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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.