Kamehameha Schools

Kamehameha Schools

Photos: Kamehameha Schools
Jack Wong, KS CEO
Jack Wong

“Every haumāna is nurtured and challenged to become a local and global servant leader, strong in Native Hawaiian identity and able to successfully serve their families and communities in an ever changing world,” says Kamehameha Schools CEO Jack Wong. “We have a shared vision of E Ola! (Live on!) across all three of our campuses, together with our 29 preschools statewide. Teaching and learning through Hawaiian culture-based education sets a strong foundation that is personalized and responsive for the individual context and path of each and every one of our students.”

Kamehameha Schools is Hawai‘i’s only independent school with a mission of excellence in education to raise our lāhui (native people) for a better future. Dedicated teachers, a rigorous college prep curriculum and world-class, state-of-the art campuses provide a fertile environment for students to grow their abilities to gain loina (values), ho‘omau (perseverance), and kūlia (strive), among other attributes.

Guided by principles that makes safety one of their top priorities, KS effectively developed a relevant and timely system-wide response to the recent COVID-19 crisis that demonstrated its commitment to optimizing student learning. Strict health protocols, support for personal choice for learning environments, and a focus on flexibility, enabled by the new KS Digital platform, ensured continuous learning and safe transitioning for students.

“Our learning environment is built on helping Native Hawaiian youth discover their personal potential,” says Wong of Kamehameha graduates. “To this end, we hope our culturally engaged haumāna have learned to listen, understand and use their voices to speak up for themselves, their ‘ohana and to advocate for meaningful change to our island home and to the world that needs their ‘ōiwi leadership.”

Here’s how our campuses are providing innovative learning experiences for students to connect their Hawaiian identity in today’s world.

M. Kāhealani Nae‘ole-Wong, Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i Po‘o Kula
M. Kāhealani Nae‘ole-Wong, Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i Po‘o Kula

“Through our supportive and caring kauhale—campus community— Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i is nurturing Hawaiian leaders and agents of social change,” says Kahealani Nae‘ole-Wong, Po‘o Kula of the Hawai‘i campus in Kea‘au. The campus’ ‘Ōiwi Edge identity, a strong ancestral foundation that shapes the agency, adaptability, and well-being of haumāna, gives them a competitive advantage to fulfill their passions, unique purpose and kuleana. ‘Ōiwi Edge is the pathway to reclaim and collectively advance a narrative of Native Hawaiians thriving.

KS Hawai‘i learners co-create their personal learning journeys to address real problems in our community, with empowered educators who re-imagine and redesign curriculum ensuring that haumāna are presented with rigorous challenges, relevant to modern, global environments and technologies. An example of this is at KS Hawai‘i’s Kumuola Marine Science Education Center, a loko i‘a located in the East Hawai‘i community of Keaukaha where Grade 9 Biology and AP Biology students discovered a new way to identify pua recruits at Waiāhole and Kapalaho fish ponds as native or invasive. In a partnership with the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and in collaboration with Kumuola staff, the students used genetics to investigate the evolving challenges of the loko i‘a and inform stewardship decisions. This project demonstrates the use of a learning lab ecosystem in the community to solve a relevant problem of invasive species and offering contextualized STEAM for a new generation of ‘āina-conscious leaders.

Grounded in our kauhale of Hawaiian culture, worldviews and ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i, and personalized to a unique context and path, each haumāna and ‘ohana are responsive to the needs of their community. KS Hawai‘i haumāna are aware of their history and use multiple perspectives aimed at solutions that put them on a critical path to influencing our generational and global socioeconomic and political environments.

Dr. Scott Parker, Kamehameha Schools Maui Po‘o Kula
Dr. Scott Parker, Kamehameha Schools Maui Po‘o Kula

We believe that when our haumāna are grounded in the wisdom of their kūpuna and the practices and language of our culture, they thrive in all aspects of academics—problem-solving, collaboration, innovation and creativity, global competence and more,” says Dr. Scott K. Parker, Po‘o Kula of the Maui campus. A recent campus-wide journey, involving kumu, staff and the wider learning community on Maui, identified Ku‘upau — going to the limits, pushing ourselves, constantly improving — as “the defining quality of our campus. Ku‘upau describes the spirit of innovation held by our kumu and staff, who are constantly seeking to find the best way to connect with and engage our haumāna. When we embody Ku‘upau, there is no limit to what we can accomplish,” says Parker.

Ku‘upau encompasses four important values—pilina (strong relationships), kuleana and kūlia pono (responsibility and right action), and ‘imi na‘auao (wisdom and knowledge-seeking)—in teaching and learning for the intellectual mind and the na‘au, the spiritual heart, he adds.

Haumāna in Hawaiian Ethnobotany class, for example, joined forces with the Pu‘u Kukui Watershed Partnership to learn about the importance of Hawaiian plants—how to cultivate, protect and use them wisely to ensure thriving forest ecosystems that bring rain into our watersheds. Similarly, haumāna in the popular Ho‘okele Wa‘a summer course gain time-honored seamanship skills that culminate in the Maui to Moloka‘i sail, where haumāna turn classroom study into hands-on learning through water quality testing, identifying and counting and fish, and eradicating invasive species.

KS Maui is one of only two NuVu Studio partner schools in the pae ‘āina. NuVu Studio is an innovative educational program emphasizing collaborative, project-based and multidisciplinary learning. Recently, during the Island Craft Studio, haumāna were challenged to create an imagined island and use a Hawaiian-cultural framework, incorporating architecture and urban planning, to develop sustainable communities.

Dr. Taran Chun, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Po‘o Kula
Dr. Taran Chun, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Po‘o Kula

“Our vision is to inspire our haumāna to ho‘ōla lāhui—invigorate the Hawaiian community,” says Dr. Taran Chun, Po‘o Kula of the Kapālama campus on O‘ahu. “By strengthening our students’ identity as ‘ōiwi, we are drawing out inherent ancestral connections that spark their natural abilities to be community leaders through a kanaka maoli lens.”

Recognizing the active role students can play in their own development, KS Kapālama’s keiki-centered approach is strengthened by “our ability to artfully bridge the rich traditions of our 134-year legacy with the constant pursuit of excellence motivated by our commitment to our keiki,” says Chun. Its learning environment celebrates Hawaiian culture through iconic events like the Song Contest and Ho‘olaulea, as well as its awardwinning academic, athletic and co-curricular programs.

Feeling pride in their cultural identity and strong in their academic preparedness, “our students are positioned to confidently take steps toward the future,” says Chun.

At the Hawai‘i State Science and Engineering Fair, for example, KS Kapālama students took first place honors in the Biomedical and Health Sciences category with a real-life health project on testing fabric and mask particle filtration efficacy; in Microbiology analyzing the effect of a potentially beneficial fungus on endemic, indigenous and non-native Hawai‘i plant species; and in Animal Sciences taking inventory of forest birds on the ‘Aiea Loop hiking trail.

Connecting with the community who were faced with COVID-19 restrictions, students in the KS Mural Club worked with the coordinators of the Annual Shinnyo-En Floating Lantern to create a large mural featuring various Japanese shrines to take the place of the popular Memorial Day floating lantern event at Magic Island. The mural panels painted by the art students enabled participants to safely display photos and short notes in remembrance of departed loved ones.

Kamehameha School Hawai‘i | 16-716 Volcano Road, Kea‘au | (808) 982-0000

Kamehameha School Maui | 275 ‘A‘apueo Parkway, Pukalani | (808) 572-3100

Kamehameha School Kapālama | 1887 Makuakane Street, Honolulu | (808) 842-8211

Kamehameha Schools