Redup. of ʻolu; pleasant, nice, amiable, satisfied, contented, happy, affable, agreeable, congenial, cordial, gracious; please.

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


When I first got into teaching, I brought to the job an engineering degree and five years experience as a camp counselor. I could lead attention-getters and ice-breakers all while explaining how to design a sewer system, but somehow these tools were ineffective with 30 ninth-graders who did not want to be in my class learning physical science. Most displayed their boredom by passively putting their heads down, but one or two competed for the class’ attention by making inappropriate jokes and noises. I tried to be strict, setting up stringent expectations and giving stern looks when students did not meet them. But students continued to show disrespect and seemed to become even more defiant. I then tried to be punitive, holding students in to make up for the time “they wasted.” But this strategy was unenforcible when the students needed to rush to another class and failed to come back for detention later in the day. Even when I could hold them in, the whole session usually devolved into a venomous battle of wills that never seemed to teach the desired lesson.

Eventually, my vice-principal arranged for me to see one of the most effective teachers on our campus, Kathy Ellwin. Mrs. Ellwin taught social studies to the same cohort of students I had for physical science. Sitting in the back of her classroom, I was dumbfounded. The same students who gave me a hard time earlier that morning, were diligently working and respectfully relating to their peers. Instead of ruling the class with stern looks, Mrs. Ellwin wore an infectious smile and taught with a melodic voice. When one student began to look frustrated – a look I’ve seen many times from this same student and often before an emotional explosion – Mrs. Ellwin calmly crouched beside him, whispered something inaudible to anyone else around and the frustration seemed to melt away. What was this magic Mrs. Ellwin beheld? How did she get such different results from the same group of students? 

Though I didn’t have the vocabulary for it back then, I now recognize it as ʻoluʻolu. Mrs. Ellwin had an affable personality, indefatigably positive and supportive. She clearly loved teaching and was wholly dedicated to her students.  The students knew this too and did not want to disappoint her.  Even if they became frustrated, as learning something challenging can elicit, Mrs. Ellwin simply whispered, “I see you are getting frustrated. How can I help you? I know that you can learn this.” And this was big for those kids who rarely had anyone express confidence in they’re being able to learn something hard. Somehow, it was what they needed to stay resilient and complete the task.

While certainly gracious, pleasant and nice, I would never call Mrs. Ellwin weak. In fact, after witnessing her teach 30 ninth graders how to write a persuasive essay, I would call her the strongest woman in the world. She did not resort to threats or punishments. Instead, she treated them like people deserving of respect, saw the best in them, and showed them aloha. She was the embodiment of ʻoluʻolu.

5 PURSUITS of ʻOluʻolu:

Inspired by Gholdy Muhammad

Please watch this: Those Shoes written by Maribeth Boelts  and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones. Then with you child, answer the following:

  • IDENTITY: How do you feel when you help others? Has there been a time where other people helped your family? How did that feel?
  • SKILLS: Theme is the underlying message or lesson that the author is trying to convey to the reader. What do you think might be the theme of this book? What are the story elements and picture clues that tell you that this might be the theme?
  • INTELLECT: In Hawaiʻi we don’t have to worry about going to school in the snow. Research what it might be like to live in a place where it snows and what you might need to go to school when it snows.
  • CRITICALITY: Have you ever given something to someone that they needed but didn’t ask for? How did that feel?
  • JOY: Make a list of volunteer activities or ways that people can share and give in your community. Point out different examples to your child and talk about the different ways people help each other. Pick an activity and do something that helps others this week.


For the time being, we will continue to Wear Pink for Maui on Wednesdays and we hope all continue to join us in letting “that light, that divine inspiration that Aunty Pilahi Paki says is given to you at your very beginning, come through and let your ALOHA join with the ALOHA of the collective to bring about healing.” 

Mahalo Mrs. Kresge's Class for sharing their Aloha with Maui
Mahalo Mrs. Kresge’s Class for sharing their Aloha with Maui

DAILY VIRTUAL PIKO – please join us

The Daily Piko 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.


Wed, Aug 30, 2023, 4:30 – 5:30 PMSchool Community Council Mtg – Join by Zoom
Thur, Aug 31, 2023, 9:30 AMRoyal Hawaiian Band Performance
Tue, Sept 5, 2023, 8:30 AMSenator Akaka Foundation Book Celebration
Tue, Sept 12, 2023, 8:30 AMFrank DeLima Performance
Fri, Sept 22, 2023Waiver Day – No Students
Tue, Sept 26, 2023Fall Picture Taking Day
Sat, Sept 30, 2023Campus Beautification Day

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