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!