Ho‘oha‘aheo Newsletter, Jan. 4


Our monthly online publication to highlight bright spots from across the public school system. This week's issue includes professional New Year's resolutions from staff and a highlight on the BOE strategic plan survey.

Jan. 4

Editorial Mission: As the Department's primary publication, we aim to live up to the meaning of ha‘aheo – to cherish with pride – by bolstering and sustaining pride in public education and touting the successes happening across our system.

Happy New Year! This time of year often signifies new beginnings and a fresh start. It's also an opportune time to reflect on and celebrate accomplishments while setting goals for the year ahead.

As we reach the mid-way point of this school year and enter second semester, I want to acknowledge the hard work of our entire system in getting us to this point.

It was so encouraging to see that in the first full school year of in-person learning following the pandemic, our students showed gains across core subjects and other key indicators on our Strive HI results. Our students' proficiency level on Smarter Balanced English language arts was the highest among 10 states reporting 2021-22 scores, and was near the highest-performing states in mathematics.

These gains were further validated by the latest results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), or "Nation’s Report Card," which showed our fourth-graders outperformed their peers in reading and math amid national pandemic learning declines.

This achievement is to the credit of our resilient students and dedicated educators. A lot more work lies in the journey ahead, but I’m confident we can maintain this positive trajectory. We have about 90 school days left in the 2022-23 school year. Let's continue working together – ne‘epapa – to make the best possible impact for students. Here's to wishing you all the very best for a happy, healthy and successful 2023!



We asked some special guests from the Campbell-Kapolei complex area to complete the prompt below.

“What is your professional New Year’s resolution?”

" My professional New Year’s resolution is to make time to visit my schools more often to talk to our awesome principals and to see the great work that our schools are doing. I love Campbell-Kapolei and am so proud of how we do things for the right reasons and we take care of each other.”
Sean Tajima was appointed complex area superintendent in July 2018. Previously, Tajima was principal of Niu Valley Middle, Pauoa Elementary and Makakilo Elementary and served as vice principal at Kapolei Middle. He began his career with the Department as a special education teacher at Nānākuli High and Intermediate.

" My professional New Year's resolution is to spark joy not only to myself, but to others around me. I am hoping to channel Marie Kondo and weed through and organize my digital files, and send at least one thank you note per month to show my appreciation to a family member, co-worker, or one of our community members.”
Dr. Michelle Suzuki is the School Renewal Specialist for Campbell-Kapolei Complex Area. She also served as a complex area resource teacher, special education department head and taught special education ranging from grades PreK to 12 in FSC, resource, and inclusion classrooms. She is passionate about the at-risk population and supporting schools with their individualized needs.

" My professional New Year's resolution is to be intentional with my schedule; allowing quality time with the amazing people I get to work with and alongside.”
Melody Habon is a product of Hawai‘i’s public school system having attended August Ahrens Elementary, Waipahu Intermediate and Waipahu High. Melody began her education journey 23 years ago serving as an elementary school special education teacher, vice principal and now as Campbell-Kapolei’s district educational specialist.

Family Focus

Got a New Year’s resolution for healthier living but don’t know where to start? The Department has some resources to help ease you into thinking about nutrition and healthy eating habits! Ready to take the next step? Check out this Hawai‘i 5210 Cooking up a Rainbow resource for healthy recipes and healthy cooking tips!

Important Dates and
Upcoming Events


Community Query

We asked on Twitter and Instagram...

How do you plan to ring in the New Year?

BOE Strategic Plan Survey

The Hawai‘i State Board of Education is seeking input on finalizing its draft strategic plan. Your input is paramount to the success of this process. Please complete the survey by January 12 and encourage your colleagues, friends and family to join you in this important opportunity to help shape the future of public education in Hawai‘i. Access the survey here.

HIDOE Headlines

A roundup of announcements, resources and shoutouts.

» ‘Ilima Intermediate’s Sarah “Mili” Mililanta-Laffin and Kaua‘i High’s Leah Aiwohi were named CS Leaders by Code.org for their work in establishing or expanding access to computer science (CS) for students. The recognition comes with a $10,000 award. Congratulations!


» The state finalists in the 13th annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow STEM competition include representatives from five HIDOE schools. State finalists were awarded a package of $2,500 in technology and school supplies and will advance to additional stages of the national competition.


» These proud students are the first on Kaua‘i to earn nurse aide certifications while still in high school! Congratulations Kapa‘a High and KHS Health Academy lead teacher Kara Kitamura! And mahalo to industry partner Hawai‘i Pacific Health.


Keith Hayashi


Heidi Armstrong

Deputy Superintendent


Curt Otaguro

Deputy Superintendent

Tammi Oyadomari-Chun
Deputy Superintendent


Sean Bacon
Talent Management
Brian Hallett
Fiscal Services
Annie Kalama
Student Support Services
Randall Tanaka
Facilities and Operations

Christine Shaw

Information Technology Services

Cara Tanimura

Strategy, Innovation and Performance

Teri Ushijima

Curriculum and Instructional Design



Nanea Kalani

Executive Editor


Chanel Honda

Managing Editor


Sara Miyazono
Creative Director


Derek Inoshita

Contributing Writer


Krislyn Yano

Contributing Writer



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Email: newsletter@k12.hi.us

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Contact Information

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Phone: (808) 784-6200

Email: doeinfo@k12.hi.us


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The Department's primary publication featuring successes across our public schools.

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