Lahainaluna leaders share strong connections to the historic school
LAHAINA — Lahainaluna High School is a pathway to the future connected by tradition from one generation to the next.
This year is no different; two alumni are top administrators — Principal Jeri Dean and Vice Principal Ilima Greig-Hong. Both graduated in the Class of 1988, and it’s no mistake what led them to their current leadership positions.
Dean is living a lifelong dream inspired by two of her teachers at King Kamehameha III Elementary School.
“I wanted to be just like them. I wanted to love and teach and help children the way they did for me,” she told the Lahaina News in an interview earlier this year.
She attended Brigham Young-Hawaii and received degrees in psychology and elementary education.
At Princess Nahi’ena’ena Elementary School, she served in “basically every position that’s available at the school for 22 years,” she continued.
Seeking additional learning opportunities, four years ago, she enrolled in the State of Hawaii Administration Certification Program, earning a Master’s in Administration.
She was first placed at Lahainaluna as vice principal three years ago. Her official role as principal commenced in January 2021.
Dean is following in the footsteps of her parents; Grace Dean and the late Paul Dean are both well-known West Side leaders and volunteers
Her father was the scoutmaster of Boy Scouts of America Troop 79 of Lahaina, and her mother raised the family’s six children. Classes for the 1,081 students at Lahainaluna commenced the first week of August.
Quite understandably, the principal advised, “I have been so extremely busy. We have a lot of new things happening at Lahainaluna… It’s so exciting. We are still in the infant stages, but when things quiet down, I’d love the opportunity to share.”
Vice Principal Ilima Greig-Hong is similarly inspired by the opening of the 2021-22 academic year.
Her connection to the history of Lahainaluna is immersed in professional experience and tradition.
“It has always been my dream to return to Lahainaluna and assist in some way. My goal as an administrator is to help our students to believe in themselves, appreciate where they come from and reach their fullest potential,” she explained.
Education runs in her veins.
Her mom is Josephine Cosma Greig Blair, a 1960 graduate of Lahainaluna.
“She was a beloved teacher at King Kamehameha III Elementary School. My grandmother, Annie Greig, also taught at Kam III for many years (and was) loved and revered by many children of Lahaina,” she said.
Her father, the late Jimmie Greig, was a football coach at Lahainaluna. The Lahainaluna gym is named after him.
His contributions were cultural and lasting.
“With Principal Ralph Murakami,” Greig-Hong recounted, “they both started the Boarders’ Chorus and the Hawaiiana Club. The Boarders’ Chorus and the Hawaiiana Club staged the first David Malo Day. For the past 50 years, Lori Gomez-Karinen, my Godmother, has continued their legacy as Hawaiiana Club advisor.
“I have been co-advisor since 2010… I have a special place in my heart for the boarding program and students,” she said.
She recalls as a child sitting in the old cafeteria while her father strummed his guitar, singing with the boarder men.
Her husband, Danton Hong, works at Kapalua Maintenance and Facilities. Hong has served as the Lahaina Girls’ Softball coach for the past ten years and is presently the Lahainaluna head baseball coach.
Greig-Hong is committed.
“I believe Lahainaluna stands upon three pillars — tradition, community and culture. I try to conduct myself as an educator and community member with those three values: respecting the rich history, serving my community and perpetuating the culture,” she concluded.