Hanahau‘oli School

A Century of Lifelong, Joyful Learning

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Photo: Courtesy of Hanahau‘oli School.

Lia Woo
Lia Woo
Head of School

Visit Hanahau‘oli’s green and lush campus and you will hear and see joyous work—children collaborating, playing, imagining, building and wondering. This is because the Junior Kindergarten through 6th grade school recognizes and celebrates childhood as its own distinct and important life stage and honors the natural way children learn—through play. “At Hanahau‘oli, children experience a childhood, brimming with play, experiential learning, authentic experiences and intimate relationships at a pace that supports growth through deep reflection and inquiry,” says Head of School Lia Woo, a Hanahau‘oli graduate herself.

Meaning “happy work” in Hawaiian, Hanahau‘oli offers families a carefully designed and developmentally-appropriate learning environment, grounded in research on child development. Key to this joyous work is deep and caring relationships among children, teachers, staff and families. “Our close-knit community ensures every child is known and valued for their uniqueness,” says Woo. “As a progressive education school, children take active leadership roles in the running of the school, teaching them from the earliest age the value of interdependence and community.”

Multi-age learning in combined classrooms meets children where they are—both cognitively and socially. Designed in a two-year cycle, the curriculum gives students, and parents, an opportunity to develop longer lasting relationships with the teachers who support them. “Our excellent and knowledgeable teachers, who stay current on best practices, work to provide opportunities for students to lead, follow, collaborate and express autonomy,” says Woo.

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Photo: Courtesy of Hanahau‘oli School.

Hanahau‘oli’s educational program includes an integrated curriculum with full-time specialist teachers in visual art, Physical World Lab (shop), music, orchestra/band, physical education, Mandarin, Hawaiian culture and library studies. Valued as an essential part of a child’s learning and growth at Hanahau‘oli, the arts offer self-expression while also nurturing in children an appreciation of the value of quality. As part of its mission, Hanahau‘oli also responds to our dynamic world. For example, various classes this year integrated a study on water security and water issues in the Islands, how people’s needs are met through houseless shelters and what refugees must endure around the world.

Setting up health and safety protocols, Hanahau‘oli provides safe in-person learning for all of its students, five days a week. In addition, the school gives back to the community through its Professional Development Center for teachers and parents and through its free “The Skills We Need” summer program for Hawai‘i Department of Education elementary students negatively impacted by COVID-19. “At Hanahau’oli we harness our progressive practices and creativity so that students respond to our changing world with purpose, compassion and leadership,” reflects Woo. “Students embrace responsibility for themselves, for others, and for a better future society.”

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Photo: Courtesy of Hanahau‘oli School.

1922 Makiki Street, Honolulu, HI 96822  |  (808) 949-6461  |  Hanahauoli.org