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. Jonathon was my guest at the start of this podcast semester. The Medeiros family lives in the moku of Puna in the ahupuaʻa of Kapaʻa. Erin is a National Board Certified English language arts and social studies teacher who is passionate about language and hopes to grow her students’ capacities to be curious, read critically, write energetically, speak clearly, and listen attentively. She views teaching as a deeply creative profession and encourages her students to develop their attention to the past and present, to observe and question life. She does whatever it takes to get her students outside and into the community at least once a week and loves to prepare them each year to perform at Poetry Out Loud. Erin believes that networks and human connections are vital to a healthy teaching career. She is or has been a new teacher mentor, a peer mediation advisor, a nature club advisor, a senior project coordinator and Hope Street Group Hawaiʻi State Fellow. In November of 2018 she facilitated a breakout session at the Schools of the Future Conference that, with fellow teacher-writers, advocated for and guided educators in methods of generating and publishing essays and blog posts. She serves humbly as a Merwin Creative Teaching Fellow, which takes inspiration from Hawaii’s renowned poet W. S. Merwin. Erin earned a BA in history from Lewis & Clark College and a masters in education from the University of Oregon. Huge thanks to Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations for his post production on this podcast. To learn more about Daniel, or hire him for your next music gig, click here. This is the last episode of our second season! We will be back in the Fall of 2021 with the 3rd season of this What School Could Be in Hawaiʻi podcast. Please stay safe, get vaccinated and be kind to one another. A hui hou!
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. To introduce them I am going to read the section of the Public Charter School Commission’s newsletter announcing their appointments to the cohort. “The Hawaiʻi State Teacher Fellows Program brings together outstanding public school educators from across the state and provides teachers with peer and community engagement skills, tools to facilitate focus groups, along with communication and advocacy strategies. The program is run out of the Hawaiʻi Department of Education’s Leadership Institute. The competitive applications process includes submission of narratives, recommendations and an interview. When asked why she applied for the Fellowship Program, Melissa Montaya (Kamaile Academy) said, ‘… I wanted to be a part of an organization that wants to elevate teachers, outside of my own organization. I believe in collective and collaborative teams, so I am beyond ecstatic to engage in opportunities that support public education on a larger scale. Hawaiʻi deserves a system that promotes excellence at all levels of education.’ Wrayna Fairchild (Voyager Public Charter School) said she applied for the program, ‘because I want to further develop as a teacher-leader. I have been fortunate to take on a teacher-leader role at my school and have had the opportunity to participate in national teacher-leader cohorts. Applying to be part of this special group that supports education at the state level seemed like a great fit for me.’ She added, ‘Hawaiʻi has some amazing, talented educators. By helping to connect these teachers, and working to support their classroom efforts, the practice of all is elevated.'” As always, our original theme music and post production is provided by Daniel Gilad of DG Sound Creations in Honolulu. Please stay safe, friends! Continue to wear your masks where required and please, please get vaccinated. Until next time, a hui hou!
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? What’s the core idea behind the creation of K-12 pipelines to fields in STEM and space? Why work so hard to create these pipelines for kids? What does it mean to live effectively in a human made world? 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. When that office was closed in 2002, the Hawai‘i Space Grant Consortium adopted Future Flight Hawaiʻi as the centerpiece of its K-12 educational programs where it continues to grow and touch the lives of so many. With their ongoing affiliation with Hawai‘i Space Grant, Art and Rene have created a whole host of educational and public outreach activities that have reached an estimated 150,000 students, their parents, and teachers. Their work includes K-12 educational programs, science nights, courses for teachers, grants, and participation in local, national, and international engineering educational programs. For a sampling of programs Google search online for Future Flight Hawai‘i, or Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Day, or Astronaut Lacy Veach Day and/or Robotics in Hawai‘i. Former Hawai’i Governor Linda Lingle, in her 2008 State of the State Address, called Art Kimura the father of Hawai‘i robotics, which is epic. In 2015 Art and Rene were named as Living Treasures of Hawaiʻi. The Hawai‘i Space Grant Consortium posted the following comment online in that moment: “The HSGC ohana extends our heartfelt congratulations to Art and Rene Kimura upon being named Living Treasures of Hawai‘i. Among six recipients, the Kimuras were recognized as visionary educators and proponents of science. Bestowed by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai‘i, the Living Treasure Award recognizes and honors individuals ‘who have demonstrated excellence and high standards of achievement in their particular fields of endeavor, and, through their continuous growth, learning and sharing, have made significant contributions towards enriching our society.'” As always, post production and original theme music was provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Please stay safe, everyone! Wear your masks and for the love of the gods, please get vaccinated.
What does it mean to live in an “open source society”? What impact is the so-called Age of Acceleration having on your school age children? When did the blue collar, white collar paradigm start to shift? What does it mean to be “cognitively fit”? What is the impact on kids of being hyperconnected but totally alone? Why will going to college or pursuing a postsecondary credential increasingly feel like shopping on a poorly organized Amazon? 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 these aforementioned questions and more in this Part II of our podcast episode. 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!” To my educator friends in Hawaiʻi, and all educators out there, I echo Ted’s endorsement. During my reading all I could think about is how timely Stephanie Malia’s book will prove to be, especially after the events of this pandemic year. Stephanie Malia has deep roots in Hawaiʻi. She is Native Hawaiian, a kanaka maoli whose Tutu Nui (grandma) and her family are from from Moloka’i. Her aunties there were teachers, including supporting the state school on Kalaupapa. Her Papa Nui’s (grandfather) family is from Maui. Born on a plantation there, he was orphaned, but there is evidence that his ancestry traces back to royalty. Stephanie Malia was raised on the “mainland” (the other 49 states), but spent early summers with grandparents in Maunawili on O’ahu. She sees writing this book as her kuleana (responsibility) after eight years off the frontline and into national work. Stephanie Malia is the owner and principal at First Quarter Strategies, a senior advisor to Jobs for the Future and a staff consultant for the Youth Transition Funders Group. Learn more about her work and ways to collaborate with her at her website. Stay safe and in good health, everyone.
How do you tend to a school garden if you can’t get to school? What does it mean to coach deeper learning? What is 20% time and how does a school get started with the concept? How did certain technologies like ScreenCastify and EdPuzzle help educators bridge the distance learning gap? 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. In a Season 1 episode, I featured Serena’s principal, Melissa Speetjens. Serena was instrumental in helping me develop the 20% time segment in my new documentary film, The Innovation Playlist. She is the Kauai island Teacher of the Year 2021, a program of the Hawaii Department of Education that honors a teacher of the year from each of the 15 Hawaii complexes. Serena was 2015/2016 Teacher of the Year at the Dr. P. J. Fisher Schoo in South Carolina and the 2012/2013 Teacher of Year at the Greer Middle School, also in South Carolina. She is a certified PBLWorks facilitator, among many, many other awards and certificates. Serena has done what all fully committed teachers do: direct the drama club, coach cheerleading and soccer, and mentor young people that they might be most likely to succeed. Serena graduated summa cum laude from Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and has a Master’s degree in Middle Level Science. As always, our original theme music and post production is provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Check out his website and Facebook URL. Please stay safe, wear your masks and for the love of the gods, get vaccinated. A hui hou and we will see you in two weeks.
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. I think it’s best if I let Buddy introduce himself via the “About” section of his LinkedIn page. Buddy writes, “I’m an aspiring social entrepreneur, youth leader, and investor. In 2015, I was part of the youngest team to win a StartUp Weekend and place as the first runner up in the Global Startup Battle business competition. I am passionate about our Hawaiʻi community and have over 4,000 community service volunteer hours. Currently, I am the Executive Director of an organization called Virtual Student Experiences which brings students together with industry professionals willing to share their industry knowledge, experiences, and tips with students. To improve on my finance and computer science technical skills, I have completed Introduction to Python Data Science at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and am enrolled in Google’s Data Analytics Certificate Program. I have held world rankings in two different video games, been in the top 1% of three, and can solve a Rubik’s Cube in about 1 minute.” How’s about that for an “About” section on LinkedIn? And, crazy as this sounds, what Buddy writes above is only the half of it. He has been a technical manager, talent acquisition specialist, business co-founder, back end operations manager and much more. Oh yes, he has a passion for finance and understands all too well how grades, transcripts and SAT scores fall short when it comes to knowing what a young person knows, is and can do. Buddy’s parents are Hawaiʻi entrepreneurs, teachers and authors; it is through them that I became aware of Buddy’s work. Thank you, Kari and Evan Leong for partnering with me to make this interview happen! As always, our theme music and post production editing is provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Please stay safe, wear your masks and get vaccinated when it’s your time (don’t wait, do it now).
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. This is no joke, listeners; I am not engaging in hyperbole. There are lots of student news programs around the nation, but none with the mission and vision, nor the scope and reach of HIKI NŌ. A USC Film School graduate, Robert has driven HIKI NŌ forward for 10 years now, the last year a remarkable pivot during this Covid-19 pandemic. He is the Vice President of Learning Initiatives at PBS Hawai’i, where HIKI NŌ lives. This program’s impact on kids is simply staggering and today we are going to hear how it was built and what drove Robert to move it forward. Robert Pennybacker’s resume is long and deep. Early on he was a local television marketing director. In late 2000 he started his own advertising/production company called Pennybacker Creative, LLC, then joined PBS Hawaiʻi as Vice President of Creative Services in late 2007. His awards and recognition include the 1984 Regional Emmy Award for Television Promotional Spots; 3 Pele Awards (Hawaii’s ADDY Awards) for excellence in advertising; he oversaw the promotional campaign for one of the most successful network affiliation switches ever (when Hawaii’s NBC affiliate switched to FOX). Robert is an independent filmmaker who has written more than 20 documentaries about life and people in Hawaii. As I wrote earlier, he is a poet and writer. In 2007 he became the Vice President of Creative Services at PBS Hawai’i and oversaw all local programming, on-air promotion, interstitial production, station branding, and the production of on-air fundraising for the station, as well as management of personnel. Robert and I go back pretty far. We played high school football together back in the 70s at Punahou School. He was a tight end, I played center, which makes this moment special for me. As always, our post-production and original theme music is provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Check out Daniel’s website to learn more, or to book him for your next music gig. If you love these episodes please write us a review and rate us in your favorite podcast store. Stay safe, wear your masks and get vaccinated when it is your turn. And bring kindness and compassion into the world!
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. I divided this interview up into three parts. Part I is all about Kalei, her background, her music and how she connects music to place. Part II is about her philosophy of education, a section that includes a very interesting conversation about grades. Part III is a section I called “Your Happy Place,” with questions about a visit to KSBE Maui by the Stanford Talisman acapella group and her founding of the Hawaiian Music Ensemble. Kalei is considered a legend by faculty and students alike at KS Maui. In this conversation you will find her precise, measured, warm, spiritual, at times conflicted (about grades, for example) and deeply reflective. She brings to her teaching all of her head and all of her heart, and a lifetime of experience making music. Starting back when her parents were choir members at Kaumakapili Church in Kalihi and continuing today as she nurtures her Hawaiian Music Ensemble at KS Maui, she connects her life and her music to the aina, the land she loves. Kalei founded this Hawaiian Music Ensemble back in 2006 with three students. Today the group has 48 members; 24 dancers and 24 musicians. Kalei has taken this ensemble south to places in French Polynesia (where they performed for its president) and New Zealand. She has a bachelors in music and Hawaiian language, and a masters in secondary curriculum and instruction from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa. She is a 1985 graduate of the Kamehameha Schools Kapālama campus. Her full resume is long and deep in action research. As always, our original theme music and post production editing was done by Daniel Gilad of DG Sound Creations. Please stay safe, wear your masks, get vaccinated when it is your turn and bring kindness and compassion into the world.
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. After an hour of interviewing her I had the overwhelming desire to return to middle school, which was a completely crummy experience for me some 50 years ago at Punahou School. Back then my teachers saw me as a mediocre student (I have the grade reports plus comments to prove this) who seemed to fail each time I was asked to report my learning on a test or in a paper. Ugh. In reality I was a deeply reflective kid who lived and breathed the outdoors, making things, books and…family dinner table Socratic seminars. So it goes without saying that had I had Florence Scott in the 6th, 7th or 8th grade I would have been most likely to succeed, most likely to shine when it came to the meta process of “knowing thyself.” Florence, in so many ways reminds me of my favorite high school teacher, Paul “Doc” Berry, who inspired me to push all boundaries and became my lifelong friend and mentor. I imagine Florence’s kids, years or decades from now, searching for her on Facebook so they can tell her how much she supported their inherent creativity, imagination and innovation. My conversation with her was a total blast; I hope you come away from it with a bushel of ideas and small steps that might move your educator practice towards student-driven learning. Florence said the following about herself in her resume (which I converted to the 3rd person): [She is ]…a dynamic, versatile education professional with more than nine years managing academic programs and leading education initiatives while supporting and empowering students and colleagues. She is an accomplished instructional leader able to conceptualize goals and plan accordingly to address the needs of all students’ unique learning modalities. And, she has a proven track record of developing and implementing curriculum activities that promote social, emotional, and cognitive development. Florence serves as a middle school humanities teacher, guide, coach, mentor and navigator at Hawaii Technology Academy’s Kauai Campus. She has also served in various English language arts positions in both South Carolina, Maryland and Great Britain. She has a bachelors degree in English and a masters degree in Education. As always our original theme music and post production editing was provided by Daniel Gilad of DG Sound Creations. Friends, stay safe, wear your masks, get vaccinated and bring kindness into the world. We need lots and lots of kindness right now.
What is the true value of small schools? In what ways might we break up larger schools into smaller units, and why? What is the value add of an education that is both secular and faith-based? Why is teaching a sacred act and in what ways can bad teachers be destructive to the lives of kids? What is the core of the debate between content and skills and how are skills different from strengths? 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. Someone who knows Jeanne well said she is grounded in her beliefs, possesses a hold-your-ground kind of confidence (but is humble), is gently persistent, is an optimist and is possessed of the ability to trust and empower. What a testament! Wilks holds a masters in Private School Leadership from the University of Hawai’i and has been an independent school administrator since 2013. She also has a background in audio engineering and food science. Most of all, she is a team builder who has, according to folks who know her, navigated a terrible pandemic using her fantastic listening skills and ability to build trust. From the Holy Nativity School website we read that the school has a rich history of providing a personalized approach to learning in a small, intimate, setting for students starting school as three year-olds and continuing on through the 6th grade. Small classes, nurturing teachers, challenging curriculum, and integrated technology create the foundation that has continually encouraged outstanding achievements as HNS students display the inherent pleasure of lifelong learning. As always, post-production is provided by Daniel Gilad of DG Sound Creations. To learn more about Daniel, or to hire him for your next music gig, check out his website and Facebook URL. Please stay safe and bring compassion into the world!
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! To my educator friends in Hawaiʻi, and all educators out there, I echo Ted’s endorsement. During my reading all I could think about is how timely Stephanie Malia’s book will prove to be, especially after the events of this pandemic year. Stephanie Malia has deep roots in Hawaiʻi. She is Native Hawaiian, a kanaka maoli whose Tutu Nui (grandma) and her family are from from Moloka’i. Her aunties there were teachers, including supporting the state school on Kalaupapa. Her Papa Nui’s (grandfather) family is from Maui. Born on a plantation there, he was orphaned, but there is evidence that his ancestry traces back to royalty. Stephanie Malia was raised on the “mainland” (the other 49 states), but spent early summers with grandparents in Maunawili on O’ahu. She sees writing this book as her kuleana (responsibility) after eight years off the frontline and into national work. To learn more about Stephanie Malia go to StephanieMaliaKrauss.com. To purchase her book, which I recommend, search for Making It on Amazon.com. Part II of this interview will be coming soon! Stay safe and in good health, everyone.
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 writes: Too often, while teachers are reaching toward our students, inviting them in and making them feel valuable, administrators are planning meetings in air-conditioned offices by filling time slots and checking compliance boxes instead of thinking about who their teachers are, what we might need, what we bring to the table. These are opportunities missed. Jonathon has been teaching and learning about Language Arts and rhetoric for 15 years with his students on Kauaʻi. He frequently writes about education policy and is the former director of the Kauaʻi Teacher Fellowship. He also enjoys building things, surfing, and spending time with his wife (a future episode guest) and daughters. He is currently working on a few projects, including a collection of essays, a collection of poems from his familyʻs daily writing practice during the global pandemic shutdown, and a journal about his days in the ocean. He is a self-styled contrarian, so stay tuned to see how that plays out! Jonathon has been member of the Hawaii Department of Education – State Office, Leadership Institute. He has been a Hawaiʻi State Teacher Fellow and a WASC visiting team member. He has a M.Ed. in Teaching and Learning from the University of Oregon: an M.A. in Literature from Portland State University: and a B.A. in English from University of Portland. As always, our theme music and post production editing is provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Please stay safe, wear your masks and bring kindness and compassion to the world.
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. He is the Faculty advisor for Stevenson’s media service organization, which specializes in event photography and producing digital media content for the school. Matthew’s program seeks to build and maintain a positive campus culture, excite students about photography and videography, and build student skills in digital media production. Matthew is also the faculty advisor for Tusitala, which is the Literary and Arts Magazine at Stevenson recently recognized by the National Council of Teachers of English. Tusitala means “the teller of tales” in Samoan and is the name Samoans gave to Robert Louis Stevenson when he traveled there. Matthew has taught or been an edtech specialist in Hawaii, Japan and Washington. His undergraduate in English is from Willamette University. He has a masters in curriculum and teaching from the University of Oregon and is currently in a professional practice, doctoral program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa. Matthew’s teacher website is an absolute wonderland of student exhibitions of learning and imaginative curriculums. In the years ahead Matthew will be one of Hawaii’s leaders when it comes to students owning their learning journeys. As always, our theme music and post production is provided by Daniel Gilad of DG Sound Creations. For more on Daniel, or to book him for your next music gig, check out his new website or Facebook page. Please stay safe, wear your masks and bring kindness into the world. Until next time!
What is the purpose of an education? When and where does learning happen? What does it mean to evaluate learning? What does “assessment” mean? 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. Marc Allard, a science, engineering and design teacher at the Menlo School in California said the following about Unrulr: I care about process; it’s super important. And Unrulr is one of the only ways, if I think about it, to get evidence of process. Even if we’re not dealing with COVID, this is good for process. Evan Beachy, Strategy and Transformation at Kamehameha Schools, states: What makes Unrulr special is that it speaks the language of social media, which is the parlance of today’s youth. Being able to express yourself with words, pictures, videos and other formats means that you can paint a really unique picture of who you are and what you’ve done. But more important than all of that, you can do this in a way that encourages collaboration and discussion with others. Fred Delse has worked in roles varying from software engineer to product management to corporate administration for Hewlett-Packard, Yahoo, Tetris Online and ‘ike Hawaii. He has two masters degrees; one from Stanford and the other from The Anderson School of business at UCLA. Will Reppun is a graduate of Punahou School here in Honolulu and has a degree in computer science from Harvard University. He was an optimization engineer at Navatek, a technical director and instructor at New Horizons Prep in Shanghai and a senior engineer at Exiger Analytics. Most recently he was director of product development at Data House in Honolulu, where he met Fred and they hatched Unrulr. As always, the original music and sound editing in these episodes is provided by Daniel Gilad of DG Sound Creations. Check out his new website! If you like or love this podcast, please give us a rating and review at your favorite podcast store. Take care, be safe and please bring kindness into the world.
On October 25th, 2020 the Honolulu Star Advertiser published a column by Susannah Johnson, founder of Individualized Realized LLC, co-founder of IMPACT Bound and former educator at Assets School. The column was titled: Reimagining education with purpose is needed in a pandemic, and for the future. In this Teacher Voice Special #3, Susannah reads her column out loud. It is my intention to extend the life of her column by featuring it in this way, in this episode. If 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. She also co-founded IMPACT Bound, an education choice that totally reimagines learning. Susannah 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.
In an October 28th, 2020 blog post at XanEdu Jonathon Mederios wrote about about curiosity as a planning tool for educators. It’s a fabulous blog post. Here, in this Teacher Voice Special #2, he does an out loud “semi dramatic” reading of his post. It is my intention that when educators publish in public places, I will try to extend their words by turning them in to mini episodes. Jonathon has been teaching and learning about Language Arts and rhetoric for 15 years with students on Kauaʻi and is currently teaching 12th grade Language Arts and serving as an upper academy lead at his alma mater, Kaua’i High. He frequently writes about education policy and is the former director of the Kauaʻi Teacher Fellowship. Jonathon enjoys building things, surfing, and spending time with his wife and daughters. He believes in teaching his students that if you change all of your mistakes and regrets, you’d erase yourself. Jonathon is currently working on a few projects, including a collection of essays, a full length collection of poems from his familyʻs daily writing practice during the global pandemic shutdown, and a journal about his days in the ocean. Follow Jonathon on Twitter @jonmedeiros or visit his page at jonathonmedeiros.com.
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. Aaron has published articles on local magazines including this one about teaching in the time of COVID. At Hawai’i Preparatory Academy (HPA) he teaches Digital Journalism and Social Entrepreneurship courses that are centered around Product-Based Learning, the Lean Startup methodology, project management, and building digital brands. His classes are supported by mentors across industries working directly with students on their products. Aaron’s professional background is in international business, digital storytelling, operations, management, UX/UI, and content creation. Most importantly, Aaron is the Capstone Coordinator at HPA, which gives kids in the 5th, 8th and 12th grades the opportunity to build a project that elevates and improves their surrounding communities. Aaron’s work on capstone programs is pioneering and will globally shape the way these types of opportunities are given to students in the future. Back in February, 2020 his 90 capstone students were moving intently towards the second half of their projects. Then, COVID-19 hit and everything went upside down. Undeterred, not only did HPA students execute pandemic pivots and complete their projects, they also completed their public exhibitions of learning, this time in virtual spaces built and designed by Aaron. I was one of the observers invited into these digital exhibition spaces. It was…epic. In this Semester 1, Season 2 capstone episode Aaron and I dive deep into what school could be, what learning could be, what student agency would be if we turned ownership of learning over to them. As you listen to Aaron, note the joy in his voice when he talks about Hawaiʻi and the ways his students are shaping its present, and future. Aaron is a dear friend who has inspired me to jump higher and reach further towards this show’s credo, which is “100% by Yesterday.” As always, our show’s theme music, and editing is provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. To learn more about Daniel, or to book him for your next music gig, navigate to his Facebook page. If you love this episode, please give us a rating and review at your favorite podcast store. Semester 2 of Season 2 starts again in February. Until then, stay safe, wear your masks, stay physically distant from one another and please, bring kindness into the world. We need more.
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. There have been many TFA alums as guests on this podcast, but none specifically named by TFA Hawaii’s top brass, which is way cool. Jannica is a middle school language arts teacher at Konawaena Middle School on Hawai‘i Island. She was a 2009 Teach for America corps member, which would make this her 12th year in education. Jannica was in the same cohort year as Justin Brown, who I interviewed on this podcast for Season 1. TFA Hawaiʻi Executive Director, Jill Baldemor said the following about her pick for this episode: “Jannica is a humble local girl, a public school graduate of Farrington High School, and not as well known, but definitely a bright light in her approach and leadership, which has been especially apparent during COVID. She was one of the first teachers to proactively stand up informal teacher collaboration groups to share best practices in distance learning and she’s helped her school a bunch in the transition.” In this episode Jannica and I ranged across a variety of subjects including her passion for writing, her love of vulnerabilities and growth mindsets, her Aloha for TFA and what it takes to get middle school kids excited about words. She is funny, thoughtful (there are long pauses between my question and the start of her responses) and she cares deeply about children. Jannica teaches with another, former podcast guest, Shawna Gunnarson. What an extraordinary opportunity for kids in Kona to learn from Shawna and Jannica! As always, our theme music and editing is done by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. You can learn more about Daniel at his Facebook page. I am super pleased to note that 41 out of 41 listeners have given our podcast a 5 star rating. We appreciate this very much and thank you for the wonderful written reviews. If you love these episodes with remarkable and innovative educators and education leaders, please give us your own rating and write us a review at your favorite podcast store.
What exactly is student voice? This question has become the hot topic in public, private and charter schools here in Hawaiʻi, for which I am glad. Sometimes the conversation revolves around giving students agency over their learning. At other times we talk about public exhibitions of learning and the ways students might articulate what they know and what they can do. Conversations around student activism, especially around ways to encourage kids to be politically active, seem fewer and farther between. I wonder sometimes if we are afraid to encourage this kind of deep community involvement for fear that parents might object or schools might feel liable. 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. Kawika is a member of the Youth Commission for the State of Hawaiʻi. He is also the Executive Director of the Hawaiʻi Youth Climate Coalition and a Youth Activist for the United States Youth Climate Strike. Kawika has written articles on climate change for both the Honolulu Star Advertiser and Hawaiʻi Business Magazine. He was especially active in the leadup to local and national elections here and in Nevada in the Fall of 2020. He is one of more than 60 student leaders who have stepped up to lead climate strikes in cities and towns across the country in 2019 as part of a global school strike for climate action modeled after the example of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. He was inspired to become a leader for climate action after East Island, a small and unpopulated island in the French Frigate Shoals, was swallowed up by the sea after a hurricane last fall. He has forged contacts with the Hawaiʻi chapters of organizations like 350.org and the Sierra Club, as well as progressive political groups like Our Revolution and The Progressive Movement of Hawaiʻi. His role in the movement involves creating messaging, working directly with student government groups across Hawaii to get youth on board, and gathering support from elected officials like Senator Mazie Hirono. In short, Kawika Ke Koa Pegram is a – to use Guy Kawasaki’s term – a “remarkable person,” and he is just getting started. In this interview I pitched him some pretty philosophical questions about life on Planet Earth and range vs. specificity. He knocked them out of the park. So please enjoy and if you love this conversation, give us a rating and review at your fav podcast store. As always, my sound editor and the creator of our theme music is Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Dial him up at his Facebook Page.
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. This conversation touched on what it means to be 100% wife, 100% mother, 100% teacher all at the same time; the purpose of getting a graduate degree; the energy generated when one is forced to “pivot” (to use an overused Covid-19 term); the current revolution in education and the crazy cool things going on at Kamehameha Schools, Maui Campus; the special things that happen when we leave just a little room for margins in our lives, and much more. This will easily go down as one of my favorite interviews in either the 1st or 2nd season of this podcast series. There were times when I forgot I was recording the thing. Ululani is a treasure, a luminous and effervescent being on an epic personal and professional journey. More on Ululani Shiraishi: she is a Kamehameha Schools Maui, middle school language arts teacher who is deep into SEL, Hawaiian culture and trans-disciplinary teaching and learning. She is on the KSBE Maui Middle School Leadership Team and is a close partner with Kui Gapero, one of my early guests on this podcast in Season One. Ululani is a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools’ Keala‘ula Innovations Institute, which is a creative learning program where Kamehameha Schools teachers focus on professional development. The program spotlights learning in terms of creativity, problem-solving and critical thinking, skills that are essential for students to succeed today and tomorrow. Ululani also taught in Hawaii’s public schools as a National Board Certified Teacher. At Kamehameha Schools Maui, she is an ardent believer in simultaneously teaching the heart and intellect of kids through engaging inquiry-based learning experiences. She is currently working on a graduate degree in student learning and well-being. Hope, self-efficacy, curiosity, and good old fashioned hard work drive her teaching and life. My huge thanks to Evan Reppun Beachy, who directs the Kealaʻula Institute for recommending Ululani. As always, our theme music and post-production editing is provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. To learn more about Daniel check out his Facebook page. If you love this episode please give us a rating and review in your favorite podcast store. Take care, be safe and bring kindness and compassion into the world.
Chris Balme, my guest for this “quick kine bites” 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. For most, unfortunately, it’s the opposite of that–the time when students lose engagement in school, forgot their authentic sense of self for the ‘false self’ of whatever passes for cool in school, and begin orienting themselves to do whatever it takes to win social status. It is the time that most Americans describe as the worst part of their education, and possibly of their lives, yet educators, psychologists and neuroscientists would agree that it is one of the most formative and important times of our childhood. What is going on with middle school? This paradox led me to co-found Millennium School, a laboratory middle school in San Francisco. Our premise was that middle school is so often painful (for both the students and adults around them) because it’s designed without a basis in developmental science. It’s not aligned with the core drives middle schoolers feel, the drives that are wired into their psyches and biology. As a result, we miss the opportunities of what could be a beautiful phase in which giant leaps are taken toward adulthood, and when kids often discover the first real signs of adult potential within themselves. We spent three years researching the underlying developmental science of this age before we started Millennium, visiting schools, professors, thinkers, kids, parents, teachers, etc., and I’ve now spent nearly four years running our lab school to put the resulting practices into action. It’s still too early to say anything comprehensive about our insights, but we do have a few early suggestions from our adventure so far. What I’ve seen already has given me great confidence that middle school can be a consistently positive, inspiring, highly engaging experience for young people, one in which they greatly develop their minds, their sense of self, and a wide range of capacities and intelligences.” Chris Balme stepped away from The Millennium School in June, 2020 to found Argonaut: “Argonaut is a ‘pop-up’ camp designed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In-person camps may be closing, but summer is not lost. Summer can still be a time of adventure, exploration and self-discovery. The name Argonaut comes from the Greek myth of the Argonauts, a band of heroes who embarked on an epic quest and had adventures of all kinds along the way.” If you love this “quick kine bites” episode please rate us in your Apple Podcast, Spotify or Stitcher platform, and give us a review!
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. Laupahoehoe serves approximately 300 students from pre-school through 12th grade. Kumu Kaulana has worked with Hawaii’s students in public education and the community for many years. She came to Laupahoehoe Charter School with experience in the fields of Special Education and Administration. She has experience with a variety of student-centered learning programs, interventions, and support services in partnership with an array of organizations including the Foundation for Excellent Schools, the Pacific American Foundation, the Hawai’i Network of Learning Communities, the High Tech Youth Network, and Kupu Hou Academy. She also participates with parent and community groups in enhancing student and school development, including Laupahoehoe Governing Board, WASC Accreditation and the Hawaiʻi Association of Independent Schools. Previously, Kumu Kaulana served at Kawaikini New Century Public Charter School in Special Education and as Student Services Coordinator. From the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa, Kumu Kaulana has a Bachelor of Arts in English. From Chaminade University in Honolulu she has a Master of Education in Special Education and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership. In this conversation we ranged across education in ancient Hawaiʻi to the broad expanse of project-based learning. My editor, show consultant and sound engineer is Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Daniel, an amazing musician, created the original theme music heard in these episodes. To learn more about Daniel or to hire him for YOUR next music gig, check out his Facebook URL.
Prior to all interviews for this podcast series I ask guests to provide me with a bushel of biographic material, their resumes, stuff they have published in print or online, etc. I use these “artifacts of a life” to build my interview questions. Of all the artifacts Mathieu Williams provided for me this 7th episode interview, a short YouTube video titled “Better | Mamba Forever | Nike” really stood out. I wondered, Why did Mathieu put this item in his portfolio when it is not about him? It’s only 70 seconds but boy oh boy, does it explain our 2019 State Teacher of the Year. At first you think it’s a Nike commercial, and then you think it’s a Nike tribute to Kobe Bryant, but in fact it’s a tribute to those who strive to be better, and better and better. Mathieu Williams was our State Teacher of the Year because he 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. Mathieu has a degree in business administration and web design from Walla Walla University, and a masters in educational leadership from Chaminade University, here in Hawaiʻi. He is a Hope Street Group Hawaiʻi teacher fellow, and a global teacher fellow with Teachers for Global Education. On Hawaiʻi Island in Kona, Mathieu co-designed the Alumni Mentors Program for Teach for America Hawaiʻi to promote increased community engagement and build models of sustainable leadership within schools. He also taught special education, which means he collaborated with co-teachers and paraprofessionals to differentiate instruction for 40 students. Perhaps most importantly, Mathieu is a digital education teacher and mentor/coach for the Hawk Media Productions, a program at Kealakehe Intermediate School on Hawaiʻi Island. His impact on kids over the past decade is simply…staggering. This is a particularly wonderful interview for me because last season Mathieu’s Hawk Media students, Mei Kanada and Marlon Utrera chief among them, did all the post production editing and voice overs for this series. In fact, towards the end of this episode you will hear Mei Kanada talk about what it meant to be our project manager and chief editor. Mei and Uncle Josh, we became a team and I am a better person for it. As always, this season’s post production is by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. To learn more about Daniel visit his Facebook page. Stay safe, wear your masks and please, give us a rating at your favorite podcast store.
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. She and I got our graduate degrees about the same time, in the late 90s. Over the years she has been a tremendous supporter of my @MLTSinHawaii “movement,” at film screenings, event design sessions and professional development workshops. So it is with great pleasure that I present Danielle here, today as my second season’s 6th podcast guest. Over these 90 minutes we ranged through teacher capacity building, the best of service-learning, a chapter she wrote for a recently published book from the Ahimsa Center (see her photo) and the promises we should be making to our public, private and charter school kids. And much more. If you enjoy this episode, please give us a rating and review at your favorite podcast platform. Here is more info on Danielle. Danielle Mizuta, MEd, taught special education in the Hawaii State Department of Education for 13 years. She has taught and co-taught in fully self-contained, resource, and inclusion classrooms in elementary and high school settings. Danielle earned two Masters in Education degrees from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Educational Foundations in 2004, and in Special Education and Teaching in 2007. She served as a State Level, Lead Mentor for the Hawaii DOE mentoring beginning teachers new to the profession in their first to third years. She also supported complex area Induction Coordinators with their mentors, mentor forums, and beginning teacher PLCs (Professional Learning Communities). Danielle also trained master teachers in mentoring skills to support new teachers at their schools in instructional mentoring, coaching and observation and analyzing student work. Additionally, Danielle completed a term as a Hawaii Hope Street Fellow and Regional Teacher Fellow Coach with Hope Street Hawaii. Currently she serves as an Instructor for Leeward Community College and a Learning Support Specialist at Punahou School, supporting faculty, staff, and families of students with learning differences. As always, our original theme music and episode post-production is by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. To learn more about Daniel’s work, explore his Facebook page. Take care, wear your masks, maintain social distancing and be kind to one another!
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? It’s the School for Examining the Essential Questions of Sustainability, a secondary public charter school in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi founded in 2013. It currently serves approximately 180 students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades (though its charter calls for the eventual creation of a high school). SEEQS offers a community-focused, interdisciplinary project-based, tuition-free secondary school experience for Oahu families. This episode is different than any that come before. I decided to use Buffy’s resume and record of accomplishments to build questions that would help the two of us examine the genome, the DNA of her school. The result is not a deep dive into the weeds, but a marvelous hot air balloon trip to 30,000 feet above our object, with strands of SEEQS DNA floating around us like lovely clouds. More on Buffy: In 2010-2011 Buffy was honored with an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship. She served her fellowship year at the National Science Foundation’s Office of Legislative and Public Affairs. Buffy completed her Masters in School Leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in May 2012. She has been a strong and clear voice for education redesign in Hawaii. She is a member of the Hawai’i Innovative Leadership Network and a mentor to other public, private and charter school leaders in this state. Ted Dintersmith once said, on live TV, that he could have filmed his acclaimed documentary, Most Likely to Succeed at SEEQS, which is the ultimate compliment. – As always in this 2nd season, our theme music and post production editing was provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. To learn more about Daniel, or to hire him for your next music gig, check out his Facebook page. I hope you enjoy this conversation! If you do, please give us a rating and review in your podcast store.
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. He was the lead coordinator for a water conservation project in Hawai’i and has been a curriculum resource teacher with an emphasis on technology integration. (Catch this article in the Punahou Bulletin to know more about ways Dan thinks “beyond the classroom.”) A number of my colleagues have mentioned Dan’s seminal presentation on student stress at the 2019 Schools of the Future Conference. Most of all, what you get from reviewing Dan’s body of work so far is that he cares deeply about kids and learning. There is no doubt that he has a growth mindset and is continually developing his teaching practice. In this interview Dan and I talked about inch deep and a mile wide, vs. posthole learning. We talked about student travel and his own trip to Samoa as part of the Malama Honua voyages. We went deep into capstone projects, design thinking, competency-based learning and what it takes to build communities of practice. It was a marvelous conversation. If you like it, please give us a rating and review at your podcast store! As always, this episode was edited by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Find out more about Daniel at his Facebook page. This series is funded by Ted Dintersmith, the author of the bestselling book, What School Could Be.
“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. What followed was a wild and crazy ride that resulted in her students doing a deep dive into education, carrying out a double, evening community screening of MLTS (these 9th graders facilitated the post film table discussions) on campus, and proposing, as their semester projects, new courses for the Le Jardin course catalogue. Four years later, Christina is my interview guest! How cool is that? I am super stoked about this interview. Christina and I cover some serious ground in our quest to dive deeper into what school could be. She is a Teach for America graduate who first taught at the Isobel Rooney public school in the Bronx. She moved to Hawaii in 2005 and joined the faculty at Le Jardin Academy, a medium sized independent school on the Windward Side of the island of Oahu. Today at Le Jardin she is the Dean of Experiential Education and Community Partnerships. In her words, she takes kids into the forest and leads Socratic seminars on all types of subjects. Christina is also the Executive Director of the Wild Community Foundation. More on that towards the end of the episode. Finally, during the initial Covid-19 lockdown on Oahu Christina spearheaded a campus and community initiative to use 3D printers to make filtration masks, and sewing circles to make fabric face masks. As much as anyone I know Christina Hoe’s world is centered on unleashing the potential in all children. She knows, for sure, the purpose of education, teaching and learning. This episode was edited by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Daniel also provided the original theme music. To contact Daniel, navigate to his DG Sound Creations Facebook page. If you like this episode, or this series, please give us a rating and review at your favorite podcast store. Take care, be safe, wear your masks, be kind to each other.
Hey everyone, this is the What School Could Be in Hawaii podcast. I am your host, Josh Reppun. From time to time it is my intention to highlight educator voices as they pop up across media platforms in Hawaiʻi. Whether these voices come to my attention in a blog, guest posts on Civil Beat online, op-ed columns in the local paper or on specialized Facebook pages, we want to highlight them using our podcast platform. These amazing public, private and charter school educators will read their written words out loud, that you might hear and feel them in the way they were intended. On August 16th, here in 2020, the Honolulu Star Advertiser published an op-ed column by Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School’s Matthew Tom, a long time friend of this podcast and epic education networking agent. Matthew is the Faculty Advisor for Stevenson’s media service organization, which specializes in event photography and producing digital media content for the school. Matthew’s program seeks to build and maintain a positive campus culture, excite students about photography and videography, and build student skills in digital media production. Matthew is also the faculty advisor for Tusitala, which is the Literary and Arts Magazine at Stevenson recently recognized by the National Council of Teachers of English as “excellent.” Tusitala means “the teller of tales” in Samoan and is the name Samoans gave to Robert Louis Stevenson when he traveled there. He has taught or been an edtech specialist in Hawaii, Japan and Washington. Matthew’s undergraduate in English is from Willamette University, he has a masters in curriculum and teaching from the University of Oregon and is currently in a professional practice doctoral program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Matthew’s teacher website is an absolute wonderland of student exhibitions of learning and imaginative curriculums. You can learn more about him at his LinkedIn page, which I am featuring in these show notes. And now, here is Matthew Tom reading his Honolulu Star Advertiser op-ed titled: “Much chaos and change bring us right here: the perfect place to start the school year.”
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”) In so many ways, Percy’s stanza captures what Lory thinks, what she feels and how she approaches each day with her family, her faculty colleagues and her student learners. On several occasions Lory has described herself as “doing things I didn’t know I couldn’t do.” Amen, Lory! Lory’s journey, in this episode, starts with the Pease Corps in Uzbekistan, moves to Tonga, then to Boston and ultimately to Hawaiʻi. Along the way her focus is relentlessly on kids. She has taught 4th and 5th grade in Honolulu and in Taiwan. Her undergraduate degree, from the University of Colorado, is in the arts and psychology. She has a masters in elementary education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she earned a 4.0 GPA. While at the University of Colorado she did an exchange program in Ghana, West Africa. Lory has lived and worked on multiple continents. Her worldview is expansive and she has great range. Lory is an advocate for teachers as writers, and has written extensively on life and learning for Honolulu Civil Beat, Medium, Education Week and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She is a distance swimmer and runner, and loves to travel. Most of all, Lory is hugely respected in public, private and charter school circles in Hawaii. Her voice is clear and strong. She is #publicschoolproud and a leading light for whole child instruction. (Post production and original theme music provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Creations. To learn more about Daniel’s work, or if you are interested in hiring him for your next music gig, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or navigate to his Facebook page.)
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. Matthew is the Director of Sustainability Initiatives for all 10 campus of the University of Hawaiʻi system. Four years ago we met at a special Ted Dintersmith-hosted gathering at PBS Hawaiʻi. At the time I recall Matthew telling me, to my utter astonishment, that the UH systems had no sustainability degree. In Hawaiʻi? What? Matthew’s job at the time partially included helping students cobble together classes that might result in the perception of sustainability expertise. Since then, wow!, Matthew has come along way and accomplished so much. To know the details of his journey you will need to listen to the episode! Over 90 minutes Matthew and I covered a range of topics, including ways Covid-19 will profoundly change living, and learning at every level. Matthew also serves as the President of the Board of Directors at Kahumana Organic Farm, and as Sustainability Measures Co-Chair on the Board of Directors for Hawaii Green Growth, which is a public-private partnership. The Office of Sustainability at the University of Hawaiʻi functions as a backbone organization, working across UH campuses to complement, support and enhance the incredible sustainability work that has been emerging over the past decade. Matthew’s office provides coordination capacity for campuses to share information and resources with each other and accelerate action to strengthen the environmental, social, cultural and economic health of our islands’ communities. To learn more about Matthew’s work, click on the University’s website. Post production for the What School Could Be in Hawaiʻi podcast is provided by Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Daniel is also the musical director for our episodes. His original music creations are sprinkled throughout the episode timeline. To learn more about Daniel’s work, or to hire him for your next music gig, email him at DGcreations808@Gmail.com, or visit his Facebook page.
Daniella Lopez White is a graduating senior, Class of 2020, at James Campbell High School on the West Side of Oahu. She is also a member of the Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders. On December 1st, 2019, well before our Covid-19 pandemic began and before Hawaiʻi moved to distance learning, Ms. White wrote a column in the Honolulu Star Advertiser titled, More to Student Achievement than GPA. In the column Ms. White makes a compelling case that we should move beyond test scores and GPAs as the metrics of student success. When I first read the columm I immediately wondered how, beyond Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts, I could bring her voice to a wider audience. After some thinking, I figured it out. What if I could turn her written words into a special podcast episode? Could I read her words out loud and publish the “short” as an episode, then blast it to social media? In the end I lit upon the perfect solution. All during Season One of this show, listeners have been treated to the voice of Managing Editor, Mei Kanada, an 8th grader at Kealakehe Intermediate in Kona, Hawaiʻi. She opens our episodes and voices the closing credits. Mei, who is about to “graduate” into high school, agreed to voice Ms. White’s column; I then would publish it as a Student Voice Special. No frills, no intros or closing credits, five minutes of thoughtfulness; just young Mei giving life to Ms. White’s words, intentions, thoughts and feelings. My hope is that now that we have passed 12,000 downloads in 36 countries, regular listeners will be eager to hear a short burst of student voice. To read Ms. White’s full column, click here.
(Today, May 3rd, 2020 is Mei Kanada’s birthday. Mei, an 8th grader, is the Manager at Hawk Media Productions. She is also the editor of this episode, the last regular episode of this season and of her year at the helm of Hawk Media. Happy Birthday, Mei, and thank you for all your hard work! You are amazing!) And now, back to the show. 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. Heather came on my radar screen more than a year ago when she reached out to talk about rethinking “progress reports.” I suffered through some pretty cruel progress reports some 55 years ago in elementary school, so I was immediately thinking I wanted Heather on this podcast. Over more than an hour’s interview Heather and I ranged across topics related to blended learning, differentiated instruction, distance learning in the time of Covid-19, teaching the “whole child” and team building at the elementary level. Throughout the conversation Heather presented as a kind, compassionate and passionate student guide, coach and mentor. What a wonderful way to end Season One. In her resume she describes herself as “An experienced teacher who approaches education with a blend of creativity, connection, and communication. Heather blends these essential elements with data driven instruction to support her student’s success with project based learning. An integration of student choice projects and a cultivation of self awareness while learning and growing is what Mrs. Baylosis is all about!” Heather has a Bachelor of Science from State University of New York in Elementary Education with a concentration in early childhood and dance. She also has a Masters of Education, Reading and Literacy from Walden University in Minnesota. For more on Hawaiʻi Technology Academy, click here. As I get ready to hit the publish button, dear listeners, as Season One closes out we are at 11,780 downloads in 36 countries. Thank you!
From the very first minutes of this episode you will know for sure that Robyn Vierra loves being around kids. A Punahou parent told me Dr. Vierra is, and I quote, Truly the best teacher my kids have ever had. She is innovative, thoughtful and brilliant. She allows kids to run with their passions and is an inspiration. In one of my longer episodes Robyn, 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. From Sea of Islands Consulting we learn: “Born and raised in Hawaiʻi, Dr. Vierra left the islands to earn a BA from Claremont McKenna College and to join Teach For America’s ’03 LA Corps. During her placement, she taught 8th grade history while also earning an MA in Education from Loyola Marymount University. In 2008, Dr. Vierra earned an Advanced Literacy Certificate from Hamline University and transitioned to the elementary classroom. [Dr. Vierra] has a deep understanding of cross-cultural issues in education. She has been part of numerous task forces involving strategic planning, teacher evaluation, faculty council, teacher advisory, and WASC accreditation. She received her Doctorate in Education from the University of Minnesota in Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Her dissertation looked at “Critical Thinking Assessment: The relationship with academic achievement and demographic factors.” Her research interests are critical thinking assessment and instruction, service learning, and cross-cultural education. She consults on learning theory, instruction and delivery, data driven instruction, and action research. Dr. Vierra enjoys living in Hawaiʻi with her husband and two children.” Robyn is also the Associate Director of the Wo International Center at Punahou School. If you love this episode, please give it a rating in Apple Podcasts. The audio engineer for this episode was Thunder Studios Hawaii’s Daniel Gilad. The editor for this episode is Hawk Media’s Mei Kanada.
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!