Ho‘oha‘aheo Newsletter, Nov. 15


Our weekly online publication to highlight bright spots from across the public school system. This week's issue includes ag-tech in South Korea and increasing local menu offerings to students.

Nov. 15

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.

Aloha, HIDOE Community –

Agriculture technology in South Korea

This week a team – including myself, Board of Education member Shanty Asher, Senate Education Committee Chairperson Michelle Kidani, Windward Community College Chancellor Ardis Eschenberg and Castle-Kahuku Complex Area Superintendent Ed Noh – is visiting South Korea to learn more first-hand about the agriculture technology industry. The HIDOE has prioritized workforce development and innovation to ensure students are prepared for existing and emerging careers. Ag-tech and automation are emerging industries for which South Korea has become recognized as a global leader.

Seeing the facilities, equipment, and employees at work and having conversations with industry experts will allow us to better understand how we can prepare students for this near-future work. Visits to schools with strong agriculture and ag-tech educational programs will enable us to develop stronger programs of study in these areas within our own schools. Equipping our education leaders with the knowledge and resources needed to prepare our students to be successful in current and future career fields and thrive here in Hawai‘i supports our workforce innovation initiative.

Increasing locally produced menu items in school meals

During National Farm to School Month in October, nearly 60 of our schools incorporated locally grown ‘uala (sweet potato) in school lunches. We purchased approximately 2,500 pounds of ‘uala from several local farmers as part of our overall effort to increase local menu offerings to students.

To advance that effort, the Department recently posted a Request for Information (RFI) for potential vendors that could include farmers, ranchers, food hubs, processors, cooperatives and distributors to provide HIDOE school cafeterias with local produce, proteins and packaged foods. As the state’s largest institutional consumer of food products, serving over 100,000 students a day, the impact of the farm-and-school initiative will strengthen our local food sustainability and improve the health of students while supporting the state's local food production goals.


Social media highlights of the most engaging posts of the week.

Use the #HIPublicSchoolsProud hashtag for a chance to be featured!

Capitol Modern

» We had a blast honoring our ARTist Teachers during First Friday to celebrate their new exhibition in our Cafe! Come see their incredible work in this inaugural exhibit through November 24th 🎨 

Waihe‘e School

» Congratulations to our very own Waihe‘e Robo Warriors 🥳🤩🤖The Robo Warriors won the Robot Design award and qualified to participate in the state tournament on Dec. 2 🎉 Mahalo for representing our School!

Kailua Elementary

» Drumroll please…. Honubots won the district CHAMPION award!! They also placed first in robot performance!

Family Focus

Family Focus is a monthly column by Parents for Public Schools Hawai‘i.

What can we do to support our children and create peace in these times?

Even while we ourselves are stressed, the more we can encourage our children to be present with each other in school, the more resilient they will be.


Attending school gives our children connections that can help them deal with trauma that they may be facing. The more connected they feel, the more engaged they will be. School attendance will not only help their social and emotional needs but also their academic progress.


There is a national crisis in school attendance and it has been especially serious here in Hawai‘i. Honolulu Civil Beat recently reported on the Department’s Strive HI results for the 2022-23 school year showing that while overall attendance rates improved last year, the rates remain high compared with those before the pandemic.

School year% of students missing more than 15 days

The article also notes that for traditionally disadvantaged groups like homeless and low-income students as well as Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians, 40-55% of students were chronically absent.

HIDOE Deputy Superintendent Heidi Armstrong told Civil Beat that improvements in attendance have been achieved in the past two years using COVID-relief funds to support such initiatives as additional counselors and bilingual home assistants. As federal funds run out, it is even more important for us as families to find ways to promote attendance.

Check on their attendance.

If a student misses class or the day, you’ll get a recorded phone call from the school. Many schools give parents access to Infinite Campus, an online student information system where you can check class attendance and grades. If more is needed to help our children to school, email or call teachers or ask to visit a class.

Letting absences slide might seem like a kind approach. Some keiki may resist our encouragement to attend, to be present. But steady expectations of and support for our keiki to go to all classes is giving them the kindness they need. Being present will help to lessen anxiety and to increase happiness and success.

Visit our website for more information and for links to family tip worksheets to address attendance.

Parents for Public Schools Hawai‘i is a nonprofit organization contributing to keiki and public school success through family and community engagement.
Visit www.ppshi.org.

West Maui Updates

We will be providing relevant information on Lāhainā schools in this space,
including updates on health and safety, construction and more.

Wipe tests

The Department has hired a contractor to conduct bi-weekly wipe samplings in Lāhainā classrooms to test for any particles settling on surfaces. The most recent sampling was conducted on Nov. 6, and no lead or arsenic was detected.

“Aloha for Lāhainā” art auction

Dozens of one-of-a-kind art pieces created by local artists, including eight Lāhaināluna High students and a Lāhaināluna High teacher, will be featured in an art auction fundraiser to support the schools impacted by the Aug. 8 wildfires. The “Aloha for Lāhainā” art auction is now open online and will conclude on Thursday, Nov. 30. There will also be a live auction on Saturday, Dec. 2 at Island Art Galleries.

Free student meals through Dec. 2023

Through the generosity of a donor, the Department is able to provide student meals free of charge for Lāhainā schools through Dec. 2023 and is seeking external or internal funding to extend this offering through the end of the school year. This donation will greatly relieve families of the economic burden as well as the time and mental effort of tracking and making payments for their children’s meals. We greatly appreciate this gift and the security it brings to offer dependable, nutritious meals for our students.

Important Dates and
Upcoming Events

Community Query

We asked on Instagram

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dessert other than pumpkin pie?

HIDOE Headlines

A roundup of announcements, resources and shoutouts.

» In the latest episode of HIKI NŌ Maui Waena Intermediate student reporters showcase efforts of the Maui community giving back to families affected by the August wildfires.

» Congratulations to Kaiser, Kalāheo, Kalani, Mililani, Radford and Roosevelt High schools for receiving 2023 AP School Honor Roll recognition, reflecting a commitment to providing opportunities for students to earn college credit.

» H.P. Baldwin High, UH West O‘ahu graduate and UH Maui College alumna Alejandra Guadalupe Ramirez has a renewed commitment to relief efforts in her island home, with a focus on immigrants.


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

Michael Otsuji

Information Technology Services
Randall Tanaka
Facilities and Operations

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

Kimberly Yuen

Contributing Writer



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Email: newsletter@k12.hi.us

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Contact Information

Communications Branch

Phone: (808) 784-6200

Email: doeinfo@k12.hi.us


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