroom practice through the use of the “Philosopher’s Pedagogy.” Whether he is thinking about the environmental implications of “driving” clouds with third graders, the cyclical nature of violence and drug abuse with sophomores in their language arts classes, or the value of living the “examined life” with graduate students, Dr. Miller finds himself participating in extremely meaningful and rigorous philosophical inquiries with students and teachers each day. Amber Makaiau, the Director of the Hanahauoli Professional Development Center said the following about Dr. Miller: “In the words of Che Guevara, Dr. Miller lives and educates by the credo: ‘The duty of every revolutionary is to make the revolution.’” My editor, creative consultant and sound engineer is the wondrously creative, Evan Kurohara (SØZEN), a self-taught audio engineer and producer born and raised in Hilo, Hawaiʻi. He is currently working in Honolulu and aspiring to reach new heights by dedicating himself to exceptional quality work through creative and analytical meticulousness (his words!). Our original theme music is provided by my friend of 40 years, virtuoso pianist, Michael Sloan. Michael has produced 12 albums with over 100 songs and is featured in Apple Music, Spotify, and all the other major music platforms. You can also find his work at his YouTube channel. He has listeners in over 100 countries and over 2000 cities, to date. Songs featured in this episode include, “A New Day,” “Oasis,” “Mysterious Dancer,” “When Angels Touch” and “Fuchsia.” Please support this podcast by providing a rating and review at your fav podcast app! The What School Could Be in Hawaiʻi podcast is funded by Ted Dintersmith and WhatSchoolCouldBe.org. Please stay safe, keep wearing your masks in crowded public spaces, and please get vaccinated. Until next time, mahalo, a hui hou!, and be in good health. (Here are links to references in the episode about Moxie the Robot, and Dr. Tom Jackson.)
It’s hard to rank all the things I love about Russell Motter – history teacher, lover of great music, epic thespian, good cook, creative innovator, Atlanta Braves and Falcons fan, among others – but the fact he mixes a mean Sazerac, my favorite cocktail, sits at the top of the list. Russell and I taught together in the history department at ‘Iolani School from 2010 to 2014. When I say taught together, I mean it literally. We team-taught US History, merging our two classes into one very cool section that at times traveled to the outer edges of innovation in education and what history could be. (To see a very cool video about our work, click here.) But I get ahead of myself. Russell has a BA and a masters in history from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He has been teaching in the history department at ‘Iolani School for 26 years, and was its department head from 2005 – 2013. Russell and I co-founded and co-directed the Education Innovation Lab at ‘Iolani School during the 2013/2014 school year. He has been a curriculum consultant for Punahou School’s PUEO program; he coordinated ‘Iolani’s capstone program for two years. Currently he is the course leader for ‘Iolani’s APUS history program. Russell has also taught at the college level here in Honolulu. If you ever have a chance to read Russell’s resume you will see that he has a miscellaneous projects section a mile long. Highlights include working on a team that brought technology to ‘Iolani’s campus in the form of a K12 iPad 1:1 program, the second school in Hawaii to do so. I also served on that team with Russell. It was a blast. More than anything, in my humble opinion, Russell’s work bringing incredible guest speakers to ‘Iolani School is a highlight. Speakers include Barbara Field, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, John Hope Franklin (a personal hero of mine), Wynton Marsalis and Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize Winning author of the incredible book, The Warmth of Other Suns. Oh, I almost forgot, Russell, originally from the Great State of Georgia, acts in local theater productions here in Honolulu, is a master mixologist and, in an earlier life, was a hotel bellman. To say he has lived a rich and intentional life is an understatement. My editor, creative consultant and sound engineer is the wondrously creative, Evan Kurohara (SØZEN), a self-taught audio engineer and producer born and raised in Hilo, Hawaiʻi. He is currently working in Honolulu and aspiring to reach new heights by dedicating himself to exceptional quality work through creative and analytical meticulousness (his words!). Our original theme music is provided by my friend of 40 years, virtuoso pianist, Michael Sloan. Michael has produced 12 albums with over 100 songs and is featured in Apple Music, Spotify, and all the other major music platforms. You can also find his work at his YouTube channel. He has listeners in over 100 countries and over 2000 cities, to date. Songs featured in this episode include, “A New Day,” “Oasis,” “Mysterious Dancer” and “Fuchsia.” There are two other clips of songs downloaded from a open source site: “Pass the Plate” and “On the Rocks.” Please support this podcast by providing a rating and review at your fav podcast app! The What School Could Be in Hawaiʻi podcast is funded by Ted Dintersmith and WhatSchoolCouldBe.org. Please stay safe, keep wearing your masks in crowded public spaces, and please get vaccinated. Until next time, mahalo, a hui hou!, and please be in good health.
Speaking of a thousand points of light, my guest today is Dr. Cara Chaudron, a math enthusiast born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i. Dr. Chaudron teaches 6th grade math at the School For Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability, known as SEEQS, a public charter school near and dear to my heart. I have done two previous episodes with SEEQERS, including faculty member, Zoe Ingerson and school founder, Buffy Cushman-Patz. Dr. Chaudron earned her BA at Vassar College where she double majored in Education and Psychology, with a minor in French and Francophone Studies. She earned her Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) at Brandeis University, where she also became licensed as a Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities. She recently earned her Doctorate in Education from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa, where she used her dissertation to learn about the experiences and reflections of SEEQS’s alumni. Dr. Chaudron leads a student-centered, inquiry-based classroom that allows students to grow in their understanding and love of 6th grade math. She takes on many leadership roles at SEEQS and her value to the school is immeasurable. The 2021-2022 School Year marks Dr. Chaudron’s seventh year as part of the SEEQS community, where she gets to work with teachers and students who share her love of learning, desire for sustainable living, and passion for inquiry and exploration. Moreover, and this is the frosting on the cake, Dr. Chaudron was recently named the 2022 Hawaiʻi Charter School Teacher of the Year. She follows in the footsteps of other SEEQS teachers who received this award in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 and is deeply worthy of the honor! My editor, creative consultant and sound engineer is the wondrously creative, Evan Kurohara (SØZEN), a self-taught audio engineer and producer born and raised in Hilo, Hawaiʻi. He is currently working in Honolulu and aspiring to reach new heights by dedicating himself to exceptional quality work through creative and analytical meticulousness. Our original theme music is provided by my friend of 40 years, virtuoso pianist, Michael Sloan. Michael has produced 12 albums with over 100 songs and is featured in Apple Music, Spotify, and all the other major music platforms. You can also find his work at his YouTube channel. He has listeners in over 100 countries and over 2000 cities, to date. Songs featured in this episode include, “A New Day,” “Oasis,” “Mysterious Dancer” and “Fuchsia.” Please support this podcast by providing a rating and review at your fav podcast app! The What School Could Be in Hawaiʻi podcast is funded by Ted Dintersmith and WhatSchoolCouldBe.org. Please stay safe, keep wearing your masks in crowded public spaces, and please get vaccinated. Until next time, a hui hou!, and please be in good health.
Speaking of 1000 points of light, today my guest is Lianna Lam, an educator and leader passionate about community and public schools who views both as places to seed and cultivate Aloha! Lianna’s love for public schools sprouted from her time at Ahuimanu Elementary School on the Windward Side of O’ahu, where she benefitted from loving and dedicated teachers. Lianna holds an environmental engineering degree from University of California at Davis and a Masters in Education from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She has worked as an engineer, science teacher, sustainability coordinator and as a STEM Coordinator. As an educator, she believes in the whole child approach, one that embraces and nurtures the mind, body, and spirit. This belief is most evident in her contributions to building and stewarding the Green Lab at Kaimuki Middle School, an outdoor classroom where she works with students and teachers to explore Hawaii’s environmental sustainability through hands-on, project-based, experiential learning. More recently, Lianna is the co-founder of Piko Pals, a new parent support program that mentors and builds community among parents of newborns. In addition to being a busy mom of three boys, Lianna continues to serve public education and community by contributing, as the Chair, to Waiʻalae Elementary Public Charter School’s Governing Board. Lianna has her feet firmly planted in both the public, and public charter school worlds here in Hawaiʻi, which is why I was so excited to interview her for this episode. In our conversation, we talked about how she became a self-directed learner and creative problem-solver, and why she is such a voracious consumer of books. Lianna’s insights on the nature of learning are brilliant, as are her insights into how to move innovation forward on a school’s campus (hint: small steps lead to big changes). We also talked about the skills, habits and dispositions of wise school leaders, and what educators need from their administrators to innovate. My editor, creative consultant and sound engineer is the wondrously creative, Evan Kurohara. Our original theme music is provided by my friend of 40 years, virtuoso pianist, Michael Sloan. Michael has produced 12 albums with over 100 songs and is featured in Apple Music, Spotify, and all the other major music platforms. You can also find his work at his YouTube channel. He has listeners in over 100 countries and over 2000 cities, to date. Songs featured in this episode include, “Oasis,” “Mysterious Dancer” and “Fuchsia.” Please support this podcast by providing a rating and review at your fav podcast app! The What School Could Be in Hawaiʻi podcast is funded by Ted Dintersmith and WhatSchoolCouldBe.org. Please stay safe, keep wearing your masks in crowded public spaces, and please get vaccinated. Until next time, a hui hou!, and please be in good health.
My guest for this first episode of our 3rd season is Dr. Edna Hussey, a passionate and dedicated educator committed to the advancement of an educated citizenry, children’s rights to quality learning AND the professionalism of teachers. Mention Dr. Hussey’s name anywhere in Hawaiʻi and you will get mad respect and admiration. Folks say she operates at a different level, which I am sure she would humbly reject. She KNOWS what school could be because she has done it, repeatedly. Dr. Hussey is the principal of Mid-Pacific Institute’s preschool and elementary school, and was the former head of Epiphany School, which merged with Mid-Pacific in 2004. Her educational experiences span a wide range of ages of learners, from kindergarten through college, and teaching professionals. In this episode Dr. Hussey and I addressed some big questions, including the definition of an “astute teacher,” the nature of a Reggio Emilia education, what happens in the Zone of Proximal Development, how to help kids love reading and writing, her vision for “A New Literacy” and “reading the world,” the value of educator and education leader blogs, and much, much more. Dr. Hussey launched Hawaii’s first Reggio Emilia-inspired preschool at Mid-Pacific in 2005. She and Leslie Gleim coordinated the famed Reggio Emilia Wonder of Learning Exhibit in 2013 and the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance Summer Conference. She earned her doctorate in education as a member of the first University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa cohort in professional educational practice. Recently, Dr. Hussey was recognized as a Pacific Business News “Women Who Mean Business” honoree. The award recognizes outstanding women from public and private companies, and nonprofits who have made a difference in their industries and communities. Mid-Pacific’s Kupu Hou Academy Director, Dr. Mark Hines, wrote the following about Dr. Hussey: “What stands out most about Edna is her unwavering work on behalf of our keiki. She gives of herself wholeheartedly to make a difference in the lives of teachers who through her gentle and firm hand make a difference in the lives of their students. Due to her guidance, the PreK-5 program at Mid-Pacific is unmatched in their implementation of Reggio and Inquiry approaches in learning. You can walk in any classroom and see student-centered engaged learning happening that is based on the best research on child development. Just as importantly, she commits her time not just at Mid-Pacific, but with programs across the state and around the world to share, learn and build a better understanding of what learning should be for every child. She is grace under pressure, a reassuring voice and a staunch advocate of ‘Children First.'” Mid-Pacific Institute’s President, Dr. Paul Turnbull testifies that, “Dr. Hussey is a pillar of the education community; a person who has dedicated her professional life to children and to improving the quality of environments in which they learn and play. Faculty and staff are truly blessed to have such an accomplished and dedicated professional leading the preschool and elementary school program.” Original theme music and sound engineering provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Please send your feedback to MLTSinHawaii@Gmail.com, and we would love it if you gave us a review and a five-star rating!
What does it mean to be the daylight for someone? Today my guest for this final episode of Season 2, Semester 2 is Erin Medeiros, an epic educator at Kanuikapono Learning Center, a K–12 Hawaiian-culture-focused school in Anahola on the island of Kauaʻi in Hawaiʻi. Erin seeks renewal in literature and hiking, biking, or playing at the beach with her educator husband, Jonathon and their two daughters. Jonathon was my guest at the start of this podcast semester. The Medeiros family lives in the moku of Puna in the ahupuaʻa of Kapaʻa. Erin is a National Board Certified English language arts and social studies teacher who is passionate about language and hopes to grow her students’ capacities to be curious, read critically, write energetically, speak clearly, and listen attentively. She views teaching as a deeply creative profession and encourages her students to develop their attention to the past and present, to observe and question life. She does whatever it takes to get her students outside and into the community at least once a week and loves to prepare them each year to perform at Poetry Out Loud. Erin believes that networks and human connections are vital to a healthy teaching career. She is or has been a new teacher mentor, a peer mediation advisor, a nature club advisor, a senior project coordinator and Hope Street Group Hawaiʻi State Fellow. In November of 2018 she facilitated a breakout session at the Schools of the Future Conference that, with fellow teacher-writers, advocated for and guided educators in methods of generating and publishing essays and blog posts. She serves humbly as a Merwin Creative Teaching Fellow, which takes inspiration from Hawaii’s renowned poet W. S. Merwin. Erin earned a BA in history from Lewis & Clark College and a masters in education from the University of Oregon. Huge thanks to Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations for his post production on this podcast. To learn more about Daniel, or hire him for your next music gig, click here. This is the last episode of our second season! We will be back in the Fall of 2021 with the 3rd season of this What School Could Be in Hawaiʻi podcast. Please stay safe, get vaccinated and be kind to one another. A hui hou!
What must schools do to build caring and connected communities? What is student-driven learning? What learning challenges are authentic and real-world? What must schools do to help students become fully human? What does it mean that “school is in but class is outside”? How can schools help students and staff navigate the complexities of this age of acceleration? Why put Yertle the Turtle on trial? Today my guests are Wrayna Fairchild and Melissa Montoya, two charter school educators selected for the Hawaiʻi State Teacher Fellows program. To introduce them I am going to read the section of the Public Charter School Commission’s newsletter announcing their appointments to the cohort. “The Hawaiʻi State Teacher Fellows Program brings together outstanding public school educators from across the state and provides teachers with peer and community engagement skills, tools to facilitate focus groups, along with communication and advocacy strategies. The program is run out of the Hawaiʻi Department of Education’s Leadership Institute. The competitive applications process includes submission of narratives, recommendations and an interview. When asked why she applied for the Fellowship Program, Melissa Montaya (Kamaile Academy) said, ‘… I wanted to be a part of an organization that wants to elevate teachers, outside of my own organization. I believe in collective and collaborative teams, so I am beyond ecstatic to engage in opportunities that support public education on a larger scale. Hawaiʻi deserves a system that promotes excellence at all levels of education.’ Wrayna Fairchild (Voyager Public Charter School) said she applied for the program, ‘because I want to further develop as a teacher-leader. I have been fortunate to take on a teacher-leader role at my school and have had the opportunity to participate in national teacher-leader cohorts. Applying to be part of this special group that supports education at the state level seemed like a great fit for me.’ She added, ‘Hawaiʻi has some amazing, talented educators. By helping to connect these teachers, and working to support their classroom efforts, the practice of all is elevated.'” As always, our original theme music and post production is provided by Daniel Gilad of DG Sound Creations in Honolulu. Please stay safe, friends! Continue to wear your masks where required and please, please get vaccinated. Until next time, a hui hou!
What does wise school leadership look, sound and feel like? How do we, as a nation, unleash the creativity, the imagination, the innovation that we seem to know already exists in every kid from birth? What’s the core idea behind the creation of K-12 pipelines to fields in STEM and space? Why work so hard to create these pipelines for kids? What does it mean to live effectively in a human made world? Profoundly impacted by the Challenger disaster, twenty years ago, Art and Rene Kimura created Future Flight Hawai‘i, a space-themed educational program, while Art, a former teacher and school administrator, was assigned to the Office of Space Industries, part of the Hawai‘i Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism. When that office was closed in 2002, the Hawai‘i Space Grant Consortium adopted Future Flight Hawaiʻi as the centerpiece of its K-12 educational programs where it continues to grow and touch the lives of so many. With their ongoing affiliation with Hawai‘i Space Grant, Art and Rene have created a whole host of educational and public outreach activities that have reached an estimated 150,000 students, their parents, and teachers. Their work includes K-12 educational programs, science nights, courses for teachers, grants, and participation in local, national, and international engineering educational programs. For a sampling of programs Google search online for Future Flight Hawai‘i, or Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Day, or Astronaut Lacy Veach Day and/or Robotics in Hawai‘i. Former Hawai’i Governor Linda Lingle, in her 2008 State of the State Address, called Art Kimura the father of Hawai‘i robotics, which is epic. In 2015 Art and Rene were named as Living Treasures of Hawaiʻi. The Hawai‘i Space Grant Consortium posted the following comment online in that moment: “The HSGC ohana extends our heartfelt congratulations to Art and Rene Kimura upon being named Living Treasures of Hawai‘i. Among six recipients, the Kimuras were recognized as visionary educators and proponents of science. Bestowed by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai‘i, the Living Treasure Award recognizes and honors individuals ‘who have demonstrated excellence and high standards of achievement in their particular fields of endeavor, and, through their continuous growth, learning and sharing, have made significant contributions towards enriching our society.'” As always, post production and original theme music was provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Please stay safe, everyone! Wear your masks and for the love of the gods, please get vaccinated.
What does it mean to live in an “open source society”? What impact is the so-called Age of Acceleration having on your school age children? When did the blue collar, white collar paradigm start to shift? What does it mean to be “cognitively fit”? What is the impact on kids of being hyperconnected but totally alone? Why will going to college or pursuing a postsecondary credential increasingly feel like shopping on a poorly organized Amazon? A few weeks ago Stephanie Malia Krauss published her first book, Making It: What Today’s Kids Need for Tomorrow’s World. Within hours it had rocketed to the top of Amazon’s education category. Why? Stephanie Malia and I tackle these aforementioned questions and more in this Part II of our podcast episode. Ted Dintersmith, author of What School Could Be said the following about Stephanie Malia’s book: “In her new book ‘Making It,’ Stephanie Malia Krauss delivers a wake-up call about the need to align the core of American education with the ever-changing demands of the workplace. She lays out a compelling vision of the currencies that will be essential to adults in coming decades and argues persuasively for a wholesale reimagination of how we educate all students — from toddlers through adults seeking to upgrade skills. For a roadmap to a better future, dive into this book!” To my educator friends in Hawaiʻi, and all educators out there, I echo Ted’s endorsement. During my reading all I could think about is how timely Stephanie Malia’s book will prove to be, especially after the events of this pandemic year. Stephanie Malia has deep roots in Hawaiʻi. She is Native Hawaiian, a kanaka maoli whose Tutu Nui (grandma) and her family are from from Moloka’i. Her aunties there were teachers, including supporting the state school on Kalaupapa. Her Papa Nui’s (grandfather) family is from Maui. Born on a plantation there, he was orphaned, but there is evidence that his ancestry traces back to royalty. Stephanie Malia was raised on the “mainland” (the other 49 states), but spent early summers with grandparents in Maunawili on O’ahu. She sees writing this book as her kuleana (responsibility) after eight years off the frontline and into national work. Stephanie Malia is the owner and principal at First Quarter Strategies, a senior advisor to Jobs for the Future and a staff consultant for the Youth Transition Funders Group. Learn more about her work and ways to collaborate with her at her website. Stay safe and in good health, everyone.
How do you tend to a school garden if you can’t get to school? What does it mean to coach deeper learning? What is 20% time and how does a school get started with the concept? How did certain technologies like ScreenCastify and EdPuzzle help educators bridge the distance learning gap? What is parent coaching professional development and how does it help build healthy learning communities? What are co-created rubrics and what is the long term impact of films like Most Likely to Succeed? Today my guest is Serena Cox, a Comprehensive School Improvement Resource Teacher, in the Kauai Complex Area on the island of Kauai. I first met Serena when she was a science teacher and the deeper learning coach at Waimea Canyon Middle School on Kauai. In a Season 1 episode, I featured Serena’s principal, Melissa Speetjens. Serena was instrumental in helping me develop the 20% time segment in my new documentary film, The Innovation Playlist. She is the Kauai island Teacher of the Year 2021, a program of the Hawaii Department of Education that honors a teacher of the year from each of the 15 Hawaii complexes. Serena was 2015/2016 Teacher of the Year at the Dr. P. J. Fisher Schoo in South Carolina and the 2012/2013 Teacher of Year at the Greer Middle School, also in South Carolina. She is a certified PBLWorks facilitator, among many, many other awards and certificates. Serena has done what all fully committed teachers do: direct the drama club, coach cheerleading and soccer, and mentor young people that they might be most likely to succeed. Serena graduated summa cum laude from Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and has a Master’s degree in Middle Level Science. As always, our original theme music and post production is provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Check out his website and Facebook URL. Please stay safe, wear your masks and for the love of the gods, get vaccinated. A hui hou and we will see you in two weeks.
Fasten your seatbelts, listeners. This episode is going to blow your mind. Buddy Leong is a senior at Punahou School, which likely makes him 17 or 18 years old. Judging by his LinkedIn profile, he has accomplished more in his short life to date than most of us have accomplished in our lives combined. I think it’s best if I let Buddy introduce himself via the “About” section of his LinkedIn page. Buddy writes, “I’m an aspiring social entrepreneur, youth leader, and investor. In 2015, I was part of the youngest team to win a StartUp Weekend and place as the first runner up in the Global Startup Battle business competition. I am passionate about our Hawaiʻi community and have over 4,000 community service volunteer hours. Currently, I am the Executive Director of an organization called Virtual Student Experiences which brings students together with industry professionals willing to share their industry knowledge, experiences, and tips with students. To improve on my finance and computer science technical skills, I have completed Introduction to Python Data Science at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and am enrolled in Google’s Data Analytics Certificate Program. I have held world rankings in two different video games, been in the top 1% of three, and can solve a Rubik’s Cube in about 1 minute.” How’s about that for an “About” section on LinkedIn? And, crazy as this sounds, what Buddy writes above is only the half of it. He has been a technical manager, talent acquisition specialist, business co-founder, back end operations manager and much more. Oh yes, he has a passion for finance and understands all too well how grades, transcripts and SAT scores fall short when it comes to knowing what a young person knows, is and can do. Buddy’s parents are Hawaiʻi entrepreneurs, teachers and authors; it is through them that I became aware of Buddy’s work. Thank you, Kari and Evan Leong for partnering with me to make this interview happen! As always, our theme music and post production editing is provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Please stay safe, wear your masks and get vaccinated when it’s your time (don’t wait, do it now).
When I called Robert Pennybacker a “Renaissance Man” during my interview he seemed not to know why I attached the term to him. I can say with some confidence that folks in Robert’s network see him as exactly that. He is a poet, writer, producer, director, traveler, technologist, deep thinker and the very definition of both a specialist and generalist. He is also one of the founders of HIKI NŌ, arguably the most remarkable state student news network on Planet Earth. This is no joke, listeners; I am not engaging in hyperbole. There are lots of student news programs around the nation, but none with the mission and vision, nor the scope and reach of HIKI NŌ. A USC Film School graduate, Robert has driven HIKI NŌ forward for 10 years now, the last year a remarkable pivot during this Covid-19 pandemic. He is the Vice President of Learning Initiatives at PBS Hawai’i, where HIKI NŌ lives. This program’s impact on kids is simply staggering and today we are going to hear how it was built and what drove Robert to move it forward. Robert Pennybacker’s resume is long and deep. Early on he was a local television marketing director. In late 2000 he started his own advertising/production company called Pennybacker Creative, LLC, then joined PBS Hawaiʻi as Vice President of Creative Services in late 2007. His awards and recognition include the 1984 Regional Emmy Award for Television Promotional Spots; 3 Pele Awards (Hawaii’s ADDY Awards) for excellence in advertising; he oversaw the promotional campaign for one of the most successful network affiliation switches ever (when Hawaii’s NBC affiliate switched to FOX). Robert is an independent filmmaker who has written more than 20 documentaries about life and people in Hawaii. As I wrote earlier, he is a poet and writer. In 2007 he became the Vice President of Creative Services at PBS Hawai’i and oversaw all local programming, on-air promotion, interstitial production, station branding, and the production of on-air fundraising for the station, as well as management of personnel. Robert and I go back pretty far. We played high school football together back in the 70s at Punahou School. He was a tight end, I played center, which makes this moment special for me. As always, our post-production and original theme music is provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Check out Daniel’s website to learn more, or to book him for your next music gig. If you love these episodes please write us a review and rate us in your favorite podcast store. Stay safe, wear your masks and get vaccinated when it is your turn. And bring kindness and compassion into the world!
Today my guest is Kalei ʻAʻarona-Lorenzo, a kumu, or teacher of music, culture and Hawaiian language at the Kamehameha Schools Maui campus. She is the 3rd educator from this campus, including middle school teachers, Kui Gapero and Ululani Shiraishi, that I have featured in this series. I divided this interview up into three parts. Part I is all about Kalei, her background, her music and how she connects music to place. Part II is about her philosophy of education, a section that includes a very interesting conversation about grades. Part III is a section I called “Your Happy Place,” with questions about a visit to KSBE Maui by the Stanford Talisman acapella group and her founding of the Hawaiian Music Ensemble. Kalei is considered a legend by faculty and students alike at KS Maui. In this conversation you will find her precise, measured, warm, spiritual, at times conflicted (about grades, for example) and deeply reflective. She brings to her teaching all of her head and all of her heart, and a lifetime of experience making music. Starting back when her parents were choir members at Kaumakapili Church in Kalihi and continuing today as she nurtures her Hawaiian Music Ensemble at KS Maui, she connects her life and her music to the aina, the land she loves. Kalei founded this Hawaiian Music Ensemble back in 2006 with three students. Today the group has 48 members; 24 dancers and 24 musicians. Kalei has taken this ensemble south to places in French Polynesia (where they performed for its president) and New Zealand. She has a bachelors in music and Hawaiian language, and a masters in secondary curriculum and instruction from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa. She is a 1985 graduate of the Kamehameha Schools Kapālama campus. Her full resume is long and deep in action research. As always, our original theme music and post production editing was done by Daniel Gilad of DG Sound Creations. Please stay safe, wear your masks, get vaccinated when it is your turn and bring kindness and compassion into the world.
This was Florence Scott‘s first podcast interview so it was understandable that she would text me after the fact asking if it was normal to be rethinking her responses to my questions. In some ways, her text to me illustrates at the deepest possible level who Florence is: A deeply reflective educator who lives and breathes relevant learning. Florence believes with all her mind and all her heart that learning is constant day in and day out, year in and year out. After an hour of interviewing her I had the overwhelming desire to return to middle school, which was a completely crummy experience for me some 50 years ago at Punahou School. Back then my teachers saw me as a mediocre student (I have the grade reports plus comments to prove this) who seemed to fail each time I was asked to report my learning on a test or in a paper. Ugh. In reality I was a deeply reflective kid who lived and breathed the outdoors, making things, books and…family dinner table Socratic seminars. So it goes without saying that had I had Florence Scott in the 6th, 7th or 8th grade I would have been most likely to succeed, most likely to shine when it came to the meta process of “knowing thyself.” Florence, in so many ways reminds me of my favorite high school teacher, Paul “Doc” Berry, who inspired me to push all boundaries and became my lifelong friend and mentor. I imagine Florence’s kids, years or decades from now, searching for her on Facebook so they can tell her how much she supported their inherent creativity, imagination and innovation. My conversation with her was a total blast; I hope you come away from it with a bushel of ideas and small steps that might move your educator practice towards student-driven learning. Florence said the following about herself in her resume (which I converted to the 3rd person): [She is ]…a dynamic, versatile education professional with more than nine years managing academic programs and leading education initiatives while supporting and empowering students and colleagues. She is an accomplished instructional leader able to conceptualize goals and plan accordingly to address the needs of all students’ unique learning modalities. And, she has a proven track record of developing and implementing curriculum activities that promote social, emotional, and cognitive development. Florence serves as a middle school humanities teacher, guide, coach, mentor and navigator at Hawaii Technology Academy’s Kauai Campus. She has also served in various English language arts positions in both South Carolina, Maryland and Great Britain. She has a bachelors degree in English and a masters degree in Education. As always our original theme music and post production editing was provided by Daniel Gilad of DG Sound Creations. Friends, stay safe, wear your masks, get vaccinated and bring kindness into the world. We need lots and lots of kindness right now.
What is the true value of small schools? In what ways might we break up larger schools into smaller units, and why? What is the value add of an education that is both secular and faith-based? Why is teaching a sacred act and in what ways can bad teachers be destructive to the lives of kids? What is the core of the debate between content and skills and how are skills different from strengths? What do we do about kindergarten teachers quitting their jobs, citing top down “seat time” mandates as…child abuse? And in what ways did teachers become learners again because of Covid-19? These and other questions are addressed in today’s episode. My guest is Jeanne Wilks who served as the Interim Head of Holy Nativity – a small, independent school in East O’ahu – from July 2019. After leading the school during the challenges of transition and COVID-19, the board appointed her permanent Head of School. Someone who knows Jeanne well said she is grounded in her beliefs, possesses a hold-your-ground kind of confidence (but is humble), is gently persistent, is an optimist and is possessed of the ability to trust and empower. What a testament! Wilks holds a masters in Private School Leadership from the University of Hawai’i and has been an independent school administrator since 2013. She also has a background in audio engineering and food science. Most of all, she is a team builder who has, according to folks who know her, navigated a terrible pandemic using her fantastic listening skills and ability to build trust. From the Holy Nativity School website we read that the school has a rich history of providing a personalized approach to learning in a small, intimate, setting for students starting school as three year-olds and continuing on through the 6th grade. Small classes, nurturing teachers, challenging curriculum, and integrated technology create the foundation that has continually encouraged outstanding achievements as HNS students display the inherent pleasure of lifelong learning. As always, post-production is provided by Daniel Gilad of DG Sound Creations. To learn more about Daniel, or to hire him for your next music gig, check out his website and Facebook URL. Please stay safe and bring compassion into the world!
This morning, mainland time, Stephanie Malia Krauss became a first time author. Her book is titled Making It: What Today’s Kids Need for Tomorrow’s World. Ted Dintersmith, author of What School Could Be said the following about Stephanie Malia’s book: In her new book ‘Making It,’ Stephanie Malia Krauss delivers a wake-up call about the need to align the core of American education with the ever-changing demands of the workplace. She lays out a compelling vision of the currencies that will be essential to adults in coming decades and argues persuasively for a wholesale reimagination of how we educate all students — from toddlers through adults seeking to upgrade skills. For a roadmap to a better future, dive into this book! To my educator friends in Hawaiʻi, and all educators out there, I echo Ted’s endorsement. During my reading all I could think about is how timely Stephanie Malia’s book will prove to be, especially after the events of this pandemic year. Stephanie Malia has deep roots in Hawaiʻi. She is Native Hawaiian, a kanaka maoli whose Tutu Nui (grandma) and her family are from from Moloka’i. Her aunties there were teachers, including supporting the state school on Kalaupapa. Her Papa Nui’s (grandfather) family is from Maui. Born on a plantation there, he was orphaned, but there is evidence that his ancestry traces back to royalty. Stephanie Malia was raised on the “mainland” (the other 49 states), but spent early summers with grandparents in Maunawili on O’ahu. She sees writing this book as her kuleana (responsibility) after eight years off the frontline and into national work. To learn more about Stephanie Malia go to StephanieMaliaKrauss.com. To purchase her book, which I recommend, search for Making It on Amazon.com. Part II of this interview will be coming soon! Stay safe and in good health, everyone.
What do teachers need from their administrators? According to Jonathon Medeiros a bit of magic. What magic, you ask? To be known, really known, and respected for the experiences they bring to every conversation about students and learning. Jonathon writes: Too often, while teachers are reaching toward our students, inviting them in and making them feel valuable, administrators are planning meetings in air-conditioned offices by filling time slots and checking compliance boxes instead of thinking about who their teachers are, what we might need, what we bring to the table. These are opportunities missed. Jonathon has been teaching and learning about Language Arts and rhetoric for 15 years with his students on Kauaʻi. He frequently writes about education policy and is the former director of the Kauaʻi Teacher Fellowship. He also enjoys building things, surfing, and spending time with his wife (a future episode guest) and daughters. He is currently working on a few projects, including a collection of essays, a collection of poems from his familyʻs daily writing practice during the global pandemic shutdown, and a journal about his days in the ocean. He is a self-styled contrarian, so stay tuned to see how that plays out! Jonathon has been member of the Hawaii Department of Education – State Office, Leadership Institute. He has been a Hawaiʻi State Teacher Fellow and a WASC visiting team member. He has a M.Ed. in Teaching and Learning from the University of Oregon: an M.A. in Literature from Portland State University: and a B.A. in English from University of Portland. As always, our theme music and post production editing is provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Please stay safe, wear your masks and bring kindness and compassion to the world.
What can we educators do to insure that kids coming out of elementary school don’t have their natural, innate curiosity, creativity and ingenuity crushed out of them by middle school, and later, high school? What is student-driven learning and what is the real meaning of student agency? In this episode I interviewed Matthew Tom, a teacher and media specialist at Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School in central Honolulu on O’ahu. Matthew engages his students in ways I find completely inspiring and want everyone to know about. He is the Faculty advisor for Stevenson’s media service organization, which specializes in event photography and producing digital media content for the school. Matthew’s program seeks to build and maintain a positive campus culture, excite students about photography and videography, and build student skills in digital media production. Matthew is also the faculty advisor for Tusitala, which is the Literary and Arts Magazine at Stevenson recently recognized by the National Council of Teachers of English. Tusitala means “the teller of tales” in Samoan and is the name Samoans gave to Robert Louis Stevenson when he traveled there. Matthew has taught or been an edtech specialist in Hawaii, Japan and Washington. His undergraduate in English is from Willamette University. He has a masters in curriculum and teaching from the University of Oregon and is currently in a professional practice, doctoral program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa. Matthew’s teacher website is an absolute wonderland of student exhibitions of learning and imaginative curriculums. In the years ahead Matthew will be one of Hawaii’s leaders when it comes to students owning their learning journeys. As always, our theme music and post production is provided by Daniel Gilad of DG Sound Creations. For more on Daniel, or to book him for your next music gig, check out his new website or Facebook page. Please stay safe, wear your masks and bring kindness into the world. Until next time!
What is the purpose of an education? When and where does learning happen? What does it mean to evaluate learning? What does “assessment” mean? What does it mean when we talk about “capturing” learning (as if learning is some sort of fish in the sea)? What is the relationship between student and teacher when student-driven learning sits at the core of the classroom, or learning space? It’s these and other essential questions Fred Delse and Will Reppun tackled when they decided to found and develop the learning capture app, Unrulr, which is now being tested and used by public, private and charter schools here in Hawaiʻi. Marc Allard, a science, engineering and design teacher at the Menlo School in California said the following about Unrulr: I care about process; it’s super important. And Unrulr is one of the only ways, if I think about it, to get evidence of process. Even if we’re not dealing with COVID, this is good for process. Evan Beachy, Strategy and Transformation at Kamehameha Schools, states: What makes Unrulr special is that it speaks the language of social media, which is the parlance of today’s youth. Being able to express yourself with words, pictures, videos and other formats means that you can paint a really unique picture of who you are and what you’ve done. But more important than all of that, you can do this in a way that encourages collaboration and discussion with others. Fred Delse has worked in roles varying from software engineer to product management to corporate administration for Hewlett-Packard, Yahoo, Tetris Online and ‘ike Hawaii. He has two masters degrees; one from Stanford and the other from The Anderson School of business at UCLA. Will Reppun is a graduate of Punahou School here in Honolulu and has a degree in computer science from Harvard University. He was an optimization engineer at Navatek, a technical director and instructor at New Horizons Prep in Shanghai and a senior engineer at Exiger Analytics. Most recently he was director of product development at Data House in Honolulu, where he met Fred and they hatched Unrulr. As always, the original music and sound editing in these episodes is provided by Daniel Gilad of DG Sound Creations. Check out his new website! If you like or love this podcast, please give us a rating and review at your favorite podcast store. Take care, be safe and please bring kindness into the world.
My guest today for this final episode of Semester 1 of Season 2 is Aaron Jamal Schorn, Nalukai Foundation Program and Academy Startup Camp Director, and Capstone Coordinator at Hawai’i Preparatory Academy on Hawai’i Island. At Nalukai, Aaron creates and implements curriculum, hustles to find mentors and teaches digital storytelling. Outside of Nalukai he is focused on creating student-centered systems to authentically tell the story of learning communities. Aaron has published articles on local magazines including this one about teaching in the time of COVID. At Hawai’i Preparatory Academy (HPA) he teaches Digital Journalism and Social Entrepreneurship courses that are centered around Product-Based Learning, the Lean Startup methodology, project management, and building digital brands. His classes are supported by mentors across industries working directly with students on their products. Aaron’s professional background is in international business, digital storytelling, operations, management, UX/UI, and content creation. Most importantly, Aaron is the Capstone Coordinator at HPA, which gives kids in the 5th, 8th and 12th grades the opportunity to build a project that elevates and improves their surrounding communities. Aaron’s work on capstone programs is pioneering and will globally shape the way these types of opportunities are given to students in the future. Back in February, 2020 his 90 capstone students were moving intently towards the second half of their projects. Then, COVID-19 hit and everything went upside down. Undeterred, not only did HPA students execute pandemic pivots and complete their projects, they also completed their public exhibitions of learning, this time in virtual spaces built and designed by Aaron. I was one of the observers invited into these digital exhibition spaces. It was…epic. In this Semester 1, Season 2 capstone episode Aaron and I dive deep into what school could be, what learning could be, what student agency would be if we turned ownership of learning over to them. As you listen to Aaron, note the joy in his voice when he talks about Hawaiʻi and the ways his students are shaping its present, and future. Aaron is a dear friend who has inspired me to jump higher and reach further towards this show’s credo, which is “100% by Yesterday.” As always, our show’s theme music, and editing is provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. To learn more about Daniel, or to book him for your next music gig, navigate to his Facebook page. If you love this episode, please give us a rating and review at your favorite podcast store. Semester 2 of Season 2 starts again in February. Until then, stay safe, wear your masks, stay physically distant from one another and please, bring kindness into the world. We need more.
Metamorphosis, dragon flies, Hoʻokipa writers, coffee talks, Poetic Couture, Carol Dwek and finding the Filipina within, oh my! My guest today is Jannica Breslin in an episode I am calling my Teach for America Special. This is a partnership with Jill Baldemor, the Executive Director of Teach for America Hawai`i. When I offered Jill the opportunity to name a TFA Hawaiʻi alum to be on this podcast, after some consideration, she named Jannica Breslin. There have been many TFA alums as guests on this podcast, but none specifically named by TFA Hawaii’s top brass, which is way cool. Jannica is a middle school language arts teacher at Konawaena Middle School on Hawai‘i Island. She was a 2009 Teach for America corps member, which would make this her 12th year in education. Jannica was in the same cohort year as Justin Brown, who I interviewed on this podcast for Season 1. TFA Hawaiʻi Executive Director, Jill Baldemor said the following about her pick for this episode: “Jannica is a humble local girl, a public school graduate of Farrington High School, and not as well known, but definitely a bright light in her approach and leadership, which has been especially apparent during COVID. She was one of the first teachers to proactively stand up informal teacher collaboration groups to share best practices in distance learning and she’s helped her school a bunch in the transition.” In this episode Jannica and I ranged across a variety of subjects including her passion for writing, her love of vulnerabilities and growth mindsets, her Aloha for TFA and what it takes to get middle school kids excited about words. She is funny, thoughtful (there are long pauses between my question and the start of her responses) and she cares deeply about children. Jannica teaches with another, former podcast guest, Shawna Gunnarson. What an extraordinary opportunity for kids in Kona to learn from Shawna and Jannica! As always, our theme music and editing is done by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. You can learn more about Daniel at his Facebook page. I am super pleased to note that 41 out of 41 listeners have given our podcast a 5 star rating. We appreciate this very much and thank you for the wonderful written reviews. If you love these episodes with remarkable and innovative educators and education leaders, please give us your own rating and write us a review at your favorite podcast store.
What exactly is student voice? This question has become the hot topic in public, private and charter schools here in Hawaiʻi, for which I am glad. Sometimes the conversation revolves around giving students agency over their learning. At other times we talk about public exhibitions of learning and the ways students might articulate what they know and what they can do. Conversations around student activism, especially around ways to encourage kids to be politically active, seem fewer and farther between. I wonder sometimes if we are afraid to encourage this kind of deep community involvement for fear that parents might object or schools might feel liable. My guest today is Kawika Ke Koa Pegram, a recent graduate of Waipahu High School now matriculating at American University in Washington, DC. He cares not for these debates, in my humble opinion, because he is too busy acting on his beliefs, political and otherwise. Kawika is a member of the Youth Commission for the State of Hawaiʻi. He is also the Executive Director of the Hawaiʻi Youth Climate Coalition and a Youth Activist for the United States Youth Climate Strike. Kawika has written articles on climate change for both the Honolulu Star Advertiser and Hawaiʻi Business Magazine. He was especially active in the leadup to local and national elections here and in Nevada in the Fall of 2020. He is one of more than 60 student leaders who have stepped up to lead climate strikes in cities and towns across the country in 2019 as part of a global school strike for climate action modeled after the example of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. He was inspired to become a leader for climate action after East Island, a small and unpopulated island in the French Frigate Shoals, was swallowed up by the sea after a hurricane last fall. He has forged contacts with the Hawaiʻi chapters of organizations like 350.org and the Sierra Club, as well as progressive political groups like Our Revolution and The Progressive Movement of Hawaiʻi. His role in the movement involves creating messaging, working directly with student government groups across Hawaii to get youth on board, and gathering support from elected officials like Senator Mazie Hirono. In short, Kawika Ke Koa Pegram is a – to use Guy Kawasaki’s term – a “remarkable person,” and he is just getting started. In this interview I pitched him some pretty philosophical questions about life on Planet Earth and range vs. specificity. He knocked them out of the park. So please enjoy and if you love this conversation, give us a rating and review at your fav podcast store. As always, my sound editor and the creator of our theme music is Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Dial him up at his Facebook Page.
I have learned, as a podcast host, that some episode interviews are question and response, and some conversations are more…intimate. My episode here with Ululani Shiraishi is decidedly the latter. Ululani gave me a gift during this interview, a phrase I will use in my life going forward: Working at the edge of your seat. She comes from a place of part frenzy crazy, and part deliberate intentional. And she is always, always working at the edge of her seat. This conversation touched on what it means to be 100% wife, 100% mother, 100% teacher all at the same time; the purpose of getting a graduate degree; the energy generated when one is forced to “pivot” (to use an overused Covid-19 term); the current revolution in education and the crazy cool things going on at Kamehameha Schools, Maui Campus; the special things that happen when we leave just a little room for margins in our lives, and much more. This will easily go down as one of my favorite interviews in either the 1st or 2nd season of this podcast series. There were times when I forgot I was recording the thing. Ululani is a treasure, a luminous and effervescent being on an epic personal and professional journey. More on Ululani Shiraishi: she is a Kamehameha Schools Maui, middle school language arts teacher who is deep into SEL, Hawaiian culture and trans-disciplinary teaching and learning. She is on the KSBE Maui Middle School Leadership Team and is a close partner with Kui Gapero, one of my early guests on this podcast in Season One. Ululani is a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools’ Keala‘ula Innovations Institute, which is a creative learning program where Kamehameha Schools teachers focus on professional development. The program spotlights learning in terms of creativity, problem-solving and critical thinking, skills that are essential for students to succeed today and tomorrow. Ululani also taught in Hawaii’s public schools as a National Board Certified Teacher. At Kamehameha Schools Maui, she is an ardent believer in simultaneously teaching the heart and intellect of kids through engaging inquiry-based learning experiences. She is currently working on a graduate degree in student learning and well-being. Hope, self-efficacy, curiosity, and good old fashioned hard work drive her teaching and life. My huge thanks to Evan Reppun Beachy, who directs the Kealaʻula Institute for recommending Ululani. As always, our theme music and post-production editing is provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. To learn more about Daniel check out his Facebook page. If you love this episode please give us a rating and review in your favorite podcast store. Take care, be safe and bring kindness and compassion into the world.
Chris Balme, my guest for this “quick kine bites” episode, writes: “Middle school is one of life’s great forks in the road. As the time when puberty begins and thus incredible neurological changes are taking place, middle school has an outsized impact on child development. For some students, it’s the time they begin to find their voice, their social identity, their sense of self in a bigger world. For most, unfortunately, it’s the opposite of that–the time when students lose engagement in school, forgot their authentic sense of self for the ‘false self’ of whatever passes for cool in school, and begin orienting themselves to do whatever it takes to win social status. It is the time that most Americans describe as the worst part of their education, and possibly of their lives, yet educators, psychologists and neuroscientists would agree that it is one of the most formative and important times of our childhood. What is going on with middle school? This paradox led me to co-found Millennium School, a laboratory middle school in San Francisco. Our premise was that middle school is so often painful (for both the students and adults around them) because it’s designed without a basis in developmental science. It’s not aligned with the core drives middle schoolers feel, the drives that are wired into their psyches and biology. As a result, we miss the opportunities of what could be a beautiful phase in which giant leaps are taken toward adulthood, and when kids often discover the first real signs of adult potential within themselves. We spent three years researching the underlying developmental science of this age before we started Millennium, visiting schools, professors, thinkers, kids, parents, teachers, etc., and I’ve now spent nearly four years running our lab school to put the resulting practices into action. It’s still too early to say anything comprehensive about our insights, but we do have a few early suggestions from our adventure so far. What I’ve seen already has given me great confidence that middle school can be a consistently positive, inspiring, highly engaging experience for young people, one in which they greatly develop their minds, their sense of self, and a wide range of capacities and intelligences.” Chris Balme stepped away from The Millennium School in June, 2020 to found Argonaut: “Argonaut is a ‘pop-up’ camp designed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In-person camps may be closing, but summer is not lost. Summer can still be a time of adventure, exploration and self-discovery. The name Argonaut comes from the Greek myth of the Argonauts, a band of heroes who embarked on an epic quest and had adventures of all kinds along the way.” If you love this “quick kine bites” episode please rate us in your Apple Podcast, Spotify or Stitcher platform, and give us a review!
The Kupu Hou Special: When I asked my dear friends, Mark Hines and John Cheever at Kupu Hou Academy to recommend a Kupu Hou friend and supporter to interview for this podcast, they both immediately and enthusiastically recommended Po’o Kumu Kaulana Smith. Kumu Kaulana is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School located near the ocean in a small township on the northeast shore of Hawaiʻi Island. Laupahoehoe serves approximately 300 students from pre-school through 12th grade. Kumu Kaulana has worked with Hawaii’s students in public education and the community for many years. She came to Laupahoehoe Charter School with experience in the fields of Special Education and Administration. She has experience with a variety of student-centered learning programs, interventions, and support services in partnership with an array of organizations including the Foundation for Excellent Schools, the Pacific American Foundation, the Hawai’i Network of Learning Communities, the High Tech Youth Network, and Kupu Hou Academy. She also participates with parent and community groups in enhancing student and school development, including Laupahoehoe Governing Board, WASC Accreditation and the Hawaiʻi Association of Independent Schools. Previously, Kumu Kaulana served at Kawaikini New Century Public Charter School in Special Education and as Student Services Coordinator. From the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa, Kumu Kaulana has a Bachelor of Arts in English. From Chaminade University in Honolulu she has a Master of Education in Special Education and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership. In this conversation we ranged across education in ancient Hawaiʻi to the broad expanse of project-based learning. My editor, show consultant and sound engineer is Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Daniel, an amazing musician, created the original theme music heard in these episodes. To learn more about Daniel or to hire him for YOUR next music gig, check out his Facebook URL.
Prior to all interviews for this podcast series I ask guests to provide me with a bushel of biographic material, their resumes, stuff they have published in print or online, etc. I use these “artifacts of a life” to build my interview questions. Of all the artifacts Mathieu Williams provided for me this 7th episode interview, a short YouTube video titled “Better | Mamba Forever | Nike” really stood out. I wondered, Why did Mathieu put this item in his portfolio when it is not about him? It’s only 70 seconds but boy oh boy, does it explain our 2019 State Teacher of the Year. At first you think it’s a Nike commercial, and then you think it’s a Nike tribute to Kobe Bryant, but in fact it’s a tribute to those who strive to be better, and better and better. Mathieu Williams was our State Teacher of the Year because he constantly strives to be…better. It’s why I love the man, why I admire him so much, why everyone in Hawaiʻi, public, private, charter and community admires him so much and why his students love working with him. He is the ultimate guide, coach, sponsor and mentor of our Hawaiʻi youth, and for that, we are all grateful. Mathieu has a degree in business administration and web design from Walla Walla University, and a masters in educational leadership from Chaminade University, here in Hawaiʻi. He is a Hope Street Group Hawaiʻi teacher fellow, and a global teacher fellow with Teachers for Global Education. On Hawaiʻi Island in Kona, Mathieu co-designed the Alumni Mentors Program for Teach for America Hawaiʻi to promote increased community engagement and build models of sustainable leadership within schools. He also taught special education, which means he collaborated with co-teachers and paraprofessionals to differentiate instruction for 40 students. Perhaps most importantly, Mathieu is a digital education teacher and mentor/coach for the Hawk Media Productions, a program at Kealakehe Intermediate School on Hawaiʻi Island. His impact on kids over the past decade is simply…staggering. This is a particularly wonderful interview for me because last season Mathieu’s Hawk Media students, Mei Kanada and Marlon Utrera chief among them, did all the post production editing and voice overs for this series. In fact, towards the end of this episode you will hear Mei Kanada talk about what it meant to be our project manager and chief editor. Mei and Uncle Josh, we became a team and I am a better person for it. As always, this season’s post production is by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. To learn more about Daniel visit his Facebook page. Stay safe, wear your masks and please, give us a rating at your favorite podcast store.
To be a learning coach, a teacher-leader, an educator coach and an expert on kids with special needs, some on the autistic spectrum, you have to be a deeply empathetic person…right down to your core. Danielle Mizuta has empathy in spades. Empathy is in her DNA. I have known this for a long, long time. She and I got our graduate degrees about the same time, in the late 90s. Over the years she has been a tremendous supporter of my @MLTSinHawaii “movement,” at film screenings, event design sessions and professional development workshops. So it is with great pleasure that I present Danielle here, today as my second season’s 6th podcast guest. Over these 90 minutes we ranged through teacher capacity building, the best of service-learning, a chapter she wrote for a recently published book from the Ahimsa Center (see her photo) and the promises we should be making to our public, private and charter school kids. And much more. If you enjoy this episode, please give us a rating and review at your favorite podcast platform. Here is more info on Danielle. Danielle Mizuta, MEd, taught special education in the Hawaii State Department of Education for 13 years. She has taught and co-taught in fully self-contained, resource, and inclusion classrooms in elementary and high school settings. Danielle earned two Masters in Education degrees from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Educational Foundations in 2004, and in Special Education and Teaching in 2007. She served as a State Level, Lead Mentor for the Hawaii DOE mentoring beginning teachers new to the profession in their first to third years. She also supported complex area Induction Coordinators with their mentors, mentor forums, and beginning teacher PLCs (Professional Learning Communities). Danielle also trained master teachers in mentoring skills to support new teachers at their schools in instructional mentoring, coaching and observation and analyzing student work. Additionally, Danielle completed a term as a Hawaii Hope Street Fellow and Regional Teacher Fellow Coach with Hope Street Hawaii. Currently she serves as an Instructor for Leeward Community College and a Learning Support Specialist at Punahou School, supporting faculty, staff, and families of students with learning differences. As always, our original theme music and episode post-production is by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. To learn more about Daniel’s work, explore his Facebook page. Take care, wear your masks, maintain social distancing and be kind to one another!
In schools, as in life, the commodity in shortest supply is time. How we spend our time is how we enact our values (SEEQS.org). Buffy Cushman-Patz and I have known each other for a long time. Mere words cannot capture the enormous respect I have for her and the work she has done in our community. And, it was my high privilege to be on the team she assembled to write SEEQS charter. So what is SEEQS? It’s the School for Examining the Essential Questions of Sustainability, a secondary public charter school in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi founded in 2013. It currently serves approximately 180 students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades (though its charter calls for the eventual creation of a high school). SEEQS offers a community-focused, interdisciplinary project-based, tuition-free secondary school experience for Oahu families. This episode is different than any that come before. I decided to use Buffy’s resume and record of accomplishments to build questions that would help the two of us examine the genome, the DNA of her school. The result is not a deep dive into the weeds, but a marvelous hot air balloon trip to 30,000 feet above our object, with strands of SEEQS DNA floating around us like lovely clouds. More on Buffy: In 2010-2011 Buffy was honored with an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship. She served her fellowship year at the National Science Foundation’s Office of Legislative and Public Affairs. Buffy completed her Masters in School Leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in May 2012. She has been a strong and clear voice for education redesign in Hawaii. She is a member of the Hawai’i Innovative Leadership Network and a mentor to other public, private and charter school leaders in this state. Ted Dintersmith once said, on live TV, that he could have filmed his acclaimed documentary, Most Likely to Succeed at SEEQS, which is the ultimate compliment. – As always in this 2nd season, our theme music and post production editing was provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. To learn more about Daniel, or to hire him for your next music gig, check out his Facebook page. I hope you enjoy this conversation! If you do, please give us a rating and review in your podcast store.
Dan Gaudiano is the Academy Science Department Head at Punahou School. He has a BA in geology from Colgate University. At the University of South Carolina Columbia he earned an MS in geology, and then a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). Dan has written in scientific journals, authored scientific papers, been a coastal geologist and a scientific researcher. He was the lead coordinator for a water conservation project in Hawai’i and has been a curriculum resource teacher with an emphasis on technology integration. (Catch this article in the Punahou Bulletin to know more about ways Dan thinks “beyond the classroom.”) A number of my colleagues have mentioned Dan’s seminal presentation on student stress at the 2019 Schools of the Future Conference. Most of all, what you get from reviewing Dan’s body of work so far is that he cares deeply about kids and learning. There is no doubt that he has a growth mindset and is continually developing his teaching practice. In this interview Dan and I talked about inch deep and a mile wide, vs. posthole learning. We talked about student travel and his own trip to Samoa as part of the Malama Honua voyages. We went deep into capstone projects, design thinking, competency-based learning and what it takes to build communities of practice. It was a marvelous conversation. If you like it, please give us a rating and review at your podcast store! As always, this episode was edited by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Find out more about Daniel at his Facebook page. This series is funded by Ted Dintersmith, the author of the bestselling book, What School Could Be.
“All Good Things Are Wild and Free” (Henry David Thoreau). As it turns out this episode is four years in the making. At the very start of my work with Ted Dintersmith and his film, Most Likely to Succeed, Christina Hoe, a humanities teacher at Le Jardin Academy, reached out to me via an intermediary and asked to bring all 77 of her students to my 2nd MLTS screening in January, 2016. What followed was a wild and crazy ride that resulted in her students doing a deep dive into education, carrying out a double, evening community screening of MLTS (these 9th graders facilitated the post film table discussions) on campus, and proposing, as their semester projects, new courses for the Le Jardin course catalogue. Four years later, Christina is my interview guest! How cool is that? I am super stoked about this interview. Christina and I cover some serious ground in our quest to dive deeper into what school could be. She is a Teach for America graduate who first taught at the Isobel Rooney public school in the Bronx. She moved to Hawaii in 2005 and joined the faculty at Le Jardin Academy, a medium sized independent school on the Windward Side of the island of Oahu. Today at Le Jardin she is the Dean of Experiential Education and Community Partnerships. In her words, she takes kids into the forest and leads Socratic seminars on all types of subjects. Christina is also the Executive Director of the Wild Community Foundation. More on that towards the end of the episode. Finally, during the initial Covid-19 lockdown on Oahu Christina spearheaded a campus and community initiative to use 3D printers to make filtration masks, and sewing circles to make fabric face masks. As much as anyone I know Christina Hoe’s world is centered on unleashing the potential in all children. She knows, for sure, the purpose of education, teaching and learning. This episode was edited by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Daniel also provided the original theme music. To contact Daniel, navigate to his DG Sound Creations Facebook page. If you like this episode, or this series, please give us a rating and review at your favorite podcast store. Take care, be safe, wear your masks, be kind to each other.
At the end of this episode Waikiki Elementary School educator, Lory Peroff read the following excerpt from a poem: The people I love the best, Jump into work head first, I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart, Who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience, Who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward, Who do what has to be done, again and again. (Marge Percy “To Be of Use”) In so many ways, Percy’s stanza captures what Lory thinks, what she feels and how she approaches each day with her family, her faculty colleagues and her student learners. On several occasions Lory has described herself as “doing things I didn’t know I couldn’t do.” Amen, Lory! Lory’s journey, in this episode, starts with the Pease Corps in Uzbekistan, moves to Tonga, then to Boston and ultimately to Hawaiʻi. Along the way her focus is relentlessly on kids. She has taught 4th and 5th grade in Honolulu and in Taiwan. Her undergraduate degree, from the University of Colorado, is in the arts and psychology. She has a masters in elementary education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she earned a 4.0 GPA. While at the University of Colorado she did an exchange program in Ghana, West Africa. Lory has lived and worked on multiple continents. Her worldview is expansive and she has great range. Lory is an advocate for teachers as writers, and has written extensively on life and learning for Honolulu Civil Beat, Medium, Education Week and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She is a distance swimmer and runner, and loves to travel. Most of all, Lory is hugely respected in public, private and charter school circles in Hawaii. Her voice is clear and strong. She is #publicschoolproud and a leading light for whole child instruction. (Post production and original theme music provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Creations. To learn more about Daniel’s work, or if you are interested in hiring him for your next music gig, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or navigate to his Facebook page.)
Matthew Lynch and I recorded this interview back on March 24th, just as the Covid-19 “shelter-in-place” lockdown began in Hawaiʻi. What we planned to do in person suddenly had to be done via Zoom. The resulting audio is pretty sketch, but wow, Matthew and I covered some serious ground over a 90-minute conversation. Matthew is the Director of Sustainability Initiatives for all 10 campus of the University of Hawaiʻi system. Four years ago we met at a special Ted Dintersmith-hosted gathering at PBS Hawaiʻi. At the time I recall Matthew telling me, to my utter astonishment, that the UH systems had no sustainability degree. In Hawaiʻi? What? Matthew’s job at the time partially included helping students cobble together classes that might result in the perception of sustainability expertise. Since then, wow!, Matthew has come along way and accomplished so much. To know the details of his journey you will need to listen to the episode! Over 90 minutes Matthew and I covered a range of topics, including ways Covid-19 will profoundly change living, and learning at every level. Matthew also serves as the President of the Board of Directors at Kahumana Organic Farm, and as Sustainability Measures Co-Chair on the Board of Directors for Hawaii Green Growth, which is a public-private partnership. The Office of Sustainability at the University of Hawaiʻi functions as a backbone organization, working across UH campuses to complement, support and enhance the incredible sustainability work that has been emerging over the past decade. Matthew’s office provides coordination capacity for campuses to share information and resources with each other and accelerate action to strengthen the environmental, social, cultural and economic health of our islands’ communities. To learn more about Matthew’s work, click on the University’s website. Post production for the What School Could Be in Hawaiʻi podcast is provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Daniel is also the musical director for our episodes. His original music creations are sprinkled throughout the episode timeline. To learn more about Daniel’s work, or to hire him for your next music gig, email him at DGcreations808@Gmail.com, or visit his Facebook page.
(Today, May 3rd, 2020 is Mei Kanada’s birthday. Mei, an 8th grader, is the Manager at Hawk Media Productions. She is also the editor of this episode, the last regular episode of this season and of her year at the helm of Hawk Media. Happy Birthday, Mei, and thank you for all your hard work! You are amazing!) And now, back to the show. Imagine a place where your lead elementary school teacher is a trained ballerina with a propensity for breaking out the dance moves during a lesson. Look no further than Maui and Heather Baylosis, a creative, imaginative and innovative teacher at Hawaiʻi Technology Academy’s Maui Campus. HTA is a seven-campus public charter school (on four islands) that uses a blended learning model. Heather came on my radar screen more than a year ago when she reached out to talk about rethinking “progress reports.” I suffered through some pretty cruel progress reports some 55 years ago in elementary school, so I was immediately thinking I wanted Heather on this podcast. Over more than an hour’s interview Heather and I ranged across topics related to blended learning, differentiated instruction, distance learning in the time of Covid-19, teaching the “whole child” and team building at the elementary level. Throughout the conversation Heather presented as a kind, compassionate and passionate student guide, coach and mentor. What a wonderful way to end Season One. In her resume she describes herself as “An experienced teacher who approaches education with a blend of creativity, connection, and communication. Heather blends these essential elements with data driven instruction to support her student’s success with project based learning. An integration of student choice projects and a cultivation of self awareness while learning and growing is what Mrs. Baylosis is all about!” Heather has a Bachelor of Science from State University of New York in Elementary Education with a concentration in early childhood and dance. She also has a Masters of Education, Reading and Literacy from Walden University in Minnesota. For more on Hawaiʻi Technology Academy, click here. As I get ready to hit the publish button, dear listeners, as Season One closes out we are at 11,780 downloads in 36 countries. Thank you!
From the very first minutes of this episode you will know for sure that Robyn Vierra loves being around kids. A Punahou parent told me Dr. Vierra is, and I quote, Truly the best teacher my kids have ever had. She is innovative, thoughtful and brilliant. She allows kids to run with their passions and is an inspiration. In one of my longer episodes Robyn, the Director of Global Education at Punahou School, and I range across a wide variety of subjects, including a day in the life of her 4th grade classroom, what it really means to have a global perspective, the dangers of “keeping it simple” during the 2020 Covid-19 crisis, models of distributed work in this 21st century, Kozol’s “Savage Inequalities,” competency-based learning and what it means to let kids be the change they want to see. From Sea of Islands Consulting we learn: “Born and raised in Hawaiʻi, Dr. Vierra left the islands to earn a BA from Claremont McKenna College and to join Teach For America’s ’03 LA Corps. During her placement, she taught 8th grade history while also earning an MA in Education from Loyola Marymount University. In 2008, Dr. Vierra earned an Advanced Literacy Certificate from Hamline University and transitioned to the elementary classroom. [Dr. Vierra] has a deep understanding of cross-cultural issues in education. She has been part of numerous task forces involving strategic planning, teacher evaluation, faculty council, teacher advisory, and WASC accreditation. She received her Doctorate in Education from the University of Minnesota in Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Her dissertation looked at “Critical Thinking Assessment: The relationship with academic achievement and demographic factors.” Her research interests are critical thinking assessment and instruction, service learning, and cross-cultural education. She consults on learning theory, instruction and delivery, data driven instruction, and action research. Dr. Vierra enjoys living in Hawaiʻi with her husband and two children.” Robyn is also the Associate Director of the Wo International Center at Punahou School. If you love this episode, please give it a rating in Apple Podcasts. The audio engineer for this episode was Thunder Studios Hawaii’s Daniel Gilad. The editor for this episode is Hawk Media’s Mei Kanada.
Meet Rob, Colin, Abbie and Miki, collectively known as the Cacace family. Colin and Abbie are a couple of wonderful rowdy kids, Rob works at the Myron B. Thompson Public Charter School and Miki is OUR Hawaiʻi 2019/2020 Milken Family Fund Award winner from Ewa Makai Middle School. It is hard to put into words what Miki has already accomplished in her career as a teacher, guide, mentor, coach. All the boxes – student agency, experiential learning, teacher collaboration, intentional design, problem-based learning, challenge-based learning, social and emotional inclusion, product-based learning, individualized inquiry, teacher as marketing agent – have already been checked. But Miki, in so many ways, is just getting started, which is what the folks at the Milken Family Fund recognized this year. More than anything, Miki desires a strong connection with her students, which is not an easy thing in a middle school with 1400 students. But under the guidance of one of Hawaii’s truly brilliant public school leaders, Ewa Makai Principal, Kim Sanders, she is making manifest a phrase that can all too often come off as cliché: Rigor, Relevance and Relationships. My middle school experience was dismal at best. One of the outcomes of preparing for this episode, and interviewing Miki, was that I longed to be back at school and in her coding classes. This is the highest compliment I can pay her! From the online announcement of Miki’s award by Milken, we get these awesome words: “In Miki Cacace’s yearlong coding class at Ewa Makai Middle School in Oahu’s Ewa Beach district of Honolulu, students learn by doing rather than watching. They create games and apps, wire their own micro: bits and troubleshoot device issues, building foundational skills they will need for 21st century careers. Cacace, a math teacher, volunteered to expand her curriculum with the coding class. Students had already chosen their electives, but Cacace promoted the new class during lunchtime, selling it as a fun and exciting alternative. Students signed up in droves, knowing that whatever Cacace was teaching, they were in good hands. She developed the curriculum with a combination of three days of summer training, resources from Project Lead the Way and Code.org and her trusted cache of instructional strategies. Cacace’s students invite friends to try out their apps, offer constructive suggestions and vote for their favorites. Cacace showcases the group’s work at Coding Night, where parents and siblings check out students’ creations. In Cacace’s class, students build confidence and practice problem-solving, decision-making and collaboration skills. During field trips to the Microsoft and Apple stores, students talk to professionals about their STEM backgrounds. Many of Cacace’s students start the year unsure of how their studies connect to their future lives and careers; Cacace bridges that gap. Building a pipeline of students who excel in computer science is a priority: Cacace is working with her peers at the district’s elementary and high schools to create a K-12 computer science program, and an advanced coding class for Ewa Makai has been established as well. She mentors new teachers and is an active member of CSTA (Computer Science Teachers Association).” To learn more about Miki, click here. FYI, this episode was recorded via phone bridge to a studio in Hawaiʻi during the Covid-19 crisis. My thanks to Daniel Gilad for engineering the audio at Thunder Studios Hawaiʻi.
I first met Justin Brown four years ago at a small Most Likely to Succeed film screening at West Hawaiʻi Explorations Academy just outside Kona. After the film, Justin (who mentors, guides and coaches kids in Kealakehe High School’s CTE, STEM and maker spaces) sat at the far end of a small panel examining the essential questions raised by Ted Dintersmith’s film. He spoke last in the first round and I recall being instantly blown away by his global understanding of public, private and charter school education. Justin is already a big guy with a big and bushy red beard, but heart is the size of California. He cares deeply about the kids he teaches and guides. He believes deeply in their agency, their ability to chart their own courses. He believes kids are complicated bundles of potential energy waiting to be unleashed at “school.” At conferences and gatherings over the past four years I have seen Justin do things with kids that put him way, way outside the box. He says, in this interview: “Improv is the defining skill of the 21st century. Empathy is the defining mindset of the 21st century.” How’s about them apples? In this episode Justin and I explore some of the biggest questions (IMHO) of education today. Why don’t more kids like school? What does it mean to fly a plane while building it? Are we preparing kids for the complex moral and ethical questions of 2020 and beyond? What about upskilling, and reskilling preparation in schools? What will “school” be in 10 or 20 years? What’s the role of the generalist and the specialist here in the 21st century? And much more. From Justin’s resume we get: “Justin Brown currently serves as the CTE Coordinator, STEM Academy Director, and lead adviser to over two dozen STEM & Citizenship programs at Kealakehe High in Kona, Hawaii. Traveling frequently with students, Mr. Brown was the lead advisor for over 40 competitions last year and his team won several births to international championships. Coming from five generations of educators, he has planned to work in education policy since the age of 10. Before entering the classroom, Mr. Brown worked as a jazz/classical bassist and believes that improvisation remains the essential skill for 21st-century success. He is an ASCD National Emerging Leader: Stanford FabLearn Fellow: Lemelson-MIT Excite Award Recipient: Woody Flowers Recipient: Hope Street Group State Fellow: National Board Certified Teacher.” To learn more about Kealakehe HS click here. This episode was edited by Marlon Utrera Jr., a 7th grader at Kealakehe Intermediate School near Kona.
As the COVID-19 crisis began to roll over Hawaiʻi, I reached out to a group of trusted education friends and asked for the names of potential guests who could speak clearly to the conceptual, and technical nature of so-called distance learning. Very quickly my colleagues suggested Leslie Witten, and glad I am that they did. Leslie is an education technology specialist at Le Jardin Academy, a medium sized independent school on the Windward side of Oahu. She has a BA from UCLA in ethnomusicology and a M.Ed. from National University with an emphasis on 21st century learning and teaching methodologies and constructivism. She has been involved with Hawaii’s Schools of the Future project since the very beginning. Leslie describes herself on LinkedIn as: “Dynamic, positive, experienced educator, technology and library media specialist; highly competent, collaborative, and innovative; proven track record in creating twenty-first century learning communities. Enthusiastic, committed professional with a deep passion for providing people of all ages with opportunities to reach their own potential. Active life-long learner of best practice in education.” I divided this episode into two parts. Part 1 is more about the social, emotional and conceptual issues related to distance learning and learning at home. Part 2 is more about the technical elements of virtual learning, and about the lingo. I hope this episode proves useful to parents, educators and education leaders both in Hawaiʻi and outside the state. To learn more about Leslie, click on her LinkedIn page.
To say Whitney Sayuri Aragaki speaks passionately about education is to make a vast understatement. Over a wide ranging conversation about learning “holistically,” indigenous ways of knowing and doing, teacher empowerment, building educator capacity, preparation for 21st century workspaces, student engagement and what makes her hometown, Hilo, so special, her voice came through, time and again, loud and very clear. Whitney is a science teacher at Waiakea High School on Hawaiʻi Island. In a personal statement she wrote: “My overarching aspirations in the next twenty years of my career aim to: 1) contextualize science and math education to be grounded in both western and indigenous ways of knowing: 2) continue to empower teachers to gain greater control over their curricula, and: 3) reestablish teacher credibility to make decisions for the school and district systems.” Whitney is a PhD Candidate in Curriculum Studies at the College of Education at UH Manoa. She has a MS in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science. Her thesis title was: “Detection of susceptibility to risk factors for type-2 diabetes mellitus in a multi-ethnic community in Hawai‘i.” She graduated from Summa Cum Laude from the school were she now teaches, Waiakea HS. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and a teacher of the NCAC model-certified Public Services Academy. In a Hawaiʻi Department of Education newsletter she wrote: “When we allow students, at any grade level, to create their learning spaces and engage in projects aligned to their needs, they rise to the challenge, exceed expectations, and develop a strengthened sense of belonging in their community.” Amen, Whitney. Amen! To learn more about Waiakea HS, click here. If you love this podcast, please give us a rating in Apple Podcasts.
In part 2 of my interview with Wasfia Nazreen, we explore a range of issues related to her life as a climber, her leadership in the outdoor world, the elevation and education of women, and her relationship with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. If you are reading this episode description before you listen to the interview, I recommend you watch her short, award winning film, produced by Apple, Inc., and National Geographic. Wasfia was in Hawaiʻi in the Spring of 2020 for a series of school and pubic speaking events sponsored and organized by Hawaiʻi Technology Academy, a blended learning charter school with seven campuses on four Hawaiʻi islands. My huge thanks to HTA’s Mary Wenstrom for reaching out to make Wasfia available for this podcast. From Wasfia’s website we learn: “Wasfia Nazreen is the only woman to hold the simultaneous titles of National Geographic Explorer & Adventurer. Although she is known for being the first Bangladeshi and Bengali in the world to climb the Seven Summits or, the highest mountains of every continent, her passion has always been driven by causes close to her heart. She has won numerous national and global awards for her activism and commitment to empowering women through the field of adventure. She was named by Outside magazine as one of 40 women in the last 40 years who have advanced and challenged the outdoor world through their leadership, innovation, and athletic feats, and by Men’s Journal as one of the 25 most adventurous women of the past 25 years. She is the founder of Osel Foundation, which empowers marginalized girls from Bangladesh through the outdoors.”
What a privilege to interview Steve Sue (in his Kaimuki, Honolulu kitchen, ergo the sounds of traffic and songbirds) for one of my “on the road” episodes. Steve is the “Chief Lemon Head” at Lemonade Alley, a youth entrepreneur program, and Chairman of Bizgenics Foundation, a Hawaii-based 501(C)(3) nonprofit. In a wide ranging, hour-long conversation, Steve and I tackle some of the pressing issues related to entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, imagination and business in K-12 education. Steve’s energy is infectious, and his optimism is reassuring. He is quick on the draw and sees everything from a 360 perspective. While most of his time is dedicated to Bizgenics, he’s also active in several technology-based ventures largely through SaaS Ventures. His career includes 25 years as a story expert, conceptualist and startup guy in entertainment, hospitality, food service, retail, product and software development. Steve holds a BA in design from UCLA and a JD from UC Berkeley. One thing Steve learned in law school was that he didn’t want to be a lawyer. But his legal education has served well throughout his career. And while he began his career in the family home-building business, he soon proved more valuable as a designer eventually branching out into a global career creating theme parks, live entertainment productions, corporate theater events, retail environments, restaurants, product brands and mega-resort casinos. The combination resulted in a blend of skills from business through marcom strategy, with Steve becoming known as a branding expert. He donates most of his time to Bizgenics Foundation, provider of youth innovation and entrepreneurship programs including Lemonade Alley, Project Lemon Tree (an eco-STEM program), BizzyB.com (a Cloud-based project-based learning platform), HaccUp (an app development accelerator) and STEMCities (a community change management platform). To ensure that Bizgenics programs remain relevant, Steve serves on a number of advisory boards including the National Ecosystem Advisory Council (EAC) for the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice (SLECoP), Hawai’iloa EcosySTEM Cabinet, A’o Aloha Social Emotional Learning Collaborative, Hawai’i State Workforce Development Council, James Campbell High School Academy Advisory Board and Entrepreneurs Foundation of Hawai’i. Steve also mentors at Aloha Chapter, Scouting BSA (Steve is an Eagle Scout), UH Entrepreneurs and Blue Startups. If you love this episode, please give us a rating in Apple Podcasts.
Wasfia Nazreen absolutely loves life. This became very clear during my interview with her for this 12th the-road-episode. She is funny, insightful, deep, kind and compassionate, among other qualities. My questions revolved around finding freedom, the role of mindfulness in schools, learning to make decisions and think critically in life threatening situations (as in climbing massive mountains), how teachers can become guides and mentors, and how she documents her life, thoughts and insights. If you are reading this episode description before you listen to the interview, I recommend you watch her short, award winning film, produced by Apple, Inc., and National Geographic. Wasfia was in Hawaiʻi for a series of school and pubic speaking events sponsored and organized by Hawaiʻi Technology Academy, a blended learning charter school with seven campuses on four Hawaiʻi islands. My huge thanks to HTA for reaching out to make Wasfia available for this podcast. From Wasfia’s website we learn: “Wasfia Nazreen is the only woman to hold the simultaneous titles of National Geographic Explorer & Adventurer. Although she is known for being the first Bangladeshi and Bengali in the world to climb the Seven Summits or, the highest mountains of every continent, her passion has always been driven by causes close to her heart. She has won numerous national and global awards for her activism and commitment to empowering women through the field of adventure. She was named by Outside magazine as one of 40 women in the last 40 years who have advanced and challenged the outdoor world through their leadership, innovation, and athletic feats, and by Men’s Journal as one of the 25 most adventurous women of the past 25 years. She is the founder of Osel Foundation, which empowers marginalized girls from Bangladesh through the outdoors.”
One of the reasons why Hawaiʻi is emerging as a model of innovation, creativity and imagination in education can be explained by the words and actions of our public, private and charter school leaders, who, by and large, are fully focused on student-centered, student-driven learning. We are blessed in these islands to have, unlike other states, years of collegial and professional collaborations between the public, private and charter communities. In this episode, we hear from Micah Hirokawa, Head of School at Hakipu’i Academy Public Charter School, and Derek Minakami, Principal at Kaneohe Elementary School. These two schools are literally a couple miles apart on Oahu’s Windward Side. Both Derek and Micah are members of the Hawaiʻi Innovative Leaders Network. Both have much to say about what student-centered education looks, sounds and feels like. Both have been moving their respective schools into the 21st century while honoring Hawaii’s cultural history. Both are passionate about grounded and relevant life-long learning. In a personal statement, Micah writes: “I was the only person in Hawaii to be nominated and become a finalist as a GRAMMY Music Educator. In 2015 my music program at Island Pacific Academy won a GRAMMY Award. My favorite educators are Sir Ken Robinson, Ted Dintersmith, Young Zhao, and Rob Evans. In some crazy way, I also love Alfie Khon. My historic favorites are of course, John Dewey, Maria Montessori, and Rudolf Steiner.” Of his career objectives, Derek (who is passionate about science) intends: “To strengthen abilities as a school principal who acts with courage, responds with Aloha, and cultivates educational environments that inspires all to embrace learning, achieve at high levels, and discover their passions.” To learn more about Derek’s Kaneohe Elementary, click here. To learn more about Hakipu’u Academy, click here. If you like this episode, please give us a rating at Apple Podcasts!
Where do we start with Melissa Handy? Well, we start with the fact that her parents, in Pennsylvania, were both teachers. Even better, her father was her 5th grade teacher. Melissa writes, “My love for education started sprouting young.” I have known Melissa for a bunch of years, so it was pretty special to have her on this podcast. Needless to say, I had been looking forward to the moment for months. Melissa is a brilliant, brilliant thinker, and doer. Goodness, is she a doer! She is the Education Technology Director at Le Jardin Academy, a small independent school on the Windward Side of O’ahu. She is the Past President of the Hawaiʻi Society for Technology in Education. She is a champion robotics coach, and International Baccalaureate Examiner, a WASC Commissioner and one of the founders of the Hawaiʻi Education Leadership Summit, which is now HAIS’s Leading Schools of the Future conference. Should I continue? Of course! Melissa prefers not to refer to herself as a teacher. Rather, she is the ultimate guide, coach, facilitator and mentor for her students. Her kids “ride bikes” and she runs behind them as they learn to navigate thinking, doing and collaborating. She has a larger-than-life personality of an artist, a wonderful laugh and a mind sharp like a knife. She knows how to solve problems like no one else I know. So give this episode a listen as Melissa and I dig deep into 10 epic questions about life and learning. To learn more about Le Jardin Academy, click here. To read a wonderful article co-written by Melissa about maker spaces vs. maker mindsets, click here. To learn more about Leading Schools of the Future in Hawaii, click here. If you love this podcast, please give us a rating in your favorite podcast store!
Shawna Gunnarson has a heart as big as Montana. She exudes compassion, humor, kindness, innovation, creativity and imagination; on top of all that, she and her Mom founded the Dancing Goat Sanctuary, a place for wayward animals, energetically guarded by Starsky & Hutch, two frat-like goats. Oh yes, and she is an epic educator at Konawaena Middle School on Hawaiʻi Island (otherwise known as the Big Island), which is what brought her to this podcast. Shawna has worked with special education kids, taught in an AVID program, built education technology programs, served in her complex area administrative office, built science programs and guided/mentored other educators as a Hope Street Group Teacher-Leader Fellow, among other accomplishments. Listen as Shawna and I explore her work and her learning journey. If you love this episode, please give us a rating and comment in your favorite podcast store. From a Partners in Development online newsletter we learn: “Shawna Gunnarson is an educator and lifelong learner. As a teacher at Konawaena Middle School, Shawna leads students, and sometimes teachers, in learning about college and career readiness and applying technology in a variety of situations. In her other life, Shawna is a certifiable CoffeeGeek, helping to operate her family’s soil to cup coffee farm. The farm hosts an organic farming internship program where students from middle school through college age have the opportunity to explore connections among plants, soil, air, water, and animals (including the human kind). Tinkering and design thinking in the garden is actively encouraged, and fixed mindsets are forbidden! The farm also hosts a sanctuary for abused, abandoned, and unwanted sheep and goats. This is where Shawna serves as head wrangler for a variety of feathery, furry, and fabulous critters.”
Full disclosure, I was one of a small group of people who had the privilege to help write the charter for SEEQS, the School For Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability. I served on its founding board and consider it an honor to call its Executive Director, Buffy Cushman-Patz, my colleague and BFF. My love for this small, but growing epicenter of learning runs deep, which is why I am so pleased to present this episode with Zoe Ingerson. Listen and you will hear a strong, clear, articulate and intelligent voice for student agency, the joy of learning (and writing), inquiry-based, discovery-based education, teacher collaboration, intentional school design and what school could be. Zoe is Hawaii’s 2020 Charter School Teacher of the Year, but more than that, she is the embodiment of SEEQS’s mission and vision, which states: The diverse community of SEEQS fosters a joy of learning through collaborative and interdisciplinary investigation of questions essential to Hawaii’s future. SEEQS graduates will be stewards of planet Earth and healthy, effective citizens of the world. At SEEQS.org we learn: “Originally from Chile, Zoe Ingerson has always been surrounded by different cultures and languages. The 2019-2020 school year is her fourth year at SEEQS. Zoe received her BA at Whitman College in Anthropology, completing an undergraduate thesis on bilingual programs in her community. Zoe earned her Master of Arts in Education at Stanford University where she also received her multiple subject teaching credential and bilingual endorsement. She believes that all students are writers and have their own stories to tell. Zoe joined the SEEQS community in 2016, and is excited to continue writing and reading alongside her students. Zoe was recently selected as Hawai‘i’s 2020 Charter School Teacher of the Year!” If you like or love this episode, please give us a rating in Apple Podcasts, or your fav podcast store.
Lori Kwee has been changing the lives of kids for more than 30 years, and for that the State of Hawaiʻi and a legion of parents surely are very grateful. After listening to this episode, you will find it easy to imagine what it’s like being at Ala Wai Elementary in the presence of this mentor, guide and sponsor of young children. You will find it easy to imagine her kids saving the Vaquita dolphin, developing a school culture that nurtures bullies towards kindness and compassion, and diving deep into the essential questions of life and learning. One of the reasons Lori can do what she does is the support of her visionary Principal, Michelle DeBusca. Situated in central Honolulu, Ala Wai Elementary is leading the way as Hawaiʻi becomes a model to the world of innovation and creativity in education. In a personal statement Lori writes: “I have 30 years of successful teaching in the elementary public school levelI am actively involved in leadership and collaboratively working with others to enhance students’ achievement and success. In 2018-2019, I was honored with the National Life’s Life Changer of the Year Grand Prize Finalist award for work on Bully Prevention through kindness, love, compassion, forgiveness, and strategies to manage emotions. I strongly believe in empowering leaders to find their voices with self-confidence and passion. Building relationships and partnerships with students, families, colleagues, staff, and community members are priorities that I value. I am skilled in teaching reading, writing, project-based learning with student-led inquiry, and yoga. Currently, I teach yoga to students and faculty/teachers at Ala Wai School. Social emotional learning is important to me so I incorporate aspects of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management into my lessons, presentations, and lifestyle. My students and I have a business to share aloha and kindness: We sell #ShareAloha T-shirts and Jars of Aloha. The profits go to our Ala Wai School “Peaceful Oasis” for everyone to thrive with peace and gratitude.” To learn more about Ala Wai Elementary, click here.
The first thing that jumps out at you when Chris Stapleton speaks is how passionate he is: About school, about life, about cultural context, about education technology and about what happens when kids from Korea come to study in Hawaiʻi (and vice versa). In this new format for Season 1, Semester 2, which I am calling “Ten Questions For,” Chris defined the role of international schools, tackled the big issues of our New Pacific Century, zeroed in on what makes for great education technology, and raised objections to using the word “project” so much. Oh, and he took on a half-dozen other questions as well. His voice is clear and his responses thoughtful. I am thrilled that he is emerging as one of Hawaii’s education leaders. From the Asia Pacific International School’s website, we learn: “Mr. Stapleton graduated from Wheaton College with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Before attending Wheaton College, Mr. Stapleton grew up in a missionary home in the Philippines where he anchored his faith in Jesus Christ. After graduating he received teaching licenses in Illinois and Colorado. After moving to Colorado to teach 6th grade, Mr. Stapleton furthered his education at the University of Colorado. At the university, he studied curriculum and instruction as well as technology, and he graduated with his master’s degree after two years. Mr. Stapleton taught sixth grade for two years and fifth grade for two years. Since graduating from the University of Colorado, Mr. Stapleton was invited to become a part of their faculty. He has taught educational technology classes at the university as an adjunct professor. Mr. Stapleton has been an assistant coach to girls’ varsity volleyball and boys’ club volleyball for four years. In addition, he founded a media club, which has allowed students to practice logo design, animation, audio recording, and movie-making. Mr. Stapleton believes that student engagement and attentiveness are vital for a successful education. He enjoys fusing technology with education to achieve greater engagement. Mr. Stapleton and his wife love to travel, play games, and build community.”
It’s not often one gets to talk to a brilliant scientist about college admissions and Paul Tough’s book “The Years That Matter Most,” Ken Jennings vs. an artificial intelligence, an internship at Google vs. a Harvard undergraduate degree, Stanford University’s wondrous document “Uncharted Territory,” and the incredible insights of excellent indigenous science. Even better is the fact that I caught all of this conversation on tape and can present it here in this podcast. Dr. Helen Turner is the VP for Strategy and Innovation at Chaminade University, a small, private college sitting on a lovely hillside above the city of Honolulu. Her resume is 14 pages long; she is a brilliant thinker and articulate spokesperson for things in K-12 and higher education we should all be excited about. (And in a couple cases, such as CRISPR being driven “underground,” very concerned about.) She has a strong bias towards action and innovation. Over a 90-minute interview, which will be released in two parts, Helen and I dug deep into what I called Ten Questions With Helen Turner. Yes, in couple cases we cheated by adding in bonus questions! This recording was done in a special dual-person soundproof phone booth at the Entrepreneurs Sandbox, managed by the one and only BoxJelly Co-Working team. So enjoy, and please give us a rating in your favorite podcast store! From Chaminade.edu we learn: “Dr. Turner is an internationally-regarded researcher in molecular immunology. As well as her position at Chaminade, she holds academic affiliations with the John A. Burns School of Medicine and Department of Microbiology at the University of Hawaii and serves on numerous scientific advisory boards. She collaborates with an extensive network of scientists nation-wide and has trained numerous graduate students for careers as biomedical investigators, science administrators and academics. Previous to her Chaminade appointment, she was an Associate Director of Research at The Queen’s Center for Biomedical Research in Honolulu. Current projects in the Turner laboratory focus on mast cell ion channels as novel targets for therapeutic intervention in inflammatory pathologies, and on the molecular mechanisms by which cannabinoid compounds act as modulators of the immune system. Dr Turner’s relatively young laboratory has been strikingly successful at winning grants from private foundations (The Leahi Fund for Pulmonary Research, The Victoria and Bradley Geist Foundation, The Culpeper Biomedical Pilot Initiative, and the Queen Emma Research Foundation), and from Federal sources (National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institute of Allergic and Inflammatory Disease, and the Idea Network for Biomedical Research Excellence). In addition to her efforts in seeking funding for her own program, Dr. Turner acts as an invited grant reviewer for the NIH, the British Welcome Trust, and several other funding bodies. Dr. Turner trained at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories and received her Ph.D. from the University of London in 1998. Following a post-doctoral period at the Beth Israel Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, she assumed her position at Queens in 2000. While at Queens, Dr. Turner was head of a team of 10 scientists, whose efforts centered around the biology of mast cells. These immunocytes are central to inflammatory responses and are key players in pathologies such as asthma, eczema and multiple sclerosis.” For more on Dr. Turner’s work, go to Chaminade’s website.
It’s not often one gets to talk to a brilliant scientist about artificial intelligence, college admissions, David Epstein’s book, “Range,” the scary questions of biology and the incredible insights of excellent indigenous science. Even better is the fact that I caught all of this conversation on tape and can present it here in this podcast. Dr. Helen Turner is the VP for Strategy and Innovation at Chaminade University, a small, private college sitting on a lovely hillside above the city of Honolulu. Her resume is 14 pages long; she is a brilliant thinker and articulate spokesperson for things in K-12 and higher education we should all be excited about. (And in a couple cases, such as CRISPR being driven “underground,” very concerned about.) She has a strong bias towards action and innovation. Over a 90-minute interview, which will be released in two parts, Helen and I dug deep into what I called Ten Questions With Helen Turner. Yes, in couple cases we cheated by adding in bonus questions! This recording was done in a special dual-person soundproof phone booth at the Entrepreneurs Sandbox, managed by the one and only BoxJelly Co-Working team. So enjoy, and please give us a rating in your favorite podcast store! From Chaminade.edu we learn: “Dr. Turner is an internationally-regarded researcher in molecular immunology. As well as her position at Chaminade, she holds academic affiliations with the John A. Burns School of Medicine and Department of Microbiology at the University of Hawaii and serves on numerous scientific advisory boards. She collaborates with an extensive network of scientists nation-wide and has trained numerous graduate students for careers as biomedical investigators, science administrators and academics. Previous to her Chaminade appointment, she was an Associate Director of Research at The Queen’s Center for Biomedical Research in Honolulu. Current projects in the Turner laboratory focus on mast cell ion channels as novel targets for therapeutic intervention in inflammatory pathologies, and on the molecular mechanisms by which cannabinoid compounds act as modulators of the immune system. Dr Turner’s relatively young laboratory has been strikingly successful at winning grants from private foundations (The Leahi Fund for Pulmonary Research, The Victoria and Bradley Geist Foundation, The Culpeper Biomedical Pilot Initiative, and the Queen Emma Research Foundation), and from Federal sources (National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institute of Allergic and Inflammatory Disease, and the Idea Network for Biomedical Research Excellence). In addition to her efforts in seeking funding for her own program, Dr. Turner acts as an invited grant reviewer for the NIH, the British Welcome Trust, and several other funding bodies. Dr. Turner trained at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories and received her Ph.D. from the University of London in 1998. Following a post-doctoral period at the Beth Israel Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, she assumed her position at Queens in 2000. While at Queens, Dr. Turner was head of a team of 10 scientists, whose efforts centered around the biology of mast cells. These immunocytes are central to inflammatory responses and are key players in pathologies such as asthma, eczema and multiple sclerosis.” For more on Dr. Turner’s work, go to Chaminade’s website.
What’s the best thing I can offer educators and community members as we start the New Year 2020? The unmistakably clear voices of two remarkable students at the very beginning of their life-long learning journeys. In this episode, meet Phoenix Maimiti Valentine and Dayevin Bunao; both are student advocates-in-training with HawaiiKidsCAN, an innovative nonprofit that seeks to help students dive deep into the legislative process…that they might help shape the future of Hawaiʻi and level the playing field for everyone in this state. Phoenix and Dayevin are both graduates of Nalukai Academy, one of Planet Earth’s most innovative product-based summer camp programs. Phoenix describes herself as a “ʻŌiwi student filmmaker and creative, an optimist, a Home Schooler and HawaiiKidsCAN We Are Voices of Excellence (WAVE) alumni: My student short films are culturally based and have been screened in international film festivals around the world including Hawaiʻi, Seattle, Washington, abroad in Italy, Greece, Brazil, Slovenia, Czech Republic, the Russian Federation and London.” Dayevin thoughtfully notes, “I am a recent high school graduate who is finding my way with internships and volunteer opportunities. I am taking a gap year to learn more about my passions and how I can contribute to the education innovation space. I am an intern at Education Incubator, and volunteer with HawaiiKidsCAN on special projects and WAVE as an Alumni Facilitator. Together, these two special people are the hope of a generation, seeds growing into strong trees capable of wisely withstanding the high winds of our “Age of Acceleration,” a term coined by the New York Times Tom Friedman. Along the way, they are guided, mentored, coached and sponsored by David Miyashiro, the Executive Director of HawaiiKidsCAN, his understudy, Aisha Heredia, and a host of community members who care deeply about kids. So give a listen, and comment if you have time! To learn more about HawaiiKidsCAN, click on this link. If you love this podcast, please give us a rating in Apple Podcasts.
I taught Amber Strong her Advanced Placed United States History 25 years ago. Recently, we came onto each other’s radar again and began working on some projects related to educator professional development. As we do this work, I continue to reflect how many kids’ lives have been impact by Amber’s work over the past two decades. The number has to be enormous, and is beyond staggering. Equally amazing has to be her impact on young educators getting advanced degrees and teacher certifications at the University of Hawaiʻi, College of Education, where she serves as a faculty member. And in 2019, a new chapter began: Amber is now the Director of Hanahau’oli School’s Professional Development Center, which is offering intimate and targeted PD around teaching social justice, climate change, art, equity and much, much more. (My father attended the 2nd grade at Hanahau’oli, back in 1920.) So it is with great pleasure that I give to you, esteemed listener, this “on the road” episode. Amber has much to say, and it is all worthy of your attention. From the UH Manoa website we get: “Dr. Amber Strong Makaiau is currently the Director of Curriculum and Research at the University of Hawai‘i Uehiro Academy for Philosophy and Ethics in Education. For over ten years, she taught secondary social studies in the Hawaii State Department of Education. Her achievements include, National Board Certification in 2006, the Hawaii International Education Week – Honolulu Advertiser 2004 Outstanding Global Educator Award, the Oceanic Outstanding Educator Award in 2005, and the 2011 Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Culturally Responsive Teaching. Her current projects include a brand new secondary level Philosophical Inquiry course, developing the emerging field of deliberative pedagogy, and a new approach to research ethics education. Dr. Makaiau enjoys speaking, writing, engaging in intellectually safe communities of inquiry, and advocating for the betterment of education in Hawaii and beyond.” To learn more about Hanahau’oli School and its Professional Development Center, click here.
As soon as I walked on Stacie Kunihisa’s campus I knew something different was happening. Two student ambassadors guided me on a tour of classrooms and project spaces, and spoke to me at length about how campus culture had changed as a result of a “movement” called Choose Love. Both felt that kids were related to each other in ways not seen before. Kanoelani Elementary is a carnival of interesting ideas and concepts in motion. I saw a full hydroponics garden next to one building, and heard about a series of “academy pathways” based on student inputs. Everywhere my ambassadors took me people seemed to be moving with great intent. Learning…is clearly front and center at this school. At the helm is a self-described “dreamer,” Principal Stacie Kunihisa, who grew up and went to school just down the road. In 2019 Stacie and Kanoelani Elementary hosted a Jessie Lewis Choose Love Movement conference on campus. Its 400 seats sold out in less than two weeks. Clearly there is a growing thirst for SEL training and ideas about how to grow more compassionate public, private and charter school cultures in Hawaiʻi. So what Stacie has to say about her journey, with her faculty, staff, students and parents, is important. She is a leader we can learn from. From Kanoelani’s website we learn the school is an “innovative community of leaders, risk takers and warm-hearted citizens who empower the best in each other. We the community of Kanoelani, strive to: Foster the growth of developing the whole child: Collaborate to set and achieve goals: Provide a dynamic environment to maximize students’ potential: Promote empathy and respect towards others.” Stacie was recently named 2019 Hawaiʻi National Distinguished Principal. She also received the $25,000 Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award, which annually recognizes outstanding public school principals in Hawaiʻi for their efforts to provide high-quality learning opportunities for their students. To learn more about Stacie’s work, and what school could be, read her blog. Merry Christmas, podcast fans!
When I first heard Dan Kinzer planned to walk the entire circumference of Oʻahu in order to find its “genius,” I immediately concluded I had to have him on this podcast. Even better, for this 7th “on the road” edition I wanted to catch him on the last day of his two-week walkabout. And so it happened. About 9:00AM on a Monday, as he walked his final miles along Kalanianaʻoli Highway in the morning Hawaiʻi sun, Dan, a cup of coffee in hand, paused in my dinning room and fielded my many questions. We talked about planet walking, exploring Antartica, his projects at international schools around the world and his love of deeper learning. Oh yes, we talked about the “genius” he found in every corner of this island of Oʻahu during 21 days of walking. Dan is a special thinker whose mind knows no limits. He is deeply devoted to justice, level playing fields, sustainability, service-learning, biomimicry and student agency. While standing up his Pacific Blue Studios, he serves on the Governing Board of an extraordinary public charter school called SEEQS. From SEEQS.org we get this wonderfully concise bio of Dan: “An avid traveler and adventurer, Daniel Kinzer spent a decade living, working, and learning in international schools, non-profits, and social enterprises across more than 60 countries on seven continents. Since graduating from Vanderbilt University with a degree in Psychology and Neuroscience, he has focused on nurturing explorers and change-makers by growing a learning ecosystem that can inspire and empower them. From 2016-2019, Daniel served as the Director of the Luke Center for Public Service at Punahou School in Honolulu, and as a Teacher Fellow for National Geographic and Ecology Project International. He is currently completing a master’s degree in the field of biomimicry where he’s concentrated on marine ecology and innovative solutions to climate change and ocean-related challenges, as well as applying biomimicry to complex social issues, especially reimagining education. As of 2019, Daniel is launching and co-creating Pacific Blue Studios: a Pacific network of community and place-based, youth-led, design and impact studios leveraging biomimicry, indigenous perspective and cutting-edge technologies as vehicles to help realize a sustainable, resilient, regenerative and inclusive future in Hawai’i, across the Pacific, and around our Blue Planet.” To learn more about Pacific Blue Studios check out Dan’s LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielkinzer/.
In this last episode of Season 1, Semester 1, Trish Morgan takes our listeners on a magical mystery tour of her Innovative Invention Imaginarium, a maker space and technology laboratory built with a sizable award from Farmer’s Insurance, and with the helping hands of her middle school students at Honolulu’s Stevenson Intermediate. It is not in Trish’s DNA to see limits; she apparently fears nothing and sees each waking minute in and out of school as another opportunity to guide, coach and mentor young people towards the better angels of their nature. Her kids are making many things: Most notably, at least this year, they are making prosthetic and accessibility devices for real clients. Yes, fingers for a classmate born without them: A bionic hand for a school alum who fell victim to nectrotizing faciitis (flesh-eating bacteria): A wearable, all-purpose sensor for a young woman who lost her sight. And much, much more. Trish, in her resume, describes herself as an “Innovative, hands-on, and compassionate educator, offering fourteen years of experience in teaching, counseling, professional development, and teacher leadership. Highly qualified English Language Learner (ELL) and Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) teacher, with proven expertise in leading students toward academic and personal excellence. Equipped with outstanding ability to make learning accessible to all students through differentiated teaching strategies, positive encouragement, and individualized support.” In terms of awards and grants, we know this about Trish: 100K Farmers Insurance Dream Big Teachers Challenge National Grant: 2017, Lex Brodie’s Above and Beyond Award: 2019, Hawaiʻi Society for Technology in Education, Making It Happen Award: State of California $10K Best Buy Teach Grant. Trish is from California, where she got her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from California State University in Hayward (she graduated cum laude). To learn more about her Imaginarium, Google Trish Morgan; she has been in the news – TV and print – in Hawaiʻi, a lot.
Paul Singer has strong opinions about education, but he comes by them honestly. He spent nearly 30 years as Head at The Country School in Los Angeles, then another 11 as Head at Assets School in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. His experiences in school at a very young age still shape the way he sees the world, and teaching and learning. Paul has been one of Hawaii’s most vocal advocates for individualized, differentiated “meet students where they are” instruction. His life experiences shape the way he thinks kids, the real world and “school” could and should intersect. Now retired from active duty as a head of school, Paul has formed Singer and Associates LLC, which will serve as a progressive education consultancy platform. He also serves as President of the Board of Directors of the Hawaiʻi Association of Independent Schools. From Assets-School.org we hear: “Under Singer’s leadership, Assets acquired the land rights to the school’s campus near the airport and negotiated a merger with the Academy of the Pacific to acquire their Alewa Heights campus, which now houses the Assets High School. He launched the school’s first major capital campaign in decades, already resulting in a new K-4 Village and plans for subsequent efforts on both campuses. His commitment to meeting students where they are also resulted in new after- school and summer programs as well as outreach across the state, sharing Assets’ techniques and strategies with teachers from public and private schools….Singer’s retirement marks the end of a distinguished career as a gifted, progressive educator who has long championed meeting students where they are — academically, developmentally, socially, and emotionally.” Paul served on the faculty at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) for 30 years; he taught in the College of Education Teacher Training Program; he served for 10 years on the Dean’s Advisory Council. He served on accreditation committees for the California Association of Independent Schools for 15 years, serving as Chair for many of those years. He holds a B.A. in Sociology, an M.A. in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education, and an M.A. in Educational Administration and Supervision from CSUN. He has also completed doctoral coursework in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Southern California. [Episode music from https://filmmusic.io “I Can Feel it Coming” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).]
I first met Sandy Cameli during a facilitated protocol discussion on synchronous, vs. asynchronous professional development. Her passion for education filled the conference room with energy and spirit. Since then I have witnessed her, many times, facilitating sessions on teacher-leadership; I always come away inspired. In this episode Sandy and I dive deep into professional crushes (on noted education authors), tri-level professional growth, identity of leadership, those special kids we remember always, and how teacher-leadership shifts school culture towards student voice, teacher collaboration and intentional school design. Oh yes, we also talk about how happy days keep the grouchies away! Sandy Cameli got her Bachelor of Arts Degree (BA) in Elementary Education at Linfield College in Oregon. She has a Master’s of Education Degree (MEd) in Special Education from the University of San Diego, and a Doctor of Education Degree (EdD) Instructional Leadership from Argosy University in Honolulu. She has been a classroom teacher, lecturer, resource teacher, teacher-leader and much more. She is the Co-Owner of “The Chalkboard,” a retail and tutoring center in Kailua Kona, Hawaiʻi, supporting teachers and students in K-8th classrooms in West Hawai’i schools. Today, she is the Facilitator of Na Kumu Alaka’i Academy, a program of the Hawaiʻi Department of Education Leadership Institute. She is also the current President of the Hawai’i Association of Middle Level Education (HAMLE), and has been published widely. I am forever grateful to Sandy for being such a steadfast supporter of the @MLTSinHawaii “movement.” To learn more about teacher-leadership in Hawaii’s schools, go to https://vimeo.com/362658356. Follow Sandy on Twitter at @DrCameli and @TLA808.
Kristie Fetterly knows first hand how an innovative, imaginative, creative, caring, empathetic teacher bucking the traditional in education can change a young person’s life. Back in the day, a certain Mr. Bergh played that role when Kristie started her senior year in high school. Today, as the Site Director for Hawaiʻi Technology Academy’s Maui Campus (HTA), she is bravely and boldly leading her school community into a bright future full of possibilities and great promises. A member of the 2nd cohort of the Hawaiʻi Innovative Leaders Network, facilitated by PBLWorks, Kristie has her eye firmly fixed on what makes young people most likely to succeed, and what school could be locally, nationally and globally. HTA uses a blended learning model, which grants agency to kids to work on things that matter and are relevant to their lives, individually and collectively. Kristie has a Bachelors in Secondary Education from Pacific Lutheran University: a Masters in Education from University of Washington, Tacoma: an Educational Specialist Degree from Walden University, Baltimore, Maryland: she is working on an Advanced Educational Leadership Certification from Harvard University. Shannon Stanton, Instructional Design, Kent School District, who knows Kristie said the following: From the beginning, it has been apparent that Kristie’s strengths as an educator are more than a list of what she has accomplished. It is how she approaches her work that matters. Kristie is an advocate for teachers as leaders and learners. To learn more about Hawaiʻi Technology Academy, go to https://hi.myhta.org.
Cecilia Chung, otherwise known as CC, is Hawaiʻi’s 2020, State Department of Education, Teacher of the Year. In this 5th on the road episode, CC and I dive deep into her thoughts on Ted Dintersmith’s film, Most Likely to Succeed, her remarkable education journey, how she became an EdTech Jedi coach, her views on student data, student voice, teacher collaboration and celebration, intentional school design, and the meaning of her selection as our teacher of the year. CC currently teaches and learns with an awesome group of sixth graders at Kaimiloa Elementary School in Ewa Beach, Hawaiʻi. She has also worked as a technology integration coach for grades K-6. She is a proponent of student voice and agency for (all) students and loves dialoguing about this topic with others. CC is passionate about working with other educators; she leads and facilitates a variety of workshops for and with the education community. An alumni of the Hope Street, Hawaii State Teacher Fellow program, she has facilitated education-related data collection and focus groups and worked as one of the planning leads for a complex wide teacher conference called Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching (ECET2). CC is a strong believer in the importance of elevating and celebrating teachers, encouraging teachers to tell their stories via platforms like Twitter and blog posts. She most recently wrote, “Teachers: You Could Be Anywhere Else,” published on Medium. She is President-Elect for the Hawaii Society for Technology in Education (HSTE). She has monitored and provided content for her school Twitter and Instagram handles. She is a self-proclaimed foodie, an accessible introvert and a bookworm! Her Twitter handle is @MSChung808. Oh yes, and she is my former student, now very special friend.
Doug Hiu IV is a young guy, but he has already lived quite a life. In this episode Doug shares his journey from tough childhood to extraordinary middle school teacher at Kamehameha Schools, Kapālama Campus on the island of Oahu in Hawaiʻi. Doug is an “all in” educator – his students go on quests, dig deep into essential questions and participate in epic exhibitions of knowledge. His teacher website is a garden of delights, an Alice in Wonderland of exclamation points and references to projects, challenges and problems his students tackle on a daily basis. Doug is also well versed in current literature authored by the world’s leading education lights. Born Douglas AhKop Hiu IV, he is of Hawaiian, Chinese, and Caucasian decent and the second oldest of three siblings. Doug grew up in Maunawili Valley on the wet and windy, Windward Side of Oahu; from 5th to 8th grade he attended six different public schools before landing at Kahuku Intermediate and High Schools, where he wrestled, played football and graduated in 2001. He earned his BA in sociology, and a masters in education from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa. Doug has four children with his wife, Tamzen. In addition to teaching, he coaches wrestling and practices in various combat sports. He is a graduate of the Keala’ula Institute for Strategy and Innovation, a tri-campus Kamehameha Schools initiative headed up by Dr. Evan Beachy, who has been featured on this podcast.
Kay Sturm is one of the most intentional people I have ever met. I knew this from observing her practice years ago when she taught at The School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability. It’s still true today as she works to stand up and make fly The Umi Project, whose vision is to bring people and ideas together through intentionally designed education. Listen as Kay and I work through deeper learning, essential question-based learning, communities of practice and much, much more. From Hawaii to Alaska, Kay has had a diverse array of experiences and roles in education. Kay received her Doctorate of Education from the University of Southern California; her dissertation focused on the “Facilitation of Authentic Teaching and Learning in a PBL Environment.” She is an adjunct faculty professor for the University of Southern California, Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program, and works as the lead education consultant with clients partnered with The Umi Project. She is also a National Faculty member for the national organization, PBLWorks, under the Buck Institute for Education, and facilitates PBL101 workshops around the country. In 2016, she was named Charter School Teacher of the Year in the State of Hawaiʻi. Kay started as a special education teacher at Waianae High School on the island of Oahu. She has worked at both the middle and high school level in the classroom and at the leadership level, as an instructional coach and coordinator for student-focused experiences. She is passionate about teaching content through the lens of sustainability, project-based learning and place-based education. Kay now lives in Alaska, but travels extensively, and intentionally. Learn more about The Umi Project at https://www.theumiproject.com.
Robert Landau has served in almost every capacity imaginable, in schools and public, private and charter education at large. He describes himself as a futurist, but in truth, he is a wizard at “school renovations.” What is a “school renovation,” you ask? Listen to this on the road episode to find out. More than anything, Robert loves his students of all ages, a fact evident when visiting him at Maui Preparatory Academy, where he is Head of School. As recently as 2017, he was the executive director of the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, an organization that preserves and strengthens private school education in Hawaii. Subsequently, he started his own education consulting business, “Two Roads Education.” Robert worked with not only private schools but also charter schools and the state Department of Education. Prior to that, he lived and worked abroad for more than 40 years in countries such as Switzerland, Indonesia, the Czech Republic, China, Cambodia and Singapore. He was a teacher and administrator in a variety of international schools, which were English-medium schools for students representing an average of 60 nationalities from the business, diplomatic, entrepreneurial and private sectors. The schools he worked at ranged from 45 to 4,000 students. He also helped start the first international charter school in the United States in Monterey, California.
PBLWorks and Kupu Hou Academy (a program out of Mid-Pacific Institute, a medium sized private school on Oahu in Hawaiʻi) are two of the best known project-based, inquiry-based, challenge-based, essential question-based, place-based, culture-based, multiple intelligences-based, teaching and learning PD programs in Hawaiʻi. Leading those programs are Mark Hines, Leigh Fitzgerald and Lisa Mireles. Combined, the deeper learning knowledge of these three individuals is simply staggering. Listen as I dig deep into philosophies of education and best professional development practices with people who are all about the kids. And I do mean all. Currently a Director of District and School Leadership for PBLWorks, Lisa Mireles works with school leaders and complex areas across the state of Hawaii who want to transform student learning experiences using project based learning as the primary lever. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science/International Relations and a Master’s in Education from the UCLA along with a doctorate in Learning Technologies from Pepperdine University. Mark Hines is the Director of Kupu Hou Academy (KHA), which develops and implements programs for teachers and leaders with a focus on Deeper Learning practices. KHA focuses on progressive and research based instructional, assessment and leadership practices including PBL, Inquiry and Deeper Learning. Mark was the the Director of Mid-Pacific eXploratory (MPX) and the Academic Technology Chair at Mid-Pacific Institute. MPX is a grade 9 and 10 program that focuses on integrated, community project-based learning. Students build authentic projects and work on community issues while integrating math, science, technology, language arts, social studies and the arts. In all, he has taught science, math and been involved with technology planning for 38 years. In 2019 Mid-Pacific Institute welcomed a new Vice President of Academic Affairs, Leigh Fitzgerald. She joined Mid-Pacific with 15 years of experience in teaching and educational administration rooted in deeper learning practices. Fitzgerald was most recently executive director of the largest charter school in the state, Hawaii Technology Academy. Prior to leading the school, she was a teacher at Lahainaluna High School and later teacher and principal at Maui Preparatory Academy. Leigh grew up in Cape Cod, MA, and graduated from Brown University (Education and American Civilization) and Harvard University (Education Administration, Planning and Social Policy). To learn more about these programs go to www.midpac.edu and pblworks.org.
I intended at the outset of launching the What School Could Be in Hawaiʻi podcast that this would be a highly collaborative effort. To that end, I pitched to the Kona-based, Hawai’i Department of Education, Kealakehe Intermediate School (public) Hawk Media Program that they would be our podcast post production team. It took them all of five minutes to say yes. In the days, weeks and months since we recorded the first batch of interviews, and then the second batch, my relationship with this team of middle school students (and a couple that have graduated to high school but continue to work in this middle school program), all committed to editing each episode to perfection, has grown and deepened. It has been such a pleasure to get to know – through group texts and emails, and in person – the project manager, Mei Kanada, an 8th grader who loves media and taking care of animals. Likewise, what a thrill to watch young Marlon Utrera, a 7th grader, as he worked to design the cadence and rhythm of the last two episodes, with Susannah Johnson and Zach Morita. It gives me goosebumps listening to Marlon and young Bailey Vierthaler voice episode intros and credits. And the guide-on-the-side, the mentor, the coach, Hawk Media program director, Mathieu Williams? Now I know why he was named our Department of Education, teacher-of-the-year for 2019. The What School Could Be in Hawaiʻi podcast is conversations with innovative, creative, imaginative educators and education leaders who know #whatschoolcouldbe…everywhere. Find the series at MLTSinHawaii.com, Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Stitcher and Spotify. Episodes release every Monday morning.
If I were to line up all the people I know who understand individualized learning, Susannah Johnson stands at the front…by a lot. After a career in business she moved to the classroom; the lives of kids have been impacted ever since. She is the kind of teacher (meaning guide-on-the side, sponsor, coach, mentor) I would have thrived with when I was in school 40 years ago. After 12 years in business (fitness management positions and exercise instruction), and years in the classroom at Assets School in Honolulu, she recently formed her own consultancy, called Individualized Realized, LLC. Susannah now works with public, private and charter schools on several continents to help educators and education leaders realize student-driven learning. She has a Master of Education degree in Instructional Leadership from Chaminade University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Southern Illinois University. She is a frequent Schools of the Future conference presenter: “The Chaotic Classroom” in 2012, “Unlocking the Exceptional Mind” in 2014, “Individualized Realized” and “Critical Thinking through Individualized Learning” in 2016, and “But Hawaii is Already Diverse” in 2018. To learn more about her work, go to www.individualizedrealized.com.
Alex Teece and his team worked for three years to turn DreamHouse Academy (located in West Oahu) from an idea into a reality. Listen as Alex and I explore how he and his partners designed and developed a public charter school focused on the fusion of identity, leadership, place, culture and student agency. The Hawaiʻi Public Charter School Commission rejected Alex’s first application. Undaunted, the DreamHouse team went back to the drawing board, revamped their academic and financial plans and built community support. Today, 100 students are six weeks into the first year of this innovative, imaginative, creative school. Alex brings educational leadership, finance, fundraising, and teaching experience to DreamHouse, and is currently a full-time doctoral student at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He enjoys spending time outdoors with his black lab puppy and traveling with his wife to experience new foods, cultures, and places.
Zach Morita takes a very real world, very experiential and progressive approach to music education at Niu Valley Middle School on the east side of Oahu in Hawaiʻi. His students commission musical scores from local artists, compete in Olympic events, collaborate with local chamber music ensembles and much, much more. Listen as Zach and I explore the DNA of music appreciation and exploration, his approach to project-based learning and portfolio assessments, and why his philosophy of teaching and learning music, and life moved me emotionally. Zach is in his 12th year as a music teacher at Niu Valley Middle School. He is a recent winner of the 2018 Farmers Insurance $100,000 Dream Big Teacher Challenge. Zachary has taken student performance groups to New York, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Texas. In the summer of 2019, the Niu Valley Middle School Concert Band performed at the Australian International Music Festival in the Sydney Opera House. He has conducted and directed student groups at the 2017 New York Wind Band Festival in Carnegie Hall, the 2016 National Conference on Percussion Pedagogy, the 2014 American School Band Directors Association Conference, and the 2012 Winter Guard International Percussion World Championships. Active in the Hawaii music community, Zach is past Treasurer and ongoing Solo/Ensemble Chairperson for the Oahu Band Directors Association, Associate Music Director of the Honolulu Wind Ensemble, and President/Founder of the Hawaii Youth Percussion Ensemble. Zachary is sponsored by Zildjian Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks & Mallets, Grover Pro Percussion, and Pearl/Adams Musical Instruments. This is quite a resume for someone just getting started in his teaching career. Send feedback to me, your host, Josh Reppun at MLTSinHawaii@gmail.com.
Luke Ritchie is the Head of School at the Annesley Junior School – tagline: Heritage, Values, Innovation – in Adelaide, Australia (population 1.4 million). Annesley was a school on the brink of collapse not long ago. In this On the Road episode Luke and I talk about how he and his staff, his faculty, his parents and his students transformed Annesley into one of the fastest growing schools in the region. The backdrop of our conversation is the 2019 Leading Schools of the Future pre-workshop for the 2019 Schools of the Future Conference. Luke came to Hawaiʻi to participate as a “leader-mentor” at this pre-conference workshop (attended by 140 public, private and charter leaders) focused on deeper learning and assessments. Listen as Luke outlines the steps he and his community took to redesign and rebuild Annesley into a school focused on student-centered learning, faculty leading as professionals and diverse learning environments. Along the way, hear about the “Crunchy Cafe,” nature hikes with mathematicians and other wonders of student focused school culture. At some point a Myna Bird screams at us. We recorded this episode outside at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center! After Luke and I finished recording, I told him I wanted to attend elementary school again at Annesley.
In this first On The Road episode of the What School Could Be in Hawaiʻi podcast, you will hear a wide ranging conversation about grades, transcripts, rubrics, assessments and topics related to knowing and measuring student learning. Dr. Evan Reppun Beachy is Senior Education Consultant and Director of the Kealaʻula Innovations Institute at Kamehameha Schools (KSBE) in Hawaiʻi. KSBE has three campuses on three islands and serves over 7000 students of Native Hawaiian ancestry. Full disclosure: Evan is both my nephew and one of my mentors. He attended Punahou School, graduated from Harvard University with a BA in Social Anthropology and a Teaching Credential from the Graduate School of Education. Evan has taught in international, private, charter, and public schools in Costa Rica, Hawaii, and California. He attended UCLA to complete his doctorate in Educational Leadership – which emphasized private independent schools – in 2004. Evan has served as an Adjunct Professor in USC’s MAT program bookending teaching experience in a variety of subjects across all K-12 divisions. For the last seven years Evan has worked as Middle School Director and K-12 Dean of Faculty at Crossroads and New Roads schools. His current interests include curricular design and teaching methods, brain research, the incorporation of technology in modern classrooms, modern classroom design, and values based education.
Kui Gapero loves working with middle school students. It’s safe to say they are his passion. He finds their quirks difficult sometimes, but in the end, they reward and nuture him with their eagerness to learn. An innovative, creative, imaginative educator at the Kamehameha Schools, Maui Middle School, his work primarily focuses on teaching Hawaiian language and Hawaiian Studies. Outside the KSBE Maui campus, Kui is a volunteer with community organizations and participates in a variety of Hawaiian cultural practices.
In truth, Kui sees no line between “school” and “community.” Both are richly cultural places of learning. Born on the island of Maui, he attended public school there until boarding at the Kamehameha Schools Kapalama Campus on Oahu for middle and high school. He earned his B.A. in Hawaiian Language after he took a “short-vacation” to Iraq as an infantryman with the Hawaii Army National Guard. He then taught at Kamehameha Schools Kapalama, worked as a Cultural Program Specialist with the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission, lectured at the University of Hawaii at Maui College, then settled into his current position as a middle school educator at Kamehameha Schools Maui.
Listen as Kui describes his strengths, weaknesses, his love of learning, his interest in non traditional assessments and his absolute love of learning. Along the way, you will hear him laugh…a lot.
As a kid, Katina Soares attended Molokai’s Kaunakakai Elementary, Molokai Middle and Molokai High School. She has an associate’s degree from the University of Hawai’i, Maui College, a bachelor’s degree from Judson College, a master’s degree from Liberty University and a PhD in education leadership from Walden University. She is a School Retool Fellow and a member of the Hawaiʻi Innovative Leaders Network. She has been a child care provider, a college academic advisor, a public school counselor and both a public and charter school vice-principal.
Two years ago, in 2017, she fulfilled a life-long dream when she was appointed Principal at Molokai High School, which is in the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education’s “Canoe Complex.” (This complex includes schools on Maui, Lanai and Molokai.) Katina is a strong advocate and supporter for education innovation, creativity and imagination on her campus. She is also a great fan of Ted Dintersmith’s film, “Most Likely to Succeed” and his book, “What School Could Be,” employing both effectively to transform her community. She is using Ted’s InnovationPlaylist.org to help infuse her faculty, staff and students with a micro-innovation theory of change.
She has written: “I truly believe, when delivered effectively, education can give each generation, not only knowledge and skills, but the passion and power to become positive agents of change in their local and global community.”
This episode was edited by Mei Kanada, an 8th grader in the Kealakehe Intermediate, Hawk Media program on Hawaiʻi Island.
Listen to this episode and you will clearly see that Melissa Speetjens is public school proud. The Principal at Waimea Canyon Middle School on the island of Kauai (the westernmost middle school in the United States), Melissa and her faculty have implemented a dynamic program called “20% Time,” where 6th, 7th and 8th graders spend 20% of every school day working on complicated and complex global issues. Students self-select into themes such as peace and justice, or ocean sustainability; they train in design thinking; they immerse themselves, with their teacher guides and coaches, into project-based learning; they prepare for public exhibitions of learning (called student showcases); and, they put the needs of family and community front and center.
Melissa is a mentor in the Hawaiʻi Innovative Leaders Network, a graduate of the Stanford School Retool program and a recipient of one of the 2018/2019 Hawaiʻi Department of Education’s innovation grants. She also loves to quote John Dewey.
Please subscribe to this podcast! And don’t forget to give us a rating and leave a review. There will be a new episode every Monday, September through November, 2019. Have an innovative guest in mind? Send information to MLTSinHawaii@gmail.com, or go to MLTSinHawaii.com.
This episode was edited by Mei Kanada, a middle school student in the Hawk Media program at Kealakehe Intermediate on Hawaiʻi Island.
Janice Ochola Blaber, born of parents from Western Samoa and Ecuador, started dreaming about being a teacher in the 1st grade. Today, after managing restaurants and bartending in New York City and Honolulu, getting a graduate degree from University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, holding various public and private school substitute teaching and ELA positions – and much more – she is the Principal at Keaʻau Elementary School on Hawaiʻi Island.
Listen as Janice and I talk about education innovation, creativity, imagination, Deeper Learning, her hopes and dreams for her Kea’au Elementary School and #WhatSchoolCouldBe. We record episodes for Season 1, Semester 1 and Semester 2 at Hālau ‘Īnana, a remarkable innovation space designed and built by Kamehameha Schools.
This episode was post-produced by Kealakehe Intermediate’s Hawk Media Productions, under the guidance of State Teacher of the Year, Mathieu Williams. Ryan Ozawa is our podcast development Jedi, marketing consultant and sound engineer. Subscribe to get episodes each Monday! For more about this series, go to MLTSinHawaii.com. Send us feedback at email@example.com.
This episode was edited by Mei Kanada, an 8th grader in the Hawk Media program at Kealakehe Intermediate.
Hey future fans of the What School Could Be in Hawaiʻi podcast series, we are now officially in the iTunes and Google Play Music stores. This is great news! My huge thanks to Will Reppun (my nephew), Co-Founder of Unrulr, for helping me navigate the semi-complicated process of applying to these platforms. Soon, as I navigate this steep, steep learning curve, we will be on Spotify and other podcasting platforms. Stay tuned, and follow us on Twitter @MLTSinHawaii and @joshreppun! If you share this on Twitter tag us with #WhatSchoolCouldBe and #MLTSFilm.
Hey, it’s Josh Reppun coming to you from Hālau ‘Īnana on Oahu. This is a beta test of our first What School Could Be in Hawaiʻi podcast series. Ryan Ozawa and I recorded this 15-minute conversation as a test of our systems. It’s a fun conversation about podcasting in general, and our purposes for developing this series. This podcast series is a partnership between Plexus Education, LLC (DBA @MLTSinHawaii), Ryan Ozawa @Hawaii, and the Kealakehe Middle School media team of students led by Director and our state teacher of the year, Mathieu Williams. Special thanks to Will Reppun, founder of Unrulr, for WordPress, Blubrry and podcast listing technical support. THE FIRST PODCAST EPISODES WILL BE AVAILABLE STARTING SEPTEMBER 2ND. NEW EPISODES WILL BE RELEASED EVERY MONDAY, SEPTEMBER – NOVEMBER.