Leadership program for young men to be launched at LIS
LAHAINA – The Island Gents-Gentlemen By Choice (IG-GBC) curriculum is a proven success on the West Side.
As a matter of fact, the GBC Community Development Corp. nonprofit has been on the fast track since it was founded on the Mainland in 2013, with multi-chapters now installed in Nevada, Washington and Hawaii.
Its co-founder, Richard Jack, a transplant from Las Vegas, landed on Maui in 2015, joining the Princess Nahi’ena’ena Elementary School staff as one of its two counselors. With the support of then-principal Lynn Kahoohalahala, the first on-island IG-GBC course opened its doors on campus that same year.
A retired Air Force man on a mission, Jack had goals – to see chapters installed at schools from the top of Lahainaluna Road down to Front Street.
It didn’t take long for the concept to catch on and progress up the hill to Lahainaluna High School, offering the boarders a seven-week leadership development course at the start of the school year in 2017.
Not a person to rest on his laurels or anything, Jack’s vision is all-inclusive, and the Island Gents program has expanded to Lahaina Intermediate School with lessons commencing Feb. 22 for 12 weeks on Thursdays from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
The course, open to 25 middle school age young men, focuses on Leadership, Image, Financial Management and Etiquette (L.I.F.E.) training.
According to the GBC website (“mailto:email@example.com”>firstname.lastname@example.org), “These basic L.I.F.E. skills are essential for proper growth and development and are aligned with the organization’s ‘classroom to boardroom’ philosophy.”
“The premise of the program is that you have to set the example of what you want these students to become by being professional gentlemen,” Jack explained.
To this end, volunteers from the community join Jack in the classroom as experts in their fields.
Born on Oahu, Brandon J. Maeda has served as The Westin Complex director of food & beverage for the past three-and-a-half years. He is an Island Gent mentor, and The Westin is a benefactor.
He is a devoted advocate of Jack’s mission along with his philanthropic employer.
“This program allows professionals in the community to connect with our local youth at a critical age when we can make a lasting impression on their future. We hope to serve as positive role models for them and instill values and skills that will help them to be successful contributing members of the community as they grow in to young adults.”
“I assist,” Maeda continued, “with speaking to the students about dining etiquette and other developmental topics, and we host a lunch at The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas and The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas for the students to practice their etiquette skills and training.”
Lee Otaguro is director of human resources at the Sheraton Maui.
“Sheraton Maui,” Otaguro said, “hosts the annual Black Tie Gala for the GBC program at the end of each year. Sheraton Maui has also sent guest speakers to speak to the gentlemen in the program about various topics, including leadership, accountability and attitude.”
“I think any school for any grade level would benefit from this program,” Otaguro observed. “Unfortunately, there aren’t enough people like Mr. Richard Jack to go around. I’ve seen Mr. Richard Jack have a tremendous impact on kids ranging from fourth grade through high school. He truly has an impact that you can clearly see. I think Lahaina Intermediate is incredibly fortunate to have this program at their school.”
Otaguro is not only a mentor-speaker-favorite fan – he also serves on the GBC Maui Chapter Advisory Board along with Maeda; Jeri Dean, Lahainaluna High School vice principal; Annette Davis, Kaanapali Ocean Resorts Complex human resources director; Lei Gonzales, human resources director the Hyatt Regency Maui; and Angie Berkey, Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua human resources director.
Jack’s peers also support the enrichment training.
Lindsay Ball is the Department of Education complex area superintendent for Hana, Lahaina, Lanai and Molokai.
“Gentlemen by Choice after school program at LIS will allow students to be exposed to positive roles,” Ball said. “Gentlemen by Choice is a good character education, helping students understand their responsibilities, how to conduct themselves in appropriate ways to interact with others.”
LIS Principal Stacy Bookland is of like mind: “Students that are selected for this program will have the opportunity to experience much more than the academic education. They will have the opportunity to improve self-image and work with positive role models in our own backyard. They will get a taste of financial management and etiquette skills. This program provides valuable life skills to help set our Lahaina keiki up for success.”
Bookland was more specific.
“I believe in this program, because I have witnessed firsthand the positive effects with the young men and women. Those students who had the opportunity at Princess Nahi’ena’ena Elementary School are now our Sons and Daughters (LIS vision statement).”
“Middle school students,” Bookland added, “are experiencing their second largest growth spurt. They are learning who they are and (what they) want to become as adults, so this is the key time to offer such a program.”
Otaguro left the Lahaina News with this impression, a quote from W. Hodding Carter II, a Pulitzer Prize winner born in 1907: “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other, wings.”
With the support from the IG-GBC opportunity, educators, mentors, community members and local businesses, our keiki have been given a flying start.
Jack is seeking like-minded, community-driven support. He has dreams: “I would like to see this program grow from the high school all the way down to King Kamehameha III Elementary School.”
“In addition to people visiting our Facebook page ‘Island Ladies/Gentlemen,’ they can also reach me directly at Richard.Jack@gentlemenbychoice.org,” he concluded.