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Teachers learn to communicate with students through visionary Kahua program

By Staff | May 12, 2011

Liane Otani-Nakagawa (left), Walter Kahumoku III and Lori Gomez-Karinen are involved with Kahua on Maui. From the state Department of Education, Otani-Nakagawa and Gomez-Karinen were facilitators of the Kahua program, and Kahumoku, the community education representative of Kamehameha Schools, is also a Kahua leader.

LAHAINA — The visionary directive of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop to endow the education of the children of Hawaii through her family estate remains a most significant and influential decision to this day.

That noble resolve has reached the new millennium all across the State of Hawaii and now embraces our community in Maui with Kahua, an innovative program founded through the principles of Pauahi Bishop and forwarded through the Kamehameha Schools system.

With this school year’s addition of the Lahaina Canoe Complex to the program, the Department of Education (DOE) districts now enrolled in the effort number seven of the 15 areas.

According to Walter Kahumoku III, Ph.D., of the Kamehameha Schools Community Education Department, the Kahua program was founded three years ago on the Big Island as a result of growing losses in public school teachers.

“The teachers were leaving in droves,” said Kahumoku last week at the Kahua Lahaina Ho’ike at the West Maui Senior Center. “There was a lack of communication between the teachers and the students.”

“The teachers were not learning the craft of teaching here (in Hawaii),” continued Kahumoku. “The Kahua program began as a pilot effort with 36 teachers on the Big Island learning the importance of the culture there. Through Kahua, they were acclimated to the culture and learned new communication skills.”

Kahumoku added that the Canoe Complex — Lahaina, Molokai and Hana — was the new area for the Kahua program this year.

“It is a partnership between the DOE and Kamehameha Schools and the community. It is a hands-on collaboration of all folks who have an interest in schools. We try to bring in a community person to make contact and establish the mission statement of Kahua’s three guidelines. First, relationships, or ikepilina; second, understanding of place, ike honua; and third, investing in personal relationships, ike pikou.”

That liaison for the Canoe District was Noe Akima, who headed up the community representatives asked to pass their knowledge of the culture on to the Lahaina Kahua participants.

They included Kapili Akima and the Akima ‘Ohana, Roseline Asio, Stacey Shibao, Abcde Shibao and Florence Makekau.

The teachers from the Canoe Complex that reaped the benefits of the inaugural Kahua effort on Maui included Andrew Kulani Akahi, Flaviana Ancheta, Jeremy Delos Reyes, Cassandra Distelhorst-Coonradt, Pamela Gaborski, Anthony Griffiths, Alison Howland, Carol Jung, Chris Kaaikala, Lynn Kaho’ohalahala, Lori Kaufman, Kasey Kaya, Wendy Keanini, Tonya Ui Kuaana, Nicole McCombs, Eileen Medvec, Barbie Otomo, Karen Pascual, Dorisa Pelletier, Tracy Poouahi, Keola Rogat, Jessica Kailani Ross, Marilyn Teri Simms, Nancy Young and Stephanie Young.

The core team planning members for the program included the Akima family from the Lahaina community; Lindsay Ball, Canoe Complex superintendent; Maile Getzen, Lori Gomez-Karinen, Marilyn Nomura and Liane Otani-Nakagawa from the DOE; and Kamuela Binkie, Walter Kahumoku III, Ku’ualohanui Kauli’a, Aaron Mersberg, Donna Mills and Colleen Robinson from Kamehameha Schools.

This entire team acknowledged and sent their mahalo to all of the individuals and organizations that supported the Kahua program throughout the year in the delivery of orientations, seminars and ho’ike.

They included King Kamehameha III Elementary Principal Steve Franz; Princess Nahi’ena’ena Principal Lynn Kaho’ohalahala; Lahaina Intermediate School Principal Marsha Nakamura; Lahainaluna High School Principal Emily DeCosta; Kolea Alcomandras from Lahaina Cannery Mall; School Renewal Specialist Melanie Coates; Mike White, Tom Fairbanks and Malihini Keahi-Heath of Kaanapali Beach Hotel; the Hawaii State Teachers Association; Lahaina Canoe Club; Na Kamali’i O Ke Akua; Akima ‘Ohana; Lahainaluna Librarian Sharyl Seino; Stacey Shibao from the West Maui Senior Center; Lauren Kang and Kerri Aotake from ‘Ulalena; Akina Bus Service; Trudy Yip-Onaga of the DOE; Kekai and Na’o Ah Puck; and community and academic mentors. Malama pono!