Three Hawaii schools to spend next two years working with celebrity artists


Celebrity artists Alfre Woodard, Jack Johnson and Jake Shimabukuro helped to launch the Turnaround Arts Hawaii in musical fashion at Kalihi Kai Elementary. Each spent time with students showing them some musical skills before performing at the student assembly. Kamaile Academy and Waianae Elementary School were also selected for the presidential program.

​​​​​​HONOLULU –Turnaround Arts Hawaii launched in musical fashion this morning at Kalihi Kai Elementary, one of the selected schools for the presidential program. The other schools are Kamaile Academy and Waianae Elementary School. 

The celebrity artists making the commitment to these schools are Jack Johnson, Jake Shimabukuro, and Alfre Woodard. Johnson and Shimabukuro spent time with students showing them some musical skills before performing at the student assembly where special guests also gathered. 

“Being exposed and working with these talented artists is a fantastic learning opportunity for the students as well as the staff,”said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “Having a variety of arts in schools can motivate students and open doors that they may not know are possibilities for them. We’re honored to have been one of the states chosen to participate in this prestigious program and look forward to its outcomes.”

Research shows that participating schools are demonstrating improved academic performance, increased student and parent engagement, and improved culture and climate.

A three-year evaluation of Turnaround Arts pilot program schools found significant improvements in academic achievement, reductions in disciplinary referrals and increases in student attendance,”said Turnaround Arts National Director Kathy Fletcher.  “We’re very excited to be launching this program in the islands at three Hawaii’s schools simultaneously.”

During the next two years, teachers at the three schools will learn how to use the arts as a tool to engage students in reading, writing, and math. Teachers will be learning drama strategies and visual thinking strategies, integrating these strategies into their core curriculum to engage students, invigorate learning, and build classroom community. Arts integration is an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process, which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both.

Turnaround Arts continues to successfully help turn around low-performing schools, narrow the achievement gap and increase student engagement through the arts. Turnaround Arts now reaches over 22,000 of the country's highest-needs students in 49 schools in 14 states and the District of Columbia.

On average, Turnaround Arts schools showed a 23 percent improvement in math proficiency and a 13 percent increase in reading proficiency over three years, as well as showing reductions of up to 86 percent in student disciplinary issues and sharply increased attendance. Learn more about Turnaround Arts by visiting ​

Contact Information

Donalyn Dela Cruz

Phone: 808-586-3232


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