• Connecting with the Students and the Community

    Ka Lama Education Academy & Kūkuluao Get it Done!

    Posted: January 10, 2013

    “There's something about these children - they want to learn, and you know they don't always get the best.” So, educator Alice Kawakami set out to give students in the Waiʻanae community, the best teachers she could.

    Kawakumi founded Ka Lama Education Academy (KLEA), a teacher recruitment program that produces and supports highly qualified teachers, to work on the Waiʻanae coast. Kawakami and Moana Gaspar, a KLEA graduate and now community recruiter and counselor for the Academy, were recently featured on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Nā 'Ōiwi 'Ōlino live television program. They shared details of KLEA and Kūkuluao, a program which encourages teachers to further their education, even as far as National Board Certification.

    Gaspar said she got into the KLEA program after a year of working in the cafeteria at Campbell High School. “I told myself I’m going to be stuck here the rest of my life, or I got to go college. So, fortunately, I made the best choice. So, I went back to college,” Gaspar said. She joined KLEA at Leeward Community College - Waiʻanae campus. “I didn’t know what I was going to do, and nobody needs to know, just get your butt in that door. Just get to school. Come, call me up, get to school and we’ll figure it out along the way,” she said.

    Now, Gaspar is a recruiter for the program, helping others enter the program that gave her so much success.

    Kawakami says there’s a need for qualified teachers on the Waiʻanae coast with a real connection to the community. “There’s quite a lot of teacher turnover, because there are a significant number of teachers who are hired from the continent who do not have relationships with the community, and they are not familiar the culture, but they are interested in doing good. So, they come here and they might not be even trained as teachers, but they come on a program that gives them the chance to work for two years with the DOE,” Kawakami explains.

    All teachers on the Waiʻanae coast are invited to join the Kūkuluao program, which lends further support to teachers. “Each month we usually have kind of a talk-story session and presenters. We have dinner and we kind of go on different topics that they’re interested in and a lot of times the presenters are teachers who are actually teaching on the coast,” Kawakami says.

    To learn more about the Kūkuluao & Ka Lama Education Academy, go to www.inpeace.org To review the interview, go to www.naoiwiolino.com and listen from 0:103.

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