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!