Weekly Updates, May 18


Our monthly Ho‘oha‘aheo newsletter will temporarily transition to a weekly edition. With COVID conditions continuing to improve, we have shifted away from the weekly COVID updates and will provide a wider range of HIDOE stories and announcements in this space as we adapt to the broader needs of our school communities.

May 18

Editorial Mission: Our monthly Hoʻohaʻaheo newsletter will temporarily transition to a weekly edition. With COVID conditions continuing to improve, we have shifted away from the weekly COVID updates and will provide a wider range of HIDOE stories and announcements in this space as we adapt to the broader needs of our school communities.

Updates from Interim Superintendent Hayashi

Aloha, HIDOE Community!

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Weekly Newsletter.

  • Mililani High School kicks off graduation season
  • » Graduation season officially kicked off on Monday with Mililani High School’s commencement ceremony at the SimpliFi Arena at UH Mānoa, and we have more than 40 commencement ceremonies scheduled this week.
  • » Congratulations to HIDOE’s Class of 2022! We are all so proud of you and excited for your bright futures ahead.
  • » See dates and times for upcoming Class of 2022 graduation ceremonies here along with the latest health guidelines.
  • Legislative appropriations for 2023 Fiscal Year
  • » With the Legislature's recent release of budget worksheets, we have more details on the proposed budget appropriations for the Department, and it is clear that lawmakers prioritized public education.
  • » We are very appreciative of the support shown by our legislators and Gov. Ige as these investments exceed HIDOE’s original requests. These funds will ensure the success of the HIDOE’s crucial projects, programs and initiatives while restoring the losses experienced throughout the last several school years.
  • » An overview of these appropriations and their uses can be viewed with this summary guide.
  • U.S. Department of Education visits HIDOE schools
  • » The Department is honored to host officials from the U.S. Department of Education and the Puerto Rico Department of Education this week, including Chris Soto, senior advisor to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
  • » With school visits to Wheeler Middle, Lanakila Elementary and Kula Kaiapuni ‘O Ānuenue this week, we’ve been able to highlight a sampling of the incredible work happening in our schools and the dedicated people behind these efforts.
  • » Soto shared that the visit is intended to help uplift the work we are doing and to see firsthand how HIDOE is utilizing federal relief funding to benefit students.
  • » I am proud of the schools and communities whose ongoing commitment to students has been made evident on a national scale.

#PublicSchoolProud  |  By Phyllis Unebasami

It has been my honor and privilege to serve at the school, district and state levels in our public education system, and what makes me #PublicSchoolProud is the commitment of our leaders, educators and staff to our students and school communities. This commitment was especially evident during challenging times. I have witnessed HIDOE employees step up in novel ways to lead in their communities. I leave confident that HIDOE will continue to grow and adapt to the changes and challenges in our world and will continue to make us #PublicSchoolProud.
» Deputy Superintendent Phyllis Unebasami announced earlier this year her plans to retire this summer after 40 years of dedicated service in education. She started her HIDOE career as a vice principal at Hilo High and Kailua High and went on to serve as principal at Enchanted Lake Elementary. She then transitioned to the district level and worked as a personnel regional officer and later as deputy superintendent for Windward District Office. She went on to lead training and development efforts as the head of PDERI (Professional Development and Educational Research Institute) before joining Kamehameha Schools. She returned to the Department to serve as acting assistant superintendent for the Office of Strategy, Innovation and Performance before being appointed as deputy superintendent in 2017.

Question of the Week

Q: Given the rise in COVID cases within the community, is there a threshold that would cause a graduation ceremony to shut down or to be significantly scaled down?

A: The Department's guidance on safety protocols for such events was designed to provide schools with flexibility as we continue to monitor COVID-19 conditions. Further restrictions are always a possibility as schools continue to prioritize the health and safety of students and staff.

We encourage those attending graduation ceremonies to carefully read all of the latest information and instructions provided by their school and ask for cooperation in taking proper precautions and adhering to any guidelines set by their school. Mahalo to all attendees in advance for their flexibility and understanding given any last minute changes.

HIDOE Case Counts

A total of 1,264 confirmed or probable cases were reported across Hawai‘i’s 257 public schools from May 9-13 for a daily average of 253 cases (as of May 16). This marks the eighth-straight week of increased case counts. For the latest case count information, visit bit.ly/HIDOECOVID-19Updates.

May 9-13

News Feed  |  #HI4PublicEd

A roundup of announcements, resources and shoutouts.

» Congratulations to Kealakehe High senior Kea E. Kahoilua-Clebsch who was announced as one of the two Hawai‘i scholars in the 58th class of 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars. The Presidential Scholars Program annually recognizes and honors only 161 of the most distinguished graduating high school seniors across the nation. Way to go, Kea!

» Mililani Middle School held a dedication for their new 15-classroom building as the school transitions from a multi-track calendar to a single-track one. The new facility will create more engaging learning spaces for students and moving to a single-track calendar will help maintain a consistent schedule for their families.

» Niu Valley Middle Principal Laura Ahn was recognized as the state’s 2022 Principal of the Year by the Hawai‘i Association of Secondary School Administrators (HASSA). HASSA annually honors a middle or high school principal who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and a strong commitment to their school’s students, staff and community.


Keith Hayashi

Interim Superintendent

Phyllis Unebasami
Deputy Superintendent

Heidi Armstrong
Assistant 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

Cara Phillips
Contributing Writer



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