Kanuikapono Public Charter School

Established on the lush, and volcanic western slopes of the Big Island, Coffee Times owner, Les Drent, roasted, and sold his first pound of Kona coffee in 1993. Five years later, Les moved his Coffee Times roasting operation to the beautiful island of Kauai, and established the Blair Estate shade grown, organic coffee farm in 2001. While his passion for farming is now deeply rooted in the Kauai soil, he continues to be a strong proponent for the preservation of 100% Kona coffee.

Kanuikapono Public Charter School
By: Lois Ann Ell

January 9, 2012

Hawai’i is home to 31 public Charter Schools across the state, offering children the option of alternative, progressive methods of education without the high cost of private schools. In fact, they are tuition-free. According to the Hawai’i Charter School Administration Office, Charter schools are defined as “state-legislated, legally independent, innovative, outcome-based public schools operating under contract.”

There are four Public Charter Schools (PCS) on Kaua’i, and three of them are Hawaiian immersion, meaning primarily using Hawaiian language in the classroom. On the northeast side of Kaua’i in the rural town of Anahola, Kanuikapono Learning Center, a PCS, is unique in that it is focused on Hawaiian cultural immersion. The Hawaiian language is woven in to the classroom, but not spoken primarily as it is in the other three PCS on Kaua’i.

Its inaugural year was in 2002, and the school has been growing its student enrollment and campus since. With approximately 120 students currently, it serves Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade. As the parent of a first grader at this school, I can attest it’s full of teachers, administrators, parents and students who have heart, who aren’t afraid to work hard and get dirty and take paths less traveled.

Kanuikapono holds high the values of community, Hawaiian culture, and learning from nature, or the technical term, environmental stewardship. A saying that is often repeated at this school is that it’s not just students who enroll at the school, it’s the whole family. Makua, or parents, are asked to volunteer 12 hours of their time each semester. Whether the task is playground duty, fundraising, cleaning, landscaping or other duties, families help to keep the school running efficiently, and as a result, become part of the school community. When your sweat equity is put into something, the rewards are greater and deeper.

Perhaps it’s the small class sizes, or the parent involvement, or the highly qualified teachers, but Kanuikapono not only met and passed but excelled in the Annual Yearly Progress national testing this past year, under the No Child Left Behind Act. Academic rigor is a priority for the school, achieved in creative ways. Singapore Math is the mathematics curriculum is used at the school, a unique program that gained recognition when Singapore ranked first in international math and science studies in 1995 and 1999. The curriculum focuses on creative thinking and problem solving skills, with students grasping increasingly abstract math concepts in a faster and more sensible approach.

The beginning and end of each school day is marked by the piko, where the school—students and staff—gather out on the large flat of land scattered with grass and red dirt overlooking the white-capped ocean. A circle is formed, linked by hands, and thanks are offered to each other, to the land, to whatever the day has given. It is the glimpse into what makes Kanuikapono a school community living and breathing the Hawaiian culture in a unique, reverent way.

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Categories: History & Culture, Island Life |

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