Like many who keep a pulse on all things education, I’m aware of the educational
growth that has taken place in Hawaii and recently saw first-hand what’s taking place
at the school level.
As president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, I travel throughout the United States and abroad. The purpose of my recent visit to Hawaii was to participate in the National Distinguished Principals celebration held on April 24
where we honored some of the best administrators in the state; I also had
incorporated time to visit schools.
Educators here are making well-informed decisions benefitting the children and
families they serve.
I spent time at three Oahu schools where support for the whole child and community
engagement was evident. There is shared leadership at these schools with teachers
collaborating in professional learning communities creating a student-centered, data-driven
>> At Nanakuli Elementary School, I was impressed with the welcoming climate and
culture of the school. Children and adults greeted us with smiles and often times a
This school includes a Hawaiian Immersion program, strong parent involvement, STEM
(Science, Tech-nology, Engineering and Math) programs, and quality classroom
instruction supported by an administrative team that is trusted and valued by the
Nanakuli Elementary is also one of the public schools that has a preschool to provide
the youngest, most at-risk learners in the neighborhood a chance to be well prepared
for kindergarten. Early learning is vital to a child’s educational path and I was pleased
to see the priority given to this area.
>> I observed how Kalihi Uka Elementary School is tackling the challenges of having a
large English Language Learner population.
Walking through classrooms, I saw students engaged in inquiry-based lessons and
working in cooperative groups. Teachers facilitating a science activity encouraged
rigorous conversations among the students. The classrooms were orderly and
respectful with lots of evidence of student learning. Besides STEM lessons, teachers
are incorporating the arts and literacy into many of the activities advancing them to
the STEAM category.
>> College readiness, professional development and project-based learning are at the
core of Stevenson Middle School.
It has many students participating in advanced programs and extra-curricular activities
that afford them the opportunity for leadership and career exploration. The daily
schedule at this school affords students an advisory period to meet with adult
Additionally, the campus was friendly, safe and clean — evidence that students and
staff care about and support the school and each other.
It was a pleasure to share ideas with the outstanding leaders here and see firsthand
excellence at the school level by principals and teachers.
Over the past several years, the schools in Hawaii have made great gains in student
performance measures and are being recognized nationally as a state demonstrating,
“What’s Right in Education!”
The principals and teacher leaders are working hard daily to provide rich learning
opportunities enlisting research based best practices in the field. It is clear that
supporting teacher professional growth and learning is a priority. The principals at the
schools I visited are frequent visitors to classrooms and work with teachers in a
reflective manner when discussing their performance.
The skills I witnessed were also the shared qualities among all of Hawaii’s 2016
National Distinguished Principal nominees.
Hawaii educational leaders understand the bene 밄t of working with partners like the
university system to o 洅er quality teacher and principal preparation programs with
induction, mentoring and professional development as they enter the education
I congratulate Hawaii for its education accomplishments and for setting an example.