Redup. of haʻa; low, lowly, minimum, humble, degraded, meek, unpretentious, modest, unassuming, unobtrusive; lowness, humility.

Pukui, Mary Kawena, Hawaiian dictionary : Hawaiian-English, English-Hawaiian 


Our mission at Kāneʻohe Elementary is to inspire all to embrace learning and discover passions with aloha at our core. But what does that look like in practice? How do we know when we have realized this mission with our students? Sometimes students write a letter to me as part of class assignment. While wonderfully written and persuasive, I’m unsure if it stem from their passions or if they are inspired. During these times, I remind myself to be haʻahaʻa and set aside my assumptions or judgements. I look beyond the words on the paper, ask questions, and listen for passions that have been ignited. This week, I was blessed to experience that inspiration from one of our students, inspiring me to ask, “Who wants to help build Buddy Benches?

As a teacher, one of the most fulfilling joys is seeing students’ eyes light up when they finally “got it.” When the lesson clicks and they not just understand, but can see all the different applications tied to that learning. It’s like Dorothy landing in Oz and seeing the entire world in color. For example, when I taught freshman physics, I tried to help  students see a relevance to the periodic table and the different elements. They learned that the most abundant element in the universe is hydrogen, the primary component of stars. Humans, on the other hand, are primarily composed of oxygen and carbon – much more complex elements than hydrogen. And the only way oxygen and carbon could have been created and deposited onto our planet is to be forged deep within the core of a star which then exploded, scattering its dust across the galaxies. Once students realized they were literally composed of stardust, they started to see themselves differently…more special…connected to the constellations in the night sky.

So what could top that? For a teacher, it’s getting the validation that students took something you’ve taught them and used it to make the world a better place. A few months before the pandemic, one of my former students, Jefferson, arrived on our campus unannounced. I immediately recognized him although he now sported a goatee and it had been 20 years since we last saw each other. As a ninth grader, I found Jefferson hard to read. He wasn’t one to laugh heartily or show the wonderment his classmates often emoted. Yet, Jefferson consistently asked insightful questions, hinting at the depth of thought swirling behind his somber eyes. My mind raced, wondering what brought about his visit. Jefferson told me that he had been searching for me for a couple of years. He had moved back from the continent after working there straight from college. He inquired about me back at Kailua High School, but no one he spoke with could help him. Then he saw an article about our school and tracked me to Kāneʻohe. Like it was ninth grade all over again, I could see no clue on Jefferson’s face as to why he sought me out. “I just wanted to thank you,” Jefferson announced. He said that after high school he was inspired by my science class to become a geophysicist. Now he’s working at Hawaiian Volcano Observatory measuring the hazards posed by the current eruptions. I was blown away. I had no idea that I had such an impact on him. I had only hope that something I taught was clicking. Yet, all these years later, Jefferson’s expression of appreciation and his efforts to help Hawaiʻi and the world, was way more gratifying than all of those ooos and ahs my students expressed at the time.

A few days ago, I was treated to experience this feeling once again – not for anything I had done or taught, but resulting from the efforts of one of our part-time teachers, Ms. Scarlett. Over the past semester, Ms. Scarlett, an aspiring teacher, has been working with Luke on how to be a stronger reader and as the year comes to a close, Luke felt inspired to share something with me. So he wrote it in a letter and Ms. Scarlett brought him to my office to read to me. As Luke sat in the oversized chair on the opposite side of my desk, he gingerly opened his letter and began to read. For a first grader sitting in front of the principal, Luke did his best to hide his nervousness. He recalled how hard it was to make friends, as a shy kid starting school. He wished our school had a buddy bench. He explained that a buddy bench was somewhere you could sit and show others that you wanted to form friendships. It was a way of asking someone to play without having to go up and ask them. Like in the grownup world, there are people who are outgoing and others that are more reluctant. For some shy kids, it’s difficult to overcome the fear of putting yourself out there only to be rejected. So a buddy bench helps others be haʻahaʻa to those too shy to express their feelings.

I asked Luke where he got the idea for a buddy bench. Luke explained that he read about it in a book he read with Ms. Scarlett. Right on cue, she stepped forward with the book and handed it to Luke to show me. My heart warmed. Ms. Scarlett did not just teach Luke to be a stronger reader, she inspired him through reading. Like Jefferson, Luke wants to use what he learned to make our school a better place. So, who wants to help build Buddy Benches this summer? Luke has a design and if this inspires you to act, please let me know. We are looking for funds, materials, and labor.

Ms. Scarlett with Luke showing his Buddy Bench design. Mahalo nui loa to Luke’s parents for allowing me to share his story and picture.

To show HAʻAHAʻA, 

  • Empty yourself – set aside your ego
  • Be thoughtful of others and their perspective
  • Listen but also be watchful


Inspired by Gholdy Muhammad

Please watch this: The Buddy Bench written by Patty Brozo and illustrated by Mike Deas. (Note this is not the same book Maleko read) Then with you child, answer the following:

IDENTITY: Have you ever felt too shy or afraid to join others that are playing a game you want to join? Have you ever noticed other kids watching from the side and asked them if them want to join in? What have you done in those situations?

SKILLS: The Buddy Bench uses a Coupled Rhyme scheme where the end of each pair of lines rhyme. For example,

“Iʻm new here,” said Will, “and todayʻs my first day.
No one but you has asked me to play.”

“Well help us keep this kite in the air.”
“Okay,” said Will, “I’ll be right there.”

Create your own poem about doing something fun at school using a Coupled Rhyme scheme.f=]

INTELLECT: Similar to an architect or engineer, an Industrial Designer is someone who designs products like benches that are manufactured. Watch this video about a college student studying to be an Industrial Designer. 

CRITICALITY: Other than a Buddy Bench, think of other things could be used to help connect people who feel lonely or want to make friends.

JOY: In the story, the Buddy Bench says, “Buddy Bench – Nobody Alone.” Come up with a phrase you would like to see on a Buddy Bench and decorations that go along with it.


Speaking of applying what’s being learned to better the world, our math enrichment students decided they wanted to use their math skills to raise money to support a good Samaritan who has been showing the Live Aloha spirit to people in his community. So they created different products centered around the theme of Aloha to support our school’s efforts and sold them to our staff and ohana. To ensure they could reach the goal of covering their costs while making enough for a sufficient donation, students needed to do all the calculations associated with running a business…without even a business degree. The project was a great success and the shopping was a highlight of our faculty meeting. Mahalo nui loa Math Enrichment students and their teacher, Mrs. Chinen.

MAHALO NUI LOA: Morning Traffic Volunteers

Throughout the year, we’ve been blessed to have parent, Joni Kamiya and her team of volunteers assist those crossing Mokulele get to school and remind those traveling that road to obey the speed limit. This Mokulele safety team has surely helped our students and families remain safe and we are thankful for their service.


Now that testing is over, we resume our Daily Virtual Piko. This practice helps us become centered and ready to learn. It helps us get on the same page, hearing one message of focus for the day and the week. If you are able, we begin at 8 AM everyday except Wednesday when we conduct the piko in-person.



Thur, May 25, 20236th Grade Promotion Ceremony
Fri, May 26, 2023Schoolwide Awards Assembly (Students & Staff Only – ceremony will be posted on KES website)
Last day of school


Good natured; not easily provoked; good humored as applied to a nature of ease and cheerfulness.

Andrews L., Parker H.H. A Dictionary of Hawaiian Language

In 1993, nearly two generations ago, I began my journey as an educator, teaching 9th grade Physical Science Y at Kailua High School. The “Y” meant students were segregated purportedly by “ability,” “X” being the “high” group and “Y” the “low.” As a newcomer to the school, it seemed to me that students were segregated less by their intelligence, and more by other qualities such as exposure to science,  zip code and ethnicity. This disparity was obvious to more than just me, the kids knew it as well. 

Just before the first period of the first day of school, my students raucously made their way into class as I greeted them at the door and showed them where to sit. Most of the students behaved like old friends, shaking hands, nodding heads, and smiles of acknowledgment. The tardy bell rang with just one seat vacant. Then as I turned to the chalkboard (yes – legit chalk back then) I spied a short boy of Japanese decent peaking into the door. I bade him in but before I could confirm his name, a loud, rowdy voice shouted, “Eh! You in the wrong class! Japanese kids next door!” I quickly turned my head to face the largest freshman I’d ever seen, a boy of Hawaiian descent, pouring out of his too small seat, sporting a goatee and sparkling, wary eyes. He pointed towards the “X” class. I quickly and embarrassingly said “no, no, hold on.” And asked the boy at the door for his name. I confirmed he was in our class and showed him to his seat.  

Later I took a look next door to see a class filled with students of white and Asian ancestry. My class on the other hand was filled with kids largely from Waimanalo and of Hawaiian descent. Just a few days into my teaching career and I vowed to change this gross inequity. 

Thankfully, my neighbor who taught Physical Science X was also fairly new to the school and not entrenched into the existing structure. He easily became convinced a change needed to be made. We agreed to untrack the course the next school year thus creating a more diverse mix of students in each class. Beyond feeling  this was the right thing to do, we discovered greater benefits resulting from untracking. Students’ academic performance increased so much that we could no longer detect a difference between students based on where they lived. Further, student behavior immediately improved. Students no longer felt like a “Y” student, no longer ashamed for being labeled “low”, no longer feeling stupid. 

Unfortunately, it would be many more years before 10th grade biology followed suit with one of the teachers proclaiming, “these kids will never go to college!” To which I sniped, “Who are you to decide that for them?” 

Yesterday, in her closing remarks to the graduates, one of my daughter’s bioethics professors declared, “May you forever be burdened by your knowledge of the inequities in the world. Now go out and do something.” And it reminded me of my attempts to do something as a young teacher and how my approach has changed as an older school leader. If I had approached my resistant colleagues with aloha, uncovering the lokahi we share and showing ʻoluʻolu, would change have come more quickly? Perhaps like my students who behaved better when treated with dignity, my colleagues may have been more receptive if I did not vilify them. Perhaps they’d have been more willing to change if I instead enlisted them as champions for our students. Perhaps they’d have been more willing to go out and do something.

To show ʻOLUʻOLU

  • Stay true to your values;
  • Remain strong; and
  • Speak and act in kindness.


Inspired by Gholdy Muhammad

Please watch this: Ho’onani: Hula Warrior written by Heather Gale and illustrated by Mika Song.Then with you child, answer the following:

IDENTITY: What role does music and dance play in your culture? Who are the people in your life who are most passionate about music and/or dance? Interview one of them and ask how it makes them feel and what it makes them think.

SKILLS: Hoʻonani’s character is based on a real personwho faced a similar challenge. So, what genre of literature would this be classified as? Fiction? Non-fiction? Something else?

INTELLECT: In this story, Hoʻonani identifies as māhū, embracing both masculine and feminine traits. In nature, many animals possess different gender traits, sometimes even changing their gender in order to survive. For example, some species of butterflies change their gender in order to increase their chances of surviving cold winters. Research an animal that changes their gender.

CRITICALITY: In the introduction the authors share their hope that we might follow the Hawaiian tradition of showing “every person the same unconditional acceptance and respect.” How might you show unconditional acceptance and respect to others?

JOY: Ho’onani shows ʻoluʻolu when she reminds herself to be “strong, sure, and steady.” What do you say to yourself to give yourself courage?

MAHALO NUI LOA: 4TH Grade ʻOhana Camping & Hōʻike

Thank you to our dedicated 4th grade team for braving the mud and rain to put on a family camping and service event at ʻĀina Aloha o Na Lima Hana, our community partner. A huge mahalo goes out to our students and their families for joining in this building of community, centered around celebrating our studentsʻ learning. Thank you also to Uncle Mark, Aunty Lina, and their ohana for hosting this wonderful and meaningful event. 

MAHALO NUI LOA: Campus Beautification #2

A huge thank you goes out to Jolyn Kresge, Wali Camvel, and Dee Fujinaka for organizing our second Campus Beautification event, continuing the efforts to create our Peace Trail, restore Puʻu Makani, and give Kāneʻohe Elementary much needed love. Our Navy Partners and their families came out in full force along with Uncle Estria of Mele Murals, members of our staff, and many families and students who showed akahai to our campus.


We finalize our Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) testing this week, ending on May 19, 2023.  Please ensure your child 

  • has a good nightʻs rest; 
  • eats a healthy breakfast;
  • bring their headphones to school; and 
  • is on time for school.

Tardy students cannot take the SBA on the day they are tardy.  

Depending on our completion status, we will restart our daily virtual piko on Thursday, May 18.


Apr 25 – May 19, 2023Smarter Balance Testing at Kāneʻohe ElementaryNo piko
Thur, May 25, 20236th Grade Promotion Ceremony
Fri, May 26, 2023Awards CeremonyLast day of school


Agreement in mind; unanimity of sentiment; union of feeling; oneness; similarity.

Andrews, Hawaiian Dictionary, 1865


As a six years old, every adult seemed old. I even equated height with age, thinking the tallest humans were the most elderly. Along those lines of thinking, I thought Mrs. Tanaka, my first grade teacher was one of the oldest, wisest person I knew. She probably was in her late twenties, but kid reasoning made me see her as a sage. Towering over us with an ever present smile stretching across her face, I looked forward to her class everyday. Mrs. Tanaka taught me to read and celebrated all of my successes. This enthusiasm was not reserved just for me. She lauded every student in our class, but somehow she made it feel special and personal. Even in 4th grade, when I won a special honor, Mrs. Tanaka was the first person I told. Then in 5th grade, when I got into private school, Mrs. Tanaka gave me a big hug and told me how proud she was of me. 

Years later, I wonder if I ever thanked her and let her know how much she meant to me. Back then, we didn’t have Teacher Appreciation Week or even a day set aside to acknowledge teachers – that wasn’t until 1984, and I was well into high school. As a child, it did not occur to me to say, “Thank you for all you’ve done for me. Thank you for giving me the gift of reading and a love for learning. Your validation meant the world to me because I wanted to make you proud.” 

We all had a “Mrs. Tanaka.” That is a lōkahi we share. We all had a teacher who taught us a valuable skill, opened our eyes to a new wonder, made us feel safe, and praised us for each step forward we took. Sometimes, our “Mrs. Tanaka” might not be a classroom teacher. It might be an Educational Assistant or tutor that cheered us from the side. It might be a coach or a club advisor that spent long hours guiding our efforts. We may have had a “Mrs. Tanaka” that was a caring adult on campus that did not play a role in the classroom, but watched out for us, picked us up when we fell, and let us know we were seen.

Forty-seven years later I can only hope that wherever Mrs. Tanaka is, she knows that she made a huge difference in the lives of her students – especially during this week as we show our appreciation to teachers, including those informal teachers who work in our cafeteria, office, and taking care of our grounds. Please join me in taking some time to say thank you and let our staff know that what they do is valued and appreciated.

To show LŌKAHI

  • Acknowledge that we share common values; and
  • Act in unison in alignment of those values.


Inspired by Gholdy Muhammad

Note: In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I will be featuring books by and/or focused on Asians and Pacific Islanders. 

Please watch this: The Beckoning Cat written, illustrated by Koko Nishizuka and illustrated by Rosanne Litzinger.Then with you child, answer the following:

IDENTITY: The maneki neko is a symbol of good luck in Japan that has been adopted by many Asian American restaurants and stores. Learn about and share the animals that symbolize good luck in your family or culture.

SKILLS: More than good luck, gratitude seems to be a theme in this book. How do the characters in this book show gratitude? Provide examples from the book.

INTELLECT: “The beckoning cat may seem to us to be waving, rather than beckoning. In the United States, we hold our hands upright with the palm facing us and beckon with one or all of our fingers. In Japan, and throughout Asia, this gesture is used to beckon dogs, not people, and is considered rude when directed toward people. To call a person over to you, you would put your fingers downwards, as the cats in the picture do, and beckon with all the fingers. While studying the story of Maneki Neko, make an effort to use this gesture instead of the usual American one. Consider studying about other cross-cultural differences in gestures.” (Source: Fresh Plans)

CRITICALITY: The maneki neko has been adopted by people across the world as a good luck charm. How might borrowing from and learning about other cultures promote connection and greater harmony?

JOY: Try making an origami maneki neko out of a square piece of paper. Here’s a more advanced version and a simpler one.


Six years ago, I joined a core group of leaders in using the Design Thinking process to develop and pilot a mentoring program for our 6th graders. Sixth grade is a critical year in a child’s development. As they enter puberty, beyond the obvious physical changes, children experience intense emotional changes.. They become mercurial causing them to feel confused, scared, angry and not know why. Peer acceptance grows in importance while parental approval diminishes in priority. So we thought, maybe pairing our sixth graders with a positive role model from Castle High School might help them with this transition and make better choices. The mentors had lunch with sixth graders once-a-week for a couple of months. The leaders planned out activities so the pairs could bond and arranged the transportation. Back then, the seniors had a very tight schedule and needed to promptly return for class. In the end, although the program was a great success, it was not sustainable due to transportation issues and the rigid high school schedule. So the pilot lasted a year with only a time capsule the mentoring pairs contributed to at the end of the program, May 5, 2017. Six years to the date, we gathered a few of the former 6th graders who are now seniors at Castle and their mentors who are in their professional careers. We reminisced, reconnected and ended the day opening the time capsule. None of the participants could recall what they wrote, but valued the words their younger selves put down on paper. Now that Castle’s schedule has changed and there is greater flexibility, there might be a chance we can revive this wonderful, important opportunity. In the meantime, mahalo nui loa to those who gathered including the mentors (Hannah Deitch-Cumming, Jesy Iwamasa, Keilee Simms, and Kai Zimmerman), mentees (Kaimana Arruda, Devon Hirao, Tyler Masumoto, Miala Matsumoto, Marley Pokipala, Roman Skonecki, and Emmalyn Uyehara) and especially the program coordinators (Nathan French, Ayada Bonilla, Shareen Masumoto, and Karen Kimura) who made this wonderful day possible.


We continue our Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) testing this week and through May 19, 2023.  Please ensure your child 

  • has a good nightʻs rest; 
  • eats a healthy breakfast;
  • bring their headphones to school; and 
  • is on time for school.

Tardy students cannot take the SBA on the day they are tardy.  

During this time period, we will also cancel our daily piko on testing days. We will resume piko on Monday, May 15.


Sat, May 13, 2023Campus Beautification #2
Apr 25 – May 19, 2023Smarter Balance Testing at Kāneʻohe ElementaryNo piko
Mon, May 15, 2023Daily Piko returns
Thur, May 25, 20236th Grade Promotion Ceremony
Fri, May 26, 2023Awards CeremonyLast day of school

AKAHAI & the Engineering Mindset

Aka, with, care, and hai, to speak. To be tender of heart; meek

Andrews, Hawaiian Dictionary, 1865


Fifteen percent – Out of the 570 students that presented their engineering design projects last week Friday, I predict 15% will go on to pursue a career in engineering. I might be way off and probably a bit optimistic but currently only 5% of students across the nation enroll in engineering degree programs. So, why dedicate an entire day to celebrating engineering, not to mention the engineering field day we had earlier in the year? Three reasons:

  1. Part of our mission is to inspire students to discover their passions. Who knows what amazing learning experiences our teachers design will provide that spark? So we expose students to as many diverse, engaging, and stimulating experiences that we can, including engineering;
  2. According to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, engineering  is one of the occupations that will be in the highest demand in the future. Hence, it is prudent to build students’ awareness that they might be an awesome, much needed engineer in the future; and
  3. Most importantly, the Engineering Design Process aligns with our efforts to cultivate a Growth Mindset in our students. Built into the process is failing and making mistakes. Students continually test and improve upon their failures, learning what works, and how to come up with a better solution. 

Thinking like an engineer means to accept one’s mistakes, understand that it is naturally a part of the problem-solving process. It is a way to show grace, AKAHAI, to ourselves. Too often, we home in on the tiny foibles, allowing them to overshadow our successes and lessons learned. For example, when I coached basketball, pre-Growth Mindset, I would get down on every error, turnover, and mindless foul our players made. We were never good enough, even when we won. I overlooked the plays we did well because our mistakes seemed more glaring. I wish I had the engineer’s mindset and shown AKAHAI to our players and myself. Sure, we tried to improve upon those mistakes, but our effort and the results were diminished because we felt so imperfect. Never mind learning from our successes either. 

An engineering mindset, would have allowed our players and me to embrace our mistakes and understand that it’s an inherent part of learning the sport. We would have viewed our errors and successes as data for our improvement – not as character flaws and serendipitous happenstances. In turn, an engineering mindset would have improved our effort and motivation. 

During the morning of our STEM Hōʻike, students visited other classes and heard from those younger and older how they applied the engineering design process to a different problem. Sixth graders heard kindergarteners introduce themselves as engineers and describe how they iterated to keep their paper houses from being blown down by the Big Bad Wolf. First graders saw how 4th graders designed traps to rid our streams of invasive species so native fish can once again thrive. While many students had yet to achieve success with their prototypes, their efforts and lessons learned were celebrated. Students also saw how this universal process grounded our school and strengthened overtime. Regardless if they become engineers, all developed a mindset that we can learn and always get better. 

To show AKAHAI

  • Accept our mistakes as natural and expected;
  • Reflect and strive to learn from mistakes and successes alike; and
  • Accept the mistakes others make and show them grace.


Inspired by Gholdy Muhammad

Please watch this: The Book of Mistakes written, illustrated by Corinna LuykenThen with you child, answer the following:

IDENTITY: Describe a time when you improved upon a mistake and experienced an outcome better than you initially expected.

SKILLS: Explain why you think the author wrote this story? Provide examples from the book.

INTELLECT: Ever hear the phrase, ”The real McCoy?” Watch this video about Elijah McCoy, a former slave turned engineer who’s invention built upon the mistakes he encountered and revolutionized the railroad industry.

CRITICALITY: If you hear a classmate making fun of someone for making a mistake, what can you do? 

JOY: Start a drawing. Then drop a dot of ink/paint onto the drawing or make a big mark in the middle with a marker. Take that “mistake” and add to or change their piece to create something new out of it.


We continue our Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) testing this week and through May 19, 2023.  Please ensure your child 

  • has a good nightʻs rest; 
  • eats a healthy breakfast;
  • bring their headphones to school; and 
  • is on time for school.

Tardy students cannot take the SBA on the day they are tardy.  

During this time period, we will also cancel our daily piko on testing days.


Mon, May 1, 2023Waiver Day – No Students
Sat, May 13, 2023Campus Beautification #2
Apr 25 – May 19, 2023Smarter Balance Testing
Thur, May 25, 2023 6th Grade Promotion Ceremony
Fri, May 26, 2023Awards Ceremony
Last day of school


Patience; patient, enduring, long suffering; to tolerate. Lit., great breath 



One of my favorite temptations is chips and other salty snacks. When placed in front of me, I have a difficult time resisting trying a few. This weekend I attended a workshop and walked by the platter full of pastries without a second look. However, when the bags of chips were brought out, all of sudden my stomach started to rumble. I immediately grabbed a bag of Fritos and clumsily stuffed my face. Had I been one of the kids in the famous Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, I would’ve been an outlier. Place a marshmallow in front of me and I can wait for days without wanting to eat it. But replace it with a plate of fries and I’d be labeled an impulsive toddler. 

The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, tested how age correlated with the ability to self-regulate and control one’s impulses. Children were given the choice to eat a marshmallow immediately or be rewarded with more if they waited. Researchers found that at around the age of 4, children are much better at showing patience when given this choice. Somehow, at this age, their brains mature to such a point that they could decide to wait rather than give in to temptation. Of course, some 4 year olds were better at waiting and could do it for much much longer – like 20 minutes compared to about a minute. Why the variation? Are some kids just born more able to control themselves? Science has shown otherwise.

Self-regulation/controlling one’s impulses/patience/ahonui is a skill and, like any skill, can be learned. (Even Cookie Monster can learn to be patient.) The Marshmallow Experiment showed that children who waited the longest, used strategies to be patient. They sang, turned away from the marshmallows, or did another activity. 

Of course some temptations are harder to resist. Like fries or chips for me, some children are especially impulsive when something/someone angers them. Even in these situations, they can learn to better control their emotions. Breathing, counting, singing, and walking away helps to diffuse their anger so they may better address the harm and hurt they experienced. As they learn to master the skill of showing ahonui, children will better foster positive relationships, enriching both their personal and professional lives into the future.

To show AHONUI, 

  • Take a deep and cleansing breath – aho;
  • Picture a cool and gentle wave washing over you, rinsing away temptations, anger or stress; and
  • Relax your muscles 


Inspired by Gholdy Muhammad

Please watch this: Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend written, illustrated and read by Dan Santat.Then with you child, answer the following:

IDENTITY: Describe a time when you had to be patient and preserve through a scary or uncomfortable experience. 

SKILLS: What strategies does Beekle use to remain patient and persevere through his challenges? Provide examples from the book.

INTELLECT: Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Watch this video by Sir Ken Robinson and the Power of Imagination (or for those with less patience, this shorter version)

CRITICALITY: When children move from one school to the next, it can be very trying to make new friends. How might we show aloha to help someone through that experience? Interview someone who has had to move to a new school -or- Share your story of moving to a new school.

JOY: In the story, Beekle wears a crown, symbolic of his courage, patience and perseverance. Using recycled materials, make a crown to remind you of the courage, patience and perseverance you possess.


One of the key initiatives unique to Kāneʻohe Elementary is our participation in the Engineering Pipeline, partnering with the UH College of Engineering and various engineering firms.  At the elementary level, we introduce students to engineering as a problem-solving process and career option. Every student, from pre-school to grade 6 then uses the Engineering Design Process throughout the year to solve problems, apply core academic areas to real life scenarios, and cultivate a Growth Mindset. On Friday, April 28, 2 – 3:50 PM we invite you to visit your child’s homeroom and have them share the problem they attempted address, how they used the Engineering Design Process, and what they learned.

HOʻOMAIKAʻI: Castle-Kahuku Complex-Area Speech Festival 2023 Champions

On April 15, 23 fourth and sixth graders participated in the Castle-Kahuku Speech Festival 2023, our first in-person speech fest since the pandemic. They competed against other schools across the complex-area and were judged for their ability to recite works of literature to evoke emotion and entertain. We received their scores earlier this week and proudly announce that every group earned a superior rating – an amazing feat. Congratulations to the following superior speech festival participants:

Millie Brechner 

Makamae Kaluhiwa 

Kobe Bruhn 

Kolea Danner 

Keisuke Fujimoto 

Mahina Ruiz 

Willa Maxilom-Stevens 

Callia Malczon

Sariah Ava 

Nahlyn Khanama 

Isabella Morton 

Precious Pagba-Pimenta 

Farrah Dumancus-Jones 

Jase Chow 

Kage Timoteo 

Ryan Hunt 

Isabela Duenas 

Audrey Andres 

Haulani Solarzano 

Shaylyn Naone 

Sophia Reimers 

Jessica Hanaoka

Mia Stringfield

And their coaches: Mrs. Almedia, Mrs. Kodama, and Ms. Hastings

Mahalo also goes out to Miyuki Sekimitsu for coordinating our participation in this event and her team including: Jacque Yoshizumi, Dee Fujinaka, Julie Isa, and Jessica Matute


We begin our Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) testing on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, through May 19, 2023.  Please ensure your child 

  • has a good nightʻs rest; 
  • eats a healthy breakfast;
  • bring their headphones to school; and 
  • is on time for school.

Tardy students cannot take the SBA on the day they are tardy.  

During this time period, we will also cancel our daily piko on testing days.


Mon, Apr 24, 2023Innovation Academy Information Session 6:30 – 7:15 PM
Wed, Apr 26, 2023School ends at 2 PM – switch with Friday, Apr 28 for STEM Hōʻike
Wed, Apr 26, 2023School Community Council Mtg 4:30 – 5:30 PM
Fri, Apr 28, 2023STEM Hōʻike  2 – 3:50 PM – NOTE: School ends at 1:35 PM on this date 
Mon, May 1, 2023Waiver Day – No Students
Sat, May 13, 2023Campus Beautification #2
Apr 25 – May 19, 2023Smarter Balance Testing at Kāneʻohe Elementary



Redup. of haʻa; low, lowly, minimum, humble, degraded, meek, unpretentious, modest, unassuming, unobtrusive; lowness, humility.  (Pukui-Elbert)

Early in my career as a high school teacher, I chastised students who used profanity, asking if they would use language like that around their parents or grandparents. Most would avoid my gaze, sheepishly mumble, “no,” and then apologize. However, there were more than a few who defiantly confirmed that’s how they speak at home. Back then, I dismissed those responses as an oppositional fabrication and reprimanded the student further. I could not imagine anyone swearing at home. It certainly was not how I brought up and not how my friends were either (at least I assumed). Consequently, I surmised my personal experiences were universal for all of my students.

Then a few years later, I was sincerely blessed to be welcomed into the homes of my students. I served as their class advisor and spent many late nights constructing floats for the homecoming parades and chaperoning dance rehearsals for assemblies. There, I saw how different their lives were compared to mine. Some were raised by an older sibling. Others served as the caregivers for their elderly grandparents who were also their guardians. All were loved and provided for. Some lived in strictly religious, austere households. Others seemed to have no rules and were often unsupervised for most of the night. All were extremely generous and welcoming.

Getting a glimpse into their lives taught me that I knew so little. I made broad assumptions that could not be further from the truth. Everyone has different life experiences and everyone experiences life differently. And while it is still improper and unacceptable to swear at school, I never again asked students if that’s what they do at home. Instead, I let them know what is the expected behavior in this context and how others might perceive that as disrespectful. After all everyone has different life experiences and everyone experiences life differently.

Aunty Pilahi Paki taught Pono to “go empty” when striving to be haʻahaʻa. In other words to be open-minded and not cast judgements on others. She said that you must empty yourself of your ego so that you can listen to and understand others.

To become more HAʻAHAʻA,

  • Empty yourself of ego and judgements
  • Listen and observe with an open mind and heart
  • Consider there are many ways to be and do what’s right


Inspired by Gholdy Muhammad

Please watch this: Milo Imagines the World  by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson. (Note – the reading of the story begins at 2:25 and goes to 11:26. The full video is just under a half-hour and is totally worth watching it in its entirety. The author and illustrator share their process and the backstory of the book.)Then with you child, answer the following:

IDENTITY: Does anyone you know like to draw? What makes drawing pleasurable for that person (ask them and listen to what they say)?

SKILLS: What might be the main message of this book? What makes you think this?

INTELLECT: As you listen to the story, the author uses alliteration and onomatopoeia. Research what these literary tools are, point our where they are used in the story and then come up with examples of your own.

CRITICALITY: Have you ever wrongly judged someone – making an assumption about what they might be feeling or thinking? Share about this time and how, in the future, you can avoid judging others.

JOY: Draw a picture of your loved ones sharing a happy moment in the future.

If your child asks what happened to Milo’s mom and why she is in a correctional facility, the author suggests the following:

We know that when we do not obey a rule in school or at home, we have a consequence. Adults also have consequences when they do not obey rules. Milo’s mom might have not obeyed a law and the consequence for the specific law she broke was spending a certain amount of time in a correctional facility. 

After listening to students share their ideas, follow up with questions that will humanize Milo’s mother further, and create a baseline, a starting point students have created themselves, to refer to when they think and refer to a person that is or has been incarcerated. You could ask:

Using your background knowledge and the clues the author and the illustrator give us as readers, brainstorm with a partner(s) how you can tell that Milo’s mom is a good mother.


For the past 12 years, Kāneʻohe Elementary has partnered with Punahou School to recognize students as scholars for the PUEO (Partnerships in Unlimited Educational Opportunities) program. Students selected for PUEO attend a special summer program at Punahou from the time of entry until their senior year. During this time, students take a variety of courses designed to ready students for college while building pilina and resiliency. Until recently, Kāneʻohe was allowed to nominate one 5th grader to the program. This year, we were fortunate that we had a fourth grader, Hope Bunda, and two fifth graders, Trystin Arikawa and Azarya Young-Kawaa, accepted into the program. They join sixth graders, Levi Bertelmann and Hiʻilani Taniguchi, as Kāneʻohe’s PUEO scholars. (Pictured are our newest PUEO scholars with their families, including Kāneʻohe alumnus and PUEO scholar Jayse Bunda.)


Tue, Apr 18, 20236th grade promotion picture taking
Sat, Apr 22, 2023Rainbow Keiki Run
Fri, Apr 28, 2023STEM Hōʻike (details TBA)
Sat, May 13, 2023Campus Beautification #2

ʻOLUʻOLU and Resilience


Redup. of ʻolu; pleasant, nice, amiable, satisfied, contented, happy, affable, agreeable, congenial, cordial, gracious; please.  (Pukui-Elbert)
Good natured; not easily provoked; good humored as applied to a nature of ease and cheerfulness. (Parker)

Since 2003, public middle school students (grades 6 – 8) across Hawaiʻi respond to a biennial survey tracks “health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and young adults.” The survey covers topics ranging from smoking to drug use; mental health to sexual behaviors; as well as protective factors that promote healthy choices.

Compared to 2019, the latest survey results recorded in 2021 features several bright spots. For one, cigarette smoking continues to be on a downward trend, dropping from 10.5% to 7.1%. Further, there was a sharp decrease in vaping as well, from 30.6% to 12.8%. 

Interestingly, students reporting that they “Did not go to school because they were sick in the past 30 days” significantly decreased from 53.1% in the pre-COVID year of 2019 to 37.4%.

Sadly, the amount of students that reported feeling despair so deep it kept them from participating in regular activities has risen, increasing from 30.5% to 34.4%. Further, more than half of them, 53.6%, never or rarely got the kind of help they needed. Unfortunately, this is part of an alarming trend for the nation’s youth that has been on an incline for the past 10 years. Keeping kids from attending school in-person and other traumatic affects of the pandemic only exacerbated this situation. While schools were able to keep students learning from a distance, many students suffered from being physically disconnected from their peers and teachers. Studies emerging from this period indicate increased depression and anxiety stemming from distance learning.

For Kāneʻohe Elementary, we monitor our students’ social-emotional wellbeing through the Panorama SEL survey which is conducted three-times-a-year. Based on the results of this survey, I am happy to announce that our students are making good progress. For example, during the Fall of 2020, as we transitioned from distance learning to being partially on-campus, 47% of our 3rd-5th graders and 45% of our 6th graders reported being able to regulate their emotions, which includes controlling their emotions when needed, remaining calm when things are going wrong and staying relaxed while everyone around is angry – in other words, being ʻoluʻolu. At that time, our students reflected the overall mood of the nation. 

This past winter, when asked the same set of questions, 58% of our 3rd-5th graders and 52% of our 6th graders reported positively, respectively placing them at the 99th and 80th percentile across the nation. While we strive to have 100% of students showing ʻoluʻolu, I believe we are making good progress.

In large part this is due to promoting “protective factors” here on campus, especially in building connections –lokahi– to caring adults and teaching students to build positive relationships. One the key areas we look at to measure this is students’ sense of belonging which asks about whether they feel understood, respected and supported. From a low of 73% for 3rd-5th graders and 55% for 6th graders in the Fall of 2020, 80% of our 3rd-5th graders and 62% for 6th graders now report feeling like they belong.

Credit for this improvement can be attributed to a broad range of efforts from our teachers, support staff, parents, families, community partners, kupuna in our neighborhood, and our students themselves. All have focused on improving learning outcomes and fostering a culture of aloha. 

Pono Shim frequently paraphrased Aunty Pilahi Paki’s prophecy regarding Hawaiʻi’s future stating:

“In the 21st century, the world will search for peace and they’ll look to Hawaiʻi because Hawaiʻi has the key and that key is ALOHA.”

To become more ʻOLUʻOLU

  • Develop positive connections;
  • Practice empathy;
  • Help others;
  • Embrace your choices (mistakes, failures and successes) as lessons;
  • Make self-care (eating healthy foods, exercising, get a good night’s sleep) a daily habit; and 
  • Maintain a hopeful outlook.


Inspired by Gholdy Muhammad

Please watch this: The Hugging Tree by Jill Neimark and illustrated by Nicole Wong. Then with you child, answer the following:

IDENTITY: Interview a family member about a challenge your kupuna faced. Who and what helped them to be resilient?

SKILLS: What is the main problem the tree faces in the story and who does the tree turn to for help?

INTELLECT: Learn about the ʻōlulu, an endemic plant in Hawaiʻi once found on the cliffs of Kauaʻi, but now is presumed to be extinct in the wild. It survives due to help received from humans.

CRITICALITY: When times are hard and we face challenges, we need to be strong. Can we be strong alone, or do we need help from others? How do we seek help from others, and why do they help us? (source)

JOY: Write and draw a thank you card to someone who helped you through a difficult challenge.

HOʻOMAIKAʻI: Hawaiʻi State Science and Engineering Fair Winners

Congratulations to our students for placing 1st and 3rd in their respective categories, beating out 7th and 8th graders from public and private schools across the state! For Engineering Technology, Mia Stringfield and Miya Karikomi took the top prize. Eleu Ceria, Logan Belluomini, and Violet Koida followed strong bringing home the bronze. Mahalo nui loa to their teachers (Mrs. Almeida, Ms. Bruecher, Mrs. Morton, and Kumu Sarah) who prepared and encouraged these students for this major competition.


Tue, Apr 11, 2023, 6 – 7 PMKES Ohana Mtg – in-person at the KES Library or via Zoom
Sat, Apr 22, 2023Rainbow Keiki Run
Sat, May 13, 2023Campus Beautification #2
Apr 25 – May 19, 2023Smarter Balance Testing at Kāneʻohe Elementary



Agreement in mind; unanimity of sentiment; union of feeling; oneness; similarity. (Parker)

A common greeting when two people from Hawaiʻi first meet is to ask, “Where you grad from?” (Translation: From which high school did you graduate?) This is followed by, “What year?” And while we might poke fun of each other’s alma mater or age, these questions are not intended to judge each other. Instead, these questions are aimed at finding a connection; finding the lōkahi. For through this initial inquiry, we often discover the friends we have in common or distant relations. Which then leads us to share the stories which show the humor and values we share, thereby further deepening our bonds.

Last Saturday, I had the honor of connecting with Dr. Jim Scott, former head of Punahou. We sat on a panel, speaking to aspiring school leaders. While I met Dr. Scott before, our interactions were limited and only in formal settings. Often it occurred in a receiving line as I thanked him profusely for co-founding the PUEO (Partnerships in Unlimited Educational Opportunities) Program. Being only one of two elementary schools on the Windward side that nominate students to participate in this illustrious scholarship program, I am eternally indebted to Dr. Scott for his visionary compassion. Also given his accomplishments and accolades, I did not feel like I was at his level where we could just “talk story.” 

Now, three years since his retirement and 11 years into my tenure as principal, in this somewhat casual setting, we were able to talk casually and get to know each other on a personal level. He of course asked me where I graduated from and what year (I already knew he was an alumnus of Punahou but also asked for his year of graduation.) We shared an obvious personal connection through the former head of the PUEO program, Dr. Ackerman who once taught at Iolani, my alma mater. He then mentioned that his partner also taught science at Iolani and might have been there when I was going to school. I did not recognize her last name, but immediately wondered if it might be my biology teacher who had the same first name. I had not thought of her for years. Yet, pondering the possibility, I recalled how she challenged us with interesting, relevant lessons such as determining the possibility our children would end up with our looks. I remembered how she would show kindness and a real interest into how we were doing. 

A few days after the event, Dr. Scott emailed me to share what his partner’s last name was back when I was in school. He also said that she remembered me. While it had been 40 years since I was her student, knowing that she was also a part of Dr. Scott’s life somehow strengthens our connection. And yet, this connection existed well before last Saturday. Regardless of the positions we held or the circumstances of our meeting, without our knowing, we were already connected. This is lōkahii.

To uncover LŌKAHI

  • Ask about someone’s background – where they grew up, where their family is from
  • Listen without judgement
  • Ask follow-up questions, seeking to find different ways you are connected
  • Share stories of those connections


Inspired by Gholdy Muhammad

Please watch this: The Tree in Me by Corinna Luyken. Then with you child, answer the following:

IDENTITY: What parts of the story describing the tree in the main character describes the tree in you? 

SKILLS: The author uses the metaphor of a tree to represent how we are all connected. Think of another metaphor to show how we are all connected.

INTELLECT: The author mentions not using any green in illustrating her trees. On the continent and sometimes here in colder areas, there are trees that change the color of their leaves in the fall. They are called deciduous. Research this term and learn why the leaves of deciduous trees change color.

CRITICALITY: How might seeing how we are all connected possibly reduce hate in our society?

JOY: Draw the tree in you. What colors would you use to represent your leaves?

Mahalo Nui Loa: Campus Beautification

A huge thank you goes out to Jolyn Kresge, Wali Camvel, Dee Fujinaka, and Cherisse Yamada for organizing our first Campus Beautification event in many years. We also owe many thanks to our alumni, the Castle High Key Club, Uncle Estria of Mele Murals, Representative Scot Matayoshi, our Navy Partners, members of our staff and the many families and students who put in a tremendous effort to show akahai to our campus. Stemming from a shared love for Kāneʻohe Elementary, their hana, certainly helps our campus to be a more inviting, positive place to learn.


Sat, Apr 22, 2023Rainbow Keiki Run (details forthcoming)
Apr 25 – May 19, 2023Smarter Balance Testing at Kāneʻohe Elementary



Aka, with, care, and hai, to speak. To be tender of heart; meek (Andrews)

Did you know that up until 1986, a mere 37 years ago, it was illegal to speak or teach ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi in school? In 1896, three years after the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, the new government decreed that all of Hawaiʻi’s public schools were to be English-only. This ban nearly caused the Hawaiian language to become extinct. Fortunately, there were a few who bravely resisted and did all that they could to preserve Hawaiian culture. One of these heroes is being celebrated today with the release of a US quarter with her image

Edith Kanakaʻole was born during a time when practicing Hawaiian traditions and culture were oppressed. Many Native Hawaiians felt stigmatized by the pressure to become “Americanized,” so they chose not to pass on the ʻike of their kupuna to their keiki. However, Kanakaʻole was not deterred. She continued to study ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, hula, oli, and mele. In 1953, carrying forth the teachings of her kupuna, Kanakaʻole opened a hālau hula. Rather than teach hapa haole styles or just how to dance, her hālau stood out by teaching both dance and oli, requiring dancers to learn the language. 

As her prominence bloomed, Kanakaʻole played even greater roles in promoting the preservation of the Hawaiian culture. During the 1970s, she was instrumental in establishing a Hawaiian Language program at Keaukaha Elementary School as well as implementing the Hawaiian Studies Kupuna Program (for which Kumu Hanohano is our Hawaiian Studies Kupuna). Kanakaʻole also taught at Hawaiʻi Community College and the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo where she created courses in ethnobotany, Hawaiian chants and myths, genealogy, Polynesian history, and land ownership.

By the time of her passing in 1979, Kanakaʻole performed a key role in ushering in the Hawaiian Renaissance. Her efforts ensured the Hawaiian culture would continue to thrive well into the future. She resisted oppression and discrimination, but not by shedding blood or taking up arms. Edith Kanakaʻole resisted by spreading grace; by teaching others, sharing her ʻike, showing kindness, and inspiring others to act. She resisted by being akahai.


  • Make someone or someplace better by
    • Showing kindness – even when frustrated or upset;
    • Teaching someone a skill or piece of knowledge; or
    • Making someplace more beautiful.


Inspired by Gholdy Muhammad

Please watch this: Edith Kanakaʻole kumu aʻo “Ohana & Laulima”  by Kokua Films Hawaiʻi where she shares the moʻolelo of ʻohana. Then with you child, answer the following:

IDENTITY: As Edith Kanakaʻole explains the importance of kalo to the Hawaiian people, she identifies other foods important to people of different cultures. What food item is important to your ʻohana?

SKILLS: What do you think was Kanakaʻole’s purpose in telling the story behind the word ʻohana?

INTELLECT: Kanakaʻole shares the moʻolelo of Hāloa and calls him the “progenitor” of the Hawaiian people. What does “progenitor” mean?

CRITICALITY: One of the ways Kanakaʻole resisted the oppression of Hawaiian culture was to share moʻolelo like in this video. Your challenge for this week is to be like Edith Kanakaʻole and share a story with someone that creates more love and less hate.

JOY: How does Kanakaʻole share the joy of laulima in her story?


Wed, Mar 29, 20234:30 PM School Community Council Meeting 
Sat, Apr 1, 2023Campus Beautification – Sign up to help by Wednesday, 12:00pm. 
Sat, Apr 22, 2023Rainbow Keiki Run (details forthcoming)





Also – a very moving and beautiful video about the power of hula by Kaumakaiwa Kanakaʻole, great granddaughter of Edith Kanakaʻole



Patience; patient, enduring, long suffering; to tolerate. Lit., great breath.  (Pukui-Elbert)

To be patient, gentle, kind; forbearance (Andrews)

If I were to ask you to picture in your mind the first woman to become a self-made millionaire, what would she look like? Would you picture a woman from the early 1900s? Would you picture a woman of African heritage born to former slaves? Madam C. J. Walker became a millionaire through a combination of intelligence, perseverance, inventiveness, and ahonui.

Born into poverty, losing her mother at 7, married at 14, and widowed as a single-mother at 16, it would have been easy to underestimate Madam C. J. Walker. However, Walker worked diligently and attended night school, patiently contributing to her eventual success. After developing a scalp disorder that caused her to lose much of her hair, Madam Walker experimented with different home remedies and store-bought hair care treatments. She persevered and eventually invented her own hair care product which she marketed to African American women. Through enduring patience, Madam Walker’s company grew and employed hundreds, uplifting the black community. She became a philanthropist, funding scholarships, charities for the elderly, and contributing to the establishment of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). 

It must be remembered that Madam Walker achieved all of her wealth when very few women owned businesses and independently held power, let alone anyone who was non-white. Madam Walker even encountered resistance from within the black community. While attending the National Negro Business League, an event orchestrated by Booker T. Washington, Walker was shunned from speaking despite other male cosmetics entrepreneurs being given the stage. Through their lauding, Walker showed great forbearance. Recognizing her moment to act, on the last day of the conference, Walker, addressed Washington. She said, “Surely, you are not going to shut the door in my face. I feel that I am in business that is a credit to the womanhood of our race.” The following year, Washington featured Walker as a conference speaker.

Given her humble beginnings, some might attribute Madam Walker’s success to luck. Yet, that diminishes her dedication to educating herself, the hard work she put in, her entrepreneurial skills, her inventiveness, and strength of character. Madam Walker recognized the opportunities that laid before her, even if the rewards would not be immediately reaped. She showed more than patience. She showed forbearance. This is, as Aunty Pilahi Paki taught Pono Shim, is to be ahonui.

To show AHONUI

  • Take a deep and cleansing breath – aho;
  • Observe what’s around you and ask yourself:
    • Is this the right time to act? Or would it be better to wait?


Inspired by Gholdy Muhammad

Please watch this: HEADSTRONG: Madam C.J. Walker by PBS. Then with you child, answer the following:

IDENTITY: If you could start a business, what would it sell or provide to the public?

SKILLS: How might have Madam Walker used the engineering design process to become a successful business owner? 

INTELLECT: What is an entrepreneur? How does one pursue this career?

CRITICALITY: Madam Walker was a philanthropist using her wealth and power to fight against discrimination while helping others become educated and lift themselves out of poverty. Who in our community does similar philanthropic work?

JOY: Your challenge for this week is to bring joy to yourself by showing ahonui and accomplishing something using patience and perseverance.


A huge thank you goes out to Tammy Shigezawa, Misty Taniguchi, Dee Fujinaka and all of our Color Fun Run organizing committee along with our volunteers and to all those who contributed to it’s success. The students thoroughly enjoyed the experience, bouncing through the inflatables, squirting water at our administrators, dodging obstacles, and running through a cloud of colors launched by our volunteers. Further, with your support, we raised over $40,000 to upgrade our cafeteria stage and sound system. Mahalo nui loa to all that generously support our school. 


Wed, Mar 29, 20234:30 PM School Community Council Meeting 
Sat, Apr 1, 20238:30am – 11:30am Campus Beautification