85. Rewilding Teaching and Learning, with Ayana Verdi

My guest today is Ayana Verdi. Ayana is an educational leader and mother of two who, with her husband John in 2016, established the Verdi Eco School to provide hands-on educational experiences for children in the historic Eau Gallie Arts District of Melbourne, Florida. The school quickly grew to become the first K-8 urban farm school in the southeastern United States and has now expanded to include high school learners. John Verdi is the founder of HeyBlue!, which works to build relationships between the police and the communities they serve. HeyBlue! is woven into the fabric of the Verdi Eco School. This episode was edited by the amazing, Evan Kurohara. Our theme music comes from the vast catalogue of pianist, Michael Sloan. This episode’s musical interlude song, not yet released, is titled “Inner Mission.” Please leave us a review and rating at your favorite podcast store. 

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84. Nothing Less Than Restoring Humanity to Learning, with Chris McNutt

In the About section of his amazing resume Chris McNutt, co-founder of the Human Restoration Project and a digital art and design educator from Columbus, Ohio wrote: “I’m obsessed with revolutionizing education to meet the needs of  students. Instead of standardized tests and rote learning, why not create equitable, authentic, and  relationship-centered experiences where students can flourish? Let students lead their educational  pursuits.” “Quiet” is the name of the musical interlude piece for this episode, composed and played by Michael Sloan.  My editor and audio consultant is the talented, Evan Kurohara. Please leave us a review and or rating in your favorite podcast store.

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83. Denise Karratti: Openness and Grace, Warmth and a Collaborative Spirit

“The best thing about Denise Karratti is not even all of the things she does, it is the way she does them-with complete openness, grace, warmth, and a collaborative spirit. Denise is grounded in our place and invested in all of the people who contribute to our communities. She is a connector and an innovator, and is going to be an incredible administrator in the near future.” (Kristen Brummel, Hawaiʻi State Teacher Fellows Coordinator) Crimson is the name of the musical interlude piece for this episode, composed and played by Michael Sloan. My editor is the talented, Evan Kurohara. Please leave us a review and or rating in your favorite podcast store. 

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82. For Chad Carlson, It Starts With One Stone

My guest today is Chad Carlson, the Director of Research and Design at One Stone Lab School in Boise Idaho. Chad is one of the most innovative, creative and imaginative educators ever to come across my radar screen. To say he, and One Stone Lab School work “outside the box” is a vast understatement. In all ways, Chad and One Stone dispense with boxes and approach students as bundles of joyful potential and promise, as agents of their own lives and futures. Please support this podcast by leaving a rating and review at your favorite podcast store. 

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81. Dr. Mark Hines, the Obi-Wan Kenobi of Deeper Learning

 Today, I welcome back to the show Dr. Mark Hines, the Director of Kupu Hou Academy, and the founder of the Mid-Pacific Explorer program at Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. To his friends and colleagues, Mark is a Jedi warrior who uses The Force to help public, private and charter school educators find their inner deeper learning practice. To support this show, please give us a rating and review at your favorite podcast store. 

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80. Janelle Field: Totally Driven, Relentlessly Positive, Always Learning

You have heard the phrase “drinking from a firehose,” right? Well, listeners, you are about to have one of those firehose moments. Fasten your seatbelts because the next hour is going to get pretty crazy. Janelle Field is the PK-12 Teaching and Learning Engagement Coach at Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Public Schools located in central Minnesota. When I interviewed her, it was 3 degrees Fahrenheit in her neck of the woods. But inside her schools, the heat was on and the learning was happening, big time.

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79. Centering on Love, Justice and History, with Shiloh Francis

In this first episode of 2022, I speak with Hawaiʻi Technology Academy’s (HTA) Shiloh Francis, a remarkable history and government teacher. HTA is a blended learning charter school with seven campuses on four Hawaiʻi islands. Shiloh has leadership roles in two HTA professional development cohorts: The Teacher-Leader Cohort and the  Center for Love and Justice Cohort, among many other projects and roles. She is relentlessly focused on student-driven, real world learning. This episode is edited by Evan Kurohara. Our music is a gift from the master pianist, Michael Sloan.  

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69. (Rereleased) Reading the World, with Dr. Edna Hussey

(This is a re-release of my episode number 69 with Mid-Pacific Institute’s, Dr. Edna Hussey.) My guest for this first episode of our 3rd season is Dr. Edna Hussey, a passionate and dedicated educator committed to the advancement of an educated citizenry, children’s rights to quality learning AND the professionalism of teachers. Mention Dr.  Hussey’s name anywhere in Hawaiʻi and you will get mad respect and admiration. 

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78. The Power of Backwards Design, with Darciann Baker

My guest today is Darciann Baker, a faculty member at the Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi campus. Darciann is a native Hawaiian woman, born and raised in Hawaiʻi. Her entire career has been dedicated to the perpetuation of the Hawaiian language.  It is an endeavor she has held close to her heart ever since she found her Hawaiian identity when she was 15 years old. 

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77. The Deepest Meanings of Language and Community, with Dr. Julie Mowrer

Speaking of a thousand points of light, my guest today is the deeply insightful, Dr. Julie Mowrer, Acting Director of the Center for Community Engagement at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. Dr. Mowrer is also the Director of the English Language Institute (ELI), also at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and the founder of the Bonner Leadership Program.

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76. Meeting Students Where They Are At, With Wes Adkins

Speaking of a thousand points of light, my guest today is Wes Adkins, a math teacher at James Campbell High School in Ewa Beach, the largest school in all of Hawai‘i. He proudly works in an inclusion classroom, promotes self-paced learning environments, and implements project based learning assessments. Nipsey Hustle and Vector90 inspired him to work in STEM education and teach students the skills for locally minded entrepreneurship.  

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75. The Many Passions and Projects of Educator, Dr. Tammy Jones

Speaking of a thousand points of light, my guest today is Dr. Tammy Jones. Dr. Jones is a Project Coordinator for PLACES Hawaiʻi at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, supporting teachers on the Waiʻanae Coast to develop place-based curricula. She is also the curriculum developer and co-facilitator of Try Think, a program run in the state correctional facilities and sponsored by the Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities. 

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74. Communications, Deadlines and Teamwork, with Kevin Matsunaga

My guest today is Kevin Matsunaga, someone I have wanted on this show for a long, long time. Kevin never imagined he would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a teacher. He found his calling as the digital media teacher at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School on the island of Kauaʻi, and his students have won many national video competitions. In 2007, the Hawai’i Department of Education recognized Kevin with a Kauaʻi District Teacher of the Year award. The impact he has had on kids in our public schools since 2007 is simply staggering. 

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73. From Defensive End to Philosopher in Residence, with Chad Miller

A college football defensive end and a philosopher meet at a bar. The defensive end asks, “What’s the meaning of life?” The philosopher replies, “Missed tackles, my friend. To many missed tackles.” My guest today is Dr. Chad Miller, former NCAA football star, our 2012 Hawaiʻi State Teacher of the Year, a National Board Certified teacher, and currently a Specialist at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Institute for Teacher Education

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72. 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. 

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71. Dr. Cara Chaudron, Hawaii’s 2022 Public Charter School Teacher of the Year

Speaking of a thousand points of light, my guest today is Dr. Cara Chaudron, a math enthusiast born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i. Dr. Chaudron teaches 6th grade math at the School For Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability, known as SEEQS, a public charter school near and dear to my heart. I have done two previous episodes with SEEQERS, including faculty member, Zoe Ingerson and school founder, Buffy Cushman-Patz.  

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70. Of Green Labs and Piko Pals, with Lianna Lam

Speaking of 1000 points of light, today my guest is Lianna Lam, an educator and leader passionate about community and public schools who views both as places to seed and cultivate Aloha! Lianna holds an environmental engineering degree from University of California at Davis and a Masters in Education from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She has worked as an engineer, science teacher, sustainability coordinator and as a STEM Coordinator. 

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69. Reading The World, with Dr. Edna Hussey

My guest for this first episode of our 3rd season is Dr. Edna Hussey, a passionate and dedicated educator committed to the advancement of an educated citizenry, children’s rights to quality learning AND the professionalism of teachers. Mention Dr.  Hussey’s name anywhere in Hawaiʻi and you will get mad respect and admiration. 

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68. On Being The Daylight, with Erin Medeiros

What does it mean to be the daylight for someone? Today my guest for this final episode of Season 2, Semester 2 is Erin Medeiros, an epic educator at Kanuikapono Learning Center, a K–12 Hawaiian-culture-focused school in Anahola on the island of Kauaʻi in Hawaiʻi. Erin seeks renewal in literature and hiking, biking, or playing at the beach with her educator husband, Jonathon and their two daughters.

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67. Two Epic Teacher-Leaders, Melissa Montoya and Wrayna Fairchild

What must schools do to build caring and connected communities? What is student-driven learning? What learning challenges are authentic and real-world? What must schools do to help students become fully human? What does it mean that “school is in but class is outside”? How can schools help students and staff navigate the complexities of this age of acceleration? Why put Yertle the Turtle on trial?  Today my guests are Wrayna Fairchild and Melissa Montoya, two charter school educators selected for the Hawaiʻi State Teacher Fellows program. 

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66. Hawaii’s Living Treasures, Art and Rene Kimura

What does wise school leadership look, sound and feel like? How do we, as a nation, unleash the creativity, the imagination, the innovation that we seem to know already exists in every kid from birth? Profoundly impacted by the Challenger disaster, twenty years ago, Art and Rene Kimura created Future Flight Hawai‘i, a space-themed educational program, while Art, a former teacher and school administrator, was assigned to the Office of Space Industries, part of the Hawai‘i Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism. 

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65. “Making It” Author, Stephanie Malia Krauss: Part 2

 A few weeks ago Stephanie Malia Krauss published her first book, Making It: What Today’s Kids Need for Tomorrow’s World. Within hours it had rocketed to the top of Amazon’s education category. Why? Stephanie Malia and I tackle this question and more in this Part II of our podcast episode.  

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64. Beautiful Kauai’s Teacher of the Year, Serena Cox

What is parent coaching professional development and how does it help build healthy learning communities? What are co-created rubrics and what is the long term impact of films like Most Likely to Succeed?  Today my guest is Serena Cox, a Comprehensive School Improvement Resource Teacher, in the Kauai Complex Area on the island of Kauai. I first met Serena when she was a science teacher and the deeper learning coach at Waimea Canyon Middle School on Kauai. 

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63. The Crazy Busy Puzzle Master, Buddy Leong

 Fasten your seatbelts, listeners. This episode is going to blow your mind. Buddy Leong is a senior at Punahou School, which likely makes him 17 or 18 years old. Judging by his LinkedIn profile, he has accomplished more in his short life to date than most of us have accomplished in our lives combined. 

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62. Robert Pennybacker, Hawaii’s “Can Do” Renaissance Man

When I called Robert Pennybacker a “Renaissance Man” during my interview he seemed not to know why I attached the term to him. I can say with some confidence that folks in Robert’s network see him as exactly that. He is a poet, writer, producer, director, traveler, technologist, deep thinker and the very definition of both a specialist and generalist. He is also one of the founders of HIKI NŌ, arguably the most remarkable state student news network on Planet Earth. 

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61. Character Teaching Knowledge Practice, with Kaleialoha Aarona-Lorenzo

Today my guest is Kalei ʻAʻarona-Lorenzo, a kumu, or teacher of music, culture and Hawaiian language at the Kamehameha Schools Maui campus. She is the 3rd educator from this campus, including middle school teachers, Kui Gapero and Ululani Shiraishi, that I have featured in this series.

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60. The Most Beautifully Relevant Learning, with Florence Scott

This was Florence Scott‘s first podcast interview so it was understandable that she would text me after the fact asking if it was normal to be rethinking her responses to my questions. In some ways, her text to me illustrates at the deepest possible level who Florence is: A deeply reflective educator who lives and breathes relevant learning. Florence believes with all her mind and all her heart that learning is constant day in and day out, year in and year out. 

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59. Why Small Schools are Epic, with Jeanne Wilks

 What do we do about kindergarten teachers quitting their jobs, citing top down “seat time” mandates as…child abuse? And in what ways did teachers become learners again because of Covid-19? These and other questions are addressed in today’s episode. My guest is Jeanne Wilks who served as the Interim Head of Holy Nativity – a small, independent school in East O’ahu – from July 2019. After leading the school during the challenges of transition and COVID-19, the board appointed her permanent Head of School. 

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58. “Making It” Author, Stephanie Malia Krauss: Part 1

This morning, mainland time, Stephanie Malia Krauss became a first time author. Her book is titled Making It: What Today’s Kids Need for Tomorrow’s World. Ted Dintersmith, author of What School Could Be said the following about Stephanie Malia’s book: In her new book ‘Making It,’ Stephanie Malia Krauss delivers a wake-up call about the need to align the core of American education with the ever-changing demands of the workplace. She lays out a compelling vision of the currencies that will be essential to adults in coming decades and argues persuasively for a wholesale reimagination of how we educate all students — from toddlers through adults seeking to upgrade skills. For a roadmap to a better future, dive into this book! 

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57. Teacher Surfer Writer Builder Poet: Jonathon Medeiros

What do teachers need from their administrators? According to Jonathon Medeiros a bit of magic. What magic, you ask? To be known, really known, and respected for the experiences they bring to every conversation about students and learning. Jonathon has been teaching and learning about Language Arts and rhetoric for 15 years with his students on Kauaʻi. 

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56. Traveling to Two Moons, with Matthew Tom

What can we educators do to insure that kids coming out of elementary school don’t have their natural, innate curiosity, creativity and ingenuity crushed out of them by middle school, and later, high school? What is student-driven learning and what is the real meaning of student agency? In this episode I interviewed Matthew Tom, a teacher and media specialist at Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School in central Honolulu on O’ahu. Matthew engages his students in ways I find completely inspiring and want everyone to know about. 

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55. Unrulr’s Capturing Learning, with Fred Delse and Will Reppun

What does it mean when we talk about “capturing” learning (as if learning is some sort of fish in the sea)? What is the relationship between student and teacher when student-driven learning sits at the core of the classroom, or learning space? It’s these and other essential questions Fred Delse and Will Reppun tackled when they decided to found and develop the learning capture app, Unrulr, which is now being tested and used by public, private and charter schools here in Hawaiʻi. 

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54. Aaron Jamal Schorn, Capstone Man

My guest today for this final episode of Semester 1 of Season 2 is Aaron Jamal Schorn, Nalukai Foundation Program and Academy Startup Camp Director, and Capstone Coordinator at Hawai’i Preparatory Academy on Hawai’i Island. At Nalukai, Aaron creates and implements curriculum, hustles to find mentors and teaches digital storytelling. Outside of Nalukai he is focused on creating student-centered systems to authentically tell the story of learning communities. 

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53. Writer, Poet, Teacher, Mother, TFA Alum: Jannica Breslin

Metamorphosis, dragon flies, Hoʻokipa writers, coffee talks, Poetic Couture, Carol Dwek and finding the Filipina within, oh my!  My guest today is Jannica Breslin in an episode I am calling my Teach for America Special. This is a partnership with Jill Baldemor, the Executive Director of Teach for America Hawai`i. When I offered Jill the opportunity to name a TFA Hawaiʻi alum to be on this podcast, after some consideration, she named Jannica Breslin. 

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52. Marching for Justice and Planet Earth, with Kawika Ke Koa Pegram

What exactly is student voice? My guest today is Kawika Ke Koa Pegram, a recent graduate of Waipahu High School now matriculating at American University in Washington, DC. He cares not for these debates, in my humble opinion, because he is too busy acting on his beliefs, political and otherwise. 

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51. She Lives On The Edge Of Her Seat: Ululani Shiraishi

I have learned, as a podcast host, that some episode interviews are question and response, and some conversations are more…intimate. My episode here with Ululani Shiraishi is decidedly the latter. Ululani gave me a gift during this interview, a phrase I will use in my life going forward: Working at the edge of your seat. She comes from a place of part frenzy crazy, and part deliberate intentional. And she is always, always working at the edge of her seat. 

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50. Questing to Find the Golden Fleece with Argonaut Chris Balme

Chris Balme, my guest for this episode, writes: “Middle school is one of life’s great forks in the road. As the time when puberty begins and thus incredible neurological changes are taking place, middle school has an outsized impact on child development. For some students, it’s the time they begin to find their voice, their social identity, their sense of self in a bigger world. 

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49. A Reverence for Student-Centered Learning, with Kumu Kaulana Smith

The Kupu Hou Special: When I asked my dear friends, Mark Hines and John Cheever at Kupu Hou Academy to recommend a Kupu Hou friend and supporter to interview for this podcast, they both immediately and enthusiastically recommended Po’o Kumu Kaulana Smith. Kumu Kaulana is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School located near the ocean in a small township on the northeast shore of Hawaiʻi Island. 

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48. Our 2019 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year, Mathieu Williams

My guest today is Mathieu Williams, our 2019 State Teacher of the Year who constantly strives to be…better. It’s why I love the man, why I admire him so much, why everyone in Hawaiʻi, public, private, charter and community admires him so much and why his students love working with him. He is the ultimate guide, coach, sponsor and mentor of our Hawaiʻi youth, and for that, we are all grateful. 

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47. She’s Been Published!, with Danielle Mizuta

To be a learning coach, a teacher-leader, an educator coach and an expert on kids with special needs, some on the autistic spectrum, you have to be a deeply empathetic person…right down to your core. Danielle Mizuta has empathy in spades. Empathy is in her DNA. I have known this for a long, long time. 

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46. The Genome of SEEQS, with Buffy Cushman-Patz

In schools, as in life, the commodity in shortest supply is time. How we spend our time is how we enact our values (SEEQS.org). Buffy Cushman-Patz and I have known each other for a long time. Mere words cannot capture the enormous respect I have for her and the work she has done in our community. And, it was my high privilege to be on the team she assembled to write SEEQS charter. So what is SEEQS? 

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45. Coastal Erosion and Other Subjects, With Dan Gaudiano

Dan Gaudiano is the Academy Science Department Head at Punahou School. He has a BA in geology from Colgate University. At the University of South Carolina Columbia he earned an MS in geology, and then a  Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). Dan has written in scientific journals, authored scientific papers, been a coastal geologist and a scientific researcher. 

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44. All Good Things are Wild and Free, with Christina Hoe

“All Good Things Are Wild and Free” (Henry David Thoreau). As it turns out this episode is four years in the making. At the very start of my work with Ted Dintersmith and his film, Most Likely to Succeed, Christina Hoe, a humanities teacher at Le Jardin Academy, reached out to me via an intermediary and asked to bring all 77 of her students to my 2nd MLTS screening in January, 2016. 

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43. The Epic Journey of Lory Peroff, So Far

At the end of this episode Waikiki Elementary School educator, Lory Peroff read the following excerpt from a poem: The people I love the best, Jump into work head first, I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart, Who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience, Who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward, Who do what has to be done, again and again. (Marge Percy “To Be of Use”) 

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42. Matthew Lynch, Building Sustainability Initiatives

Matthew Lynch and I recorded this interview back on March 24th, just as the Covid-19 “shelter-in-place” lockdown began in Hawaiʻi. What we planned to do in person suddenly had to be done via Zoom. The resulting audio is pretty sketch, but wow, Matthew and I covered some serious ground over a 90-minute conversation. 

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41. When Your Teacher is a Trained Ballerina, with Heather Baylosis

Imagine a place where your lead elementary school teacher is a trained ballerina with a propensity for breaking out the dance moves during a lesson. Look no further than Maui and Heather Baylosis, a creative, imaginative and innovative teacher at Hawaiʻi Technology Academy’s Maui Campus. HTA is a seven-campus public  charter school (on four islands) that uses a blended learning model. 

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40. Here’s to the Crazy Ones, with Brian Dote (Part 2)

In Part 2 of this 23rd episode of Season 1, Brian Dote and I dive deep into ideas and concepts around educator professional development, the so-called “21st century transcript,” the wild and wonderful things happening at Waipahu High School,  how he deliberately and intentionally worked to develop his skills, habits and dispositions, and his proximity to the Black Swan event that was the first iPhone. 

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39. Here’s to the Crazy Ones, with Brian Dote (Part 1)

Brian Dote has been orbiting near “Black Swan” (type) events all of his professional life. To qualify as a “Black Swan,” an event has to be: Completely unpredictable and rare: Hugely impactful: People love to say after the event, we saw it coming (which they didn’t). Brian worked on Steve Jobs’ team that designed, built and launched the first iPhone, which changed the arc of and accelerated the course of history. 

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38. Being the Change They Want to See, with Robyn Vierra

In one of my longer episodes Robyn Vierra, the Director of Global Education at Punahou School, and I range across a wide variety of subjects, including a day in the life of her 4th grade classroom, what it really means to have a global perspective, the dangers of “keeping it simple” during the 2020 Covid-19 crisis, models of distributed work in this 21st century, Kozol’s “Savage Inequalities,” competency-based learning and what it means to let kids be the change they want to see. 

 
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37. Miki Cacace, OUR Hawaii Milken Award Winner

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. 

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36. Fasten Your Seatbelts: It’s Justin Brown Time

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. 

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35. Leslie Witten Knows Distance Learning

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. 

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34. Whitney Aragaki on the Noble Profession

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. 

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33. Climbing Summits and Exploring Questions, with Wasfia Nazreen: Part 2

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.  

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32. Steve Sue Makes a Very Tasty Lemonade

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. 

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31. Climbing Summits and Exploring Questions with Wasfia Nazreen: Part 1

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.

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30. Derek and Micah: Two Student-Centered School Leaders

 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. 

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29. Melissa Handy’s Brilliant Maker Mindset

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.

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28. Of Goats, Anthropology and EdTech, with Shawna Gunnarson

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. 

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27. Seeking Essential Questions, with Zoe Ingerson

 Listen to my guest, Zoe Ingerson 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.

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26. There is No Doubt Lori Kwee Changes Lives

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. 

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25. For Chris Stapleton, Cultural Context Really Matters

 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).

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24. Ten Epic Questions for Helen Turner, Part 2

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. 

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23. Ten Epic Questions for Helen Turner, Part 1

 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. 

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22. Yes, Hawai’i Kids CAN!

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.  

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21. A Progressive’s Progressive, Amber Makaiau

 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. 

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20. Kanoelani Elementary Chooses Love

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. 

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19. Finding the Genius of a Place, with Dan Kinzer

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. 

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18. Trish Morgan’s Magical, Fantastical Imaginarium

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. 

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17. Paul Singer, One of Hawaii’s Greatest Assets

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. 

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16. Sandy Cameli, Coach of Teacher Leaders

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. 

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15. On Being Bold And Brave with Kristie Fetterly

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. 

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14. Cecilia Chung, Hawaii’s Epic Teacher Of The Year

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. 

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13. Doug Hiu IV, Living Breathing Education

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. 

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12. The Umi Project, Intentionally Born

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. 

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11. Investing in Human Capital, with Robert Landau

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. 

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10. Three Global Deeper Learning Superheroes

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. 

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This Podcast is About Collaboration

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. 

9. Susannah Johnson is Individualized And Realized

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. 

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8. The Dreams of Alex Teece

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. 

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7. Zack Morita, Jedi Music Man

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. 

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6. Luke Ritchie Knows School Transformation

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.

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5. Evan Beachy Knows Assessments

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. 

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4. Kui Gapero Knows What School Could Be

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.  

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3. Katina Soares: Educator, Innovator, Leader

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. 

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2. Melissa Speetjens, Public School Proud

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. 

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1. Janice Blaber Inverts Maslow

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. 

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Our Podcast Beta Test

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.