About 130 high school students who are considering a career in teaching gathered at the University of Hawaiʻi - West Oʻahu Friday for the inaugural “Dive into Education” conference hosted by Pearl City High School.
Students from Campbell, Kapolei, Farrington, Leilehua, Nānākuli, Pearl City, and Waipahu High schools came together to mingle with like-minded peers, get inspired about teaching and learn more about what it takes to enter the field.
“I wasn’t expecting this many people. It was kinda crazy to see all the other people who were teachers or want to be teachers,” said Leilehua junior Ryiane Lei Pascua. Pascua’s inspiration to pursue a teaching career comes from her mom, who used to teach in the Philippines, as well as one of her elementary school teachers.
The event kicked off with breakfast and a college fair followed by a keynote address from Hawai’i Education Association President Joan Kamila Lewis.
“Do not try to be a hero,” she told the students. “Be a sidekick.” She encouraged students to not enter the teaching profession in hopes of becoming a “hero” for students but to instead look at serving as a strong support system, or “sidekick,” for their journeys.
“Sometimes [sidekicks] cheer you on, sometimes it’s to give you a reality check, sometimes it’s just to be there,” said Lewis, who is also a teacher at Kapolei High School with 35 years of experience. “The best sidekicks are always there with you.”
The event also included a panel with seven Hawaiʻi public school alumni who are majoring in education at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Hawaiʻi Pacific University, Chaminade and UH West O‘ahu. The college students shared about their post-high school experiences and why they decided to go into teaching. After the panel, they raffled off prizes from their respective schools including college swag, an Apple iPad and a $1,000 tuition scholarship for UH West O‘ahu.
Students from Pearl City High School’s Teaching as a Profession program hosted the first-ever conference with support from the Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association, Hawaiʻi Education Association and Educators Rising and hope to make it an annual event.
“I just want to inspire other people, like how my high school teachers inspired me, and get the future going because these students coming up are our future and I want it to be bright,” said Pearl City High School senior Arisa Yazaki who helped to co-chair the event. Yazaki is considering becoming a high school teacher or elementary school teacher and plans to stay in Hawaiʻi for college.
The Teaching as a Profession program is one of the pathways in Pearl City High’s Academy of Culinary Arts, Health Sciences and Leadership. The school has three college and career academies designed to prepare students for post-secondary education and the workforce by providing hands-on learning opportunities, industry-specific curriculum and connections to industry professionals.
“It’s really about encouraging the kids to consider education as well as equipping them for what it’s going to look like in the future and their pathways,” said Pearl City High Principal Joseph Halfmann. “It’s key to have our students be a part of a program like this, to stay in Hawaiʻi and teach the future generation. They really are going to be the problem solvers and part of the solutions for the future as well.”