In caring for our children, many have heard the saying, “It takes a village.” That saying holds true in public education, where community partners support Hawaii’s commitment to developing young minds through grants and projects that enrich the learning environment.
Tammi Chun, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent of the Office of Strategy, Innovation, and Performance, says community engagement is essential in moving learning initiatives forward.
“One way that the community engages is through partnerships that provide resources for our students. The generosity of our community partners benefits our students tremendously,” said Chun. “The public-private partnerships provide our students with additional opportunities to enrich their learning.”
Here’s a peek into how partners have made a positive impact in our schools.
- In the Central District, Moanalua High received $30,000 from Korean Consulate to begin a Korean Language class, with the Korean Library Foundation pledging an additional $2,000 yearly in books to support the Korean language classes.
In the Honolulu District, the Monsanto Fund's gift of $20,000 will enable the continuance of the annual SPARKLE (Solving Problems and Reaching for Knowledge Learning Environment), previously known as the Oahu STEM Project. The Oahu In-STEP Science Show, the Honolulu District Science and Engineering Fair, and the SPARK Academy are supported by these funds.
"These STEM projects and programs not only supplement classroom learning, it inspires students to grow their skills outside of the classroom and in that process inspire others," said Donna Lum Kagawa, Complex Area Superintendent, Farrington-Kaiser-Kalani. "The goal is to have these students pursue STEM fields here in Hawaii and become our future problem solvers."
In the Leeward District, Waipahu High benefited from the gifts of two foundations, the McInerny Foundation for Early College providing $256,000 per year (for three years) and the Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation with $19,000.
- The McInerny gift is supporting students who take pre-college credit courses. For the CLass of 2015, this meant 162 students amassed between three and 24 college credits each, and earned membership in the Phi Theta Kappa COLLEGIATE National Honor Society. Separately, the work of these students resulted in merit scholarships amounting to $15.2 million.
In the summer of 2015, Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation provided funding for the Science Scholars Program for ninth and tenth graders at Waipahu High. Students participated in authentic DNA research in partnership with the Waksman Student Scholars Program at Rutgers University. The resulting data will be used for scientific research and publications. Principal Keith Hayashi exclaimed, “Imagine the work these kids will be doing when they're seniors!”
In the Kauai district, schools received enthusiastic support from the Rotary Club of Hanalei (RCHB). The Adopt a Classroom, iPads4iPads, Adopt an After-School club, and Literacy projects provided additional resources for Kauai’s children. The Adopt a Classroom program provided 37 elementary classrooms with funds for supplies and field trips that totaled $25,900. Raising $60,000, RCHB’s iPads4iPads program provided 90 iPads to students and iPad tutorials for teachers. RCBH raised $36,000 in funds to begin a new program, Adopt an After-School Club, that provided 4,000 hours of mentored activities for at-risk students. Each year the Literacy project gives a gift of two age-appropriate books for students of Kilauea, Hanalei and St. Catherine schools. Sherry Gonsalves, principal of Kilauea school praises RCHB for their “tremendous community support (that) we have received from the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay on the North Shore of Kauai.”
In the Leeward district, schools have received $30,000 from community partners, Haseko, Gentry, Hunt, Chevron, and the Hawaii Community Foundation (HCF) to support STEM activities through the Project Leads the Way (PLTW). The PLTW curriculum of activities and projects for grades K-12 encourages problem-solving and independent learning.
From the Big Island to Kauai, 70 K-12 schools received the gift of 2,691 SD cards from Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. The schools welcomed this generous gift of $20,855.25 that was used for digital media and video production programs and archiving.
Investing in schools also includes providing professional development for educators. Kamehameha Schools, Castle Foundation and the University of Hawaii College of Education are strong partners in this area.
Community partners add vitality to the statewide public school education with creative solutions and generous financial support. Their assistance strengthens schools’ ability to provide students with a multi-dimensional approach to learning. In doing so, partnerships are also resulting in stronger communities for future generations.