Russell Motter: Renaissance Man, Raconteur, Teacher and Mixologist Extraordinaire

It’s hard to rank all the things I love about Russell Motter – history teacher, lover of great music, epic thespian, good cook, creative innovator, Atlanta Braves and Falcons fan, among others – but the fact he mixes a mean Sazerac, my favorite cocktail, sits at the top of the list. Russell and I taught together in the history department at ‘Iolani School from 2010 to 2014. When I say taught together, I mean it literally. We team-taught US History, merging our two classes into one very cool section that at times traveled to the outer edges of innovation in education and what history could be. (To see a very cool video about our work, click here.) But I get ahead of myself. Russell has a BA and a masters in history from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He has been teaching in the history department at ‘Iolani School for 26 years, and was its department head from 2005 – 2013. Russell and I co-founded and co-directed the Education Innovation Lab at ‘Iolani School during the 2013/2014 school year. He has been a curriculum consultant for Punahou School’s PUEO program; he coordinated ‘Iolani’s capstone program for two years. Currently he is the course leader for ‘Iolani’s APUS history program. Russell has also taught at the college level here in Honolulu. If you ever have a chance to read Russell’s resume you will see that he has a miscellaneous projects section a mile long. Highlights include working on a team that brought technology to ‘Iolani’s campus in the form of a K12 iPad 1:1 program, the second school in Hawaii to do so. I also served on that team with Russell. It was a blast. More than anything, in my humble opinion, Russell’s work bringing incredible guest speakers to ‘Iolani School is a highlight. Speakers include Barbara Field, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, John Hope Franklin (a personal hero of mine), Wynton Marsalis and Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize Winning author of the incredible book, The Warmth of Other Suns. Oh, I almost forgot, Russell, originally from the Great State of Georgia, acts in local theater productions here in Honolulu, is a master mixologist and, in an earlier life, was a hotel bellman. To say he has lived a rich and intentional life is an understatement. My editor, creative consultant and sound engineer is the wondrously creative, Evan Kurohara (SØZEN), a self-taught audio engineer and producer born and raised in Hilo, Hawaiʻi.  He is currently working in Honolulu and aspiring to reach new heights by dedicating himself to exceptional quality work through creative and analytical meticulousness (his words!).  Our original theme music is provided by my friend of 40 years, virtuoso pianist, Michael Sloan. Michael has produced 12 albums with over 100 songs and is featured in Apple Music, Spotify, and all the other major music platforms. You can also find his work at his YouTube channel. He has listeners in over 100 countries and over 2000 cities, to date. Songs featured in this episode include, “A New Day,” “Oasis,” “Mysterious Dancer” and “Fuchsia.” There are two other clips of songs downloaded from a open source site: “Pass the Plate” and “On the Rocks.” Please support this podcast by providing a rating and review at your fav podcast app! The What School Could Be in Hawaiʻi podcast is funded by Ted Dintersmith and WhatSchoolCouldBe.org. Please stay safe, keep wearing your masks in crowded public spaces, and please get vaccinated. Until next time, mahalo, a hui hou!, and please be in good health. 

Theme music provided by Michael Sloan
Editing and creative consulting by Evan Kurohara