By Jenny Engle, Director of Education
ʻAʻohe pau ka ʻike i ka hālau hoʻokāhi.
All knowledge is not learned in just one school.ʻŌlelo Noʻeau #203
The best teachers are those that open perspectives, doors, and worlds for their haumāna (students). They know that giving students the tools to find their own voices, ask their own questions, and create the kind of future they want to live in is the most powerful gift they can impart. These role models include classroom teachers, kūpuna (elders), Kumu hula, mākua (parents), and more.
We know that right now, teachers are working harder than ever, pivoting to providing students with enriching opportunities over a new virtual medium (and working tirelessly connecting with parents and other networks to ensure that all students have access, during this extended time at home).
We asked a few of our partner educators to describe a teacher that impacted them and ultimately influenced the teacher they are today.
Ms. Alison Yasuoka, 3/4th grade teacher at Voyager PCS
“Having Dr. Isabella Aiona Abbott as my ethnobotany professor would forever change how I see the world around me. She made me realize the importance of native plants and our need to protect them. Our interactions showed me how teachers can inspire their students to make a difference in the lives of others, and in the way they see and care for the ʻāina. (I always bring her, and my other inspirational kumu with me as I pass on their aloha and knowledge to my students.)”
Mr. Stacy Prellberg, 4/5th grade teacher at Hanahau‘oli School:
“I think the most influential would be a teacher by the name of Shannon Lowrey, who was one of my professors in my undergrad. No other teacher made me feel as important and insignificant at the same time as she did, and I mean that in the highest of compliments. She got me to really think about what it means to be an educator and to never forget the child. The work of education is huge, which made me feel like what I was doing was important to the whole, but also because it’s so big, I feel like I could never make a difference.
Shannon challenged me to think about learners as individuals and be the best educator I could be for them, because sure I may not ever make a difference on a large scale, but I can always make a difference to an individual. She really challenged me on knowing why I was doing what I was doing. If I don’t know why or have the evidence to support what I’m doing, I need to keep digging. This idea has led me to transformative places that keep me sharp, flexible, and relentless. She’s the kind of teacher I want to be for my students: caring and empowering.”
Ms. Mamie Lawrence Gallagher, Mo‘O School Elementary Guide and Director
“Growing up on Maui, I was fortunate to have the same teacher from 1st-6th grades. Ms. Fish was commanding, we respected her, and she seemed to know everything, but what I remember most was her warmth and wonder. Every lesson was told in story form, and I was absolutely hooked.
At lunch, she would sit on a desk and gab with us – losing all decorum. Outside, sometimes we’d be playing dodgeball, and with skirts bundled, here she’d come to steal our ball! But in the classroom, it was back to grace and ideas. She taught us how to code-switch, and she showed us that it was safe to reveal the many aspects of our humanity.
When you learn with the same teacher for so many years, you live a lot of life together. It is quite a gift on both sides. I hope that in sharing my life with children and families year-over-year, I can be someone else’s, Ms. Fish. I understand now, through the love I have for my haumana, how much I must have meant to her too.”
We also wanted to share a video (created by Maui District Television) that traces the work of Lahaina Intermediate Teacher Tricia Calhoon after participating in an NEH funded professional development workshop held at Mānoa Heritage Center in partnership with Hawai‘i Department of Education Education Specialists Rosanna Fukuda (Social Studies), Dr. Petra Schatz (ELA), and UH Mānoa, College of Education Professor Dr. Amber Strong Makaiau.
“The PD course,Connecting Educators Through Native Hawaiian Resources Part 2: A Focus on Civic Engagement, offered by Mānoa Heritage Center, HI DOE, and UH Mānoa College of Education, planted the seed for the curricula that are illustrated in this video. The educators modeled an engaging learning experience as we explored how to create learning units that are based on inquiry. They provided guidance in creating essential questions, how to structure the unit, and collaboration with other educators. As a student in this workshop, I learned from experts of the Hawaiian language, crafts, and Hawaiʻi State Constitutional law. I strived to create a similar learning experience in which my students learned from experts in their field, connected with the Hawaiian practices through making leis and working in the loʻi, and addressed their civic responsibility to help preserve Hawaiʻi’s natural beauty by addressing the impact plastic has on the environment. The PD course taught at Mānoa Heritage Center inspired and supported me to create something beautiful and meaningful for my students. I still refer back to what I learned in these three days more than any other training I have received in my educational experience.”
Mahalo Dr. Makaiau, Dr. Schatz, and Ms. Fukuda for your dedication and hard work and for inspiring teachers like Ms. Calhoon!
Do you have a teacher that impacted your life today? Share aloha with them by leaving a short description of how they influenced you below.