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.