Kupuohi Education Program

Aloha kākou! The new school year is just around the corner and before it begins we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the exciting year we had in our Kupuohi Education Program. This past school year we had the privilege of hosting amazing kumu (teachers) and haumāna (students) from a variety of educational institutions reflecting Hawaiʻi’s diverse public, private, and charter schools.

As we reflect on the year, it is clear that we are rich in relationship and that we as a program and an organization value deep connection. The shifts we have made to truly prioritize multiple visits and the inclusion of ʻohana days provide opportunities for students to connect not only with one another and their kumu, but with their families, with ʻāina, and with us. The way students are incorporating lessons from Hoʻokuaʻāina in their end-of-year presentations and school events speaks both to the depth of their learning as well as the depth of their connection with our organization and with Kapalai itself. We look forward to continuing these partnerships next year and to the new opportunities that lie ahead.

Here are some highlights of the year:

Over the course of the year many of our participating schools visited the loʻi four times with various lessons leading up to our final lesson, ‘Āina Momona which focuses on the link between the health of ʻāina and the health of kānaka (people) through traditional food preparations. After spending the previous three quarters learning how to work and care for the ʻāina, students in the program learned about traditional and contemporary ways of preparing kalo to be eaten and were able to enjoy the kalo they have been caring for all year. As part of the final culminating lesson, we held several kuʻi demonstrations with students from various participating schools including Mālama Honua Public Charter School, Hālau Kū Māna, and Blanche Pope Elementary School.

As we rounded out the school year, we saw an increase in the number of invitations our education team received to attend off-site school visits and events. Many of our students have been showcasing their learning both on campus as well as in other venues. At their school’s third trimester hōʻike, Mālama Honua’s 1st and 2nd-grade students shared their Hoʻokuaʻāina-inspired book and film, “The Wonderful Kalo,” an adaptation of Shel Silverstein’s, “The Giving Tree.” While planning this final project, the students were adamant about coming to Kapalai to do the filming, and, according to Kumu Piiohia, were upset that she had suggested they film at a location that may have been a bit more convenient. In late May, we connected with students, kumu, and ʻohana in preparation for Blanche Pope Elementary’s 6th grade Holomua (graduation) ceremony, at which Dani, our education director, was asked to be the keynote speaker. What an honor it was to share with families about the tremendous year of learning we have had with their kids. Earlier in the spring, we went to support the same 6th graders from Blanche Pope Elementary at the CAS (Complex Area Superintendent) and Principal Hōʻike. These students shared about their experience with Hawaiian culture, ʻāina, and place-based learning, and spoke about the need for these opportunities in our schools, highlighting Hoʻokuaʻāina as one of their kumu and community partners.

Overall, we are encouraged by the shift we see in our Windward Complex Areas schools and the great interest they are showing in wanting to participate in ʻāina and culture-based programming. It seems from administration down to the classroom there is an increased desire on the part of the schools to get their students outdoors and exposed to the many excellent programs being offered at various aloha ʻāina community partner sites. After the school year finished, nearly 50 CAS, principals, administrators, and counselors from the Kailua-Kalāheo Complex Area visited our space to learn about our programming. There were many important connections made and it was clear that the intention of the school leaders is to seek out more opportunities to get their students into these spaces more frequently. Many of them expressed thanks for being a part of such a special day. We were encouraged by their enthusiasm and look forward to new connections in the following school year.

Results from our end of year survey:


Dani Espiritu, Education Specialist

Written By Dani,
Education Specialist