Summer program teaches importance of education and caring for land - Ka Leo O Hawaii: NEWS

Summer program teaches importance of education and caring for land

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013 5:00 am

The Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, along with other faculty members from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, has been involved with the Wai‘anae Mālama ‘Āina Field School, a summer program from June 3 to July 12, for 15 eighth and ninth grade Nānākuli High and Intermediate School students.

“From the school’s perspective, the program is in line with Hawai‘inuiākea’s desire to instill the importance of education early on and connect these educational experiences to viable career paths within the participants’ own communities,” said Micky Huihui, community engagement specialist for Hawai‘inuiākea.  “On July 9, the group will be visiting the Mānoa campus and accessing various departments and support offices.  We hope to de-mystify higher education and acquaint them with the opportunities available in Mānoa.”

Maenette Benham, dean of Hawai‘inuiākea, said a principle of the work of the school is to do good work in and with the community and with community partners. 

We have invested in this pilot because we know that providing young students with the opportunity to learn and become responsible for their land and natural resources through a cultural lens and sharpen their math and science skills will prepare them to be successful in school, graduate and be ready for college,” Benham said. “I am hopeful that we can find the resources to continue these important community engagement initiatives through a combination of university, philanthropic and DOE funding.

In addition to Hawai‘inuiākea, many faculty members from UH Mānoa have been involved with the program.

On June 6, John Sinton, a professor of the School of Earth Science and Technology, ran a field trip on a bus along the Wai‘anae coast.

“The main aims in the field trip and my participation in it was to better understand the geology of Wai‘anae,” Sinton said. 

Sinton also modified activities he had done with college students to meet the program’s needs. While they were in the Nānākuli Valley, Sinton talked to the students about erosion in the formation of valleys and about the remains of the original Wai‘anae volcano.

Kalehua Krug, an adviser for the College of Education, spoke to the students about being proud of who they are and taught them a chant he composed. Dr. Judith Lemus, an academic program specialist at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, spoke to them at the he‘eia fishpond about the research her interns had been doing there. Mark Heckman, outreach education specialist at HIMB, coordinated an educational tour at Coconut Island, which was led by his staff and volunteers. 

Dr. Jonathan Deenik, an associate specialist from the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, taught the students topics on social science and food security.

He included activities on how to identify soil types using an online soil survey and using that information to make interpretations for uses of the soil, measuring pH levels of various soil samples the students had collected from field sites and identifying plant growth factors.

Dr. May Okihiro, an associate professor at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, will be speaking to the class with Dr. Kelli-Ann Voloch, an assistant professor at JABSOM, about healthy living.

Dr. Kay Fukuda, PALS Project director, is helping to support the program through funding, supplies and staff support. 

 On July 9, students from the program will be participating in a tour of UH Mānoa. The 15 students will be taken to the Hawai‘inuiākea Center for Hawaiian Studies, Native Hawaiian Student Services and CTAHR at the Magoon Research Lab. 

Pauline Sato, executive and program director of the Mālama Learning Center, said the tour’s purpose is to introduce students to some of the research and activities going on at the school that connect to the Field School learning and to plant a seed in their minds about going to college in the future

“We want them to know it’s not like going to a foreign country but something very achievable, and they need to prepare to get to college by doing well at high school,” Sato said. “For most it will be their first time ever on UH’s flagship campus.”

Along with many faculty members who are participating, Allie Roman, a senior at UH Mānoa, is interning with the program. 

“I wanted to participate because of its location, time and the age range of the kids,” Roman said. “I’m an aspiring teacher, and I knew this would be a good look into a teaching setting and how the kids are. I aim to teach senior English but seeing them from eighth to ninth grade shows me a lot about the personalities and underlying eagerness that can be edged away at senior year. That eagerness is what I’d like to bring out in my future class and see alternative ways of teaching.”

Sato said the idea for the summer program came about through a collaboration with the Mālama Learning Center, Hawai‘inuiākea, Kamehameha Schools and MA‘O Farms to think of what could be done during the summer to help students succeed in school and strive for goals such as attending and graduating from college and working in careers that cared for the land. 

“The idea to work with Nānākuli High and Intermediate School was breached because there already seemed to be some headway being made in the school and they were open and ready for new ideas,” Sato said. “Most importantly, the principal was supportive if the program tied into the school’s goals, which it did.”

Hawai‘inuiākea gave the program a planning grant. Kamehameha Schools is providing funding to implement the program and MA‘O Farms is providing a part-time intern to help in all aspects, particularly in Hawaiian culture and language, and another intern who will make a short video on the program. Other funders include the UH Program for Afterschool Literacy Support and the Marisla Foundations. 

The program is a field school and consists of three days in the classroom and two days in the field. Two teachers from Nānākuli High and Intermediate School are co-teaching the program, each teaching what their strengths are. The goal of the program is to strengthen the students’ core skills in science, math and English/ language arts by connecting them to the land and their culture. Science and math is taught every day and at the successful completion of the course, students will receive one credit in science or math. STEM education, consisting of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, will be integrated into the curriculum along with Hawaiian culture and language

“There is a focus of science that correlates to the field experiences, a math focus that coordinates on eighth grade common core standards and a common English/ language arts focus with the articles that are presented for students to annotate, take notes from and summarize and finally use all this information into a final project that includes both a written and oral component,” said Terra Wight, one of the program’s teachers.

Wight said she believes the program is going great so far.

“I could not have anticipated such an organic and natural experience,” Wight said. “There have been many struggles, but each week we look back and are just amazed at the awesome experience and knowledge these kids are getting out of this.”

Jewelynn Kirkland is the second teacher for the program and said she hopes to incorporate the same type of teaching and learning they have been doing this school year. 

“Wai‘anae Mālama ‘Āina Field School at Nānākuli is coming along beautifully,” Kirkland said. “We have field time based on the topics, we are using AVID [college readiness] strategies for reading and organization, and our days are fulfilling and challenging. We, students and teachers, learn something every day.”

Sato said the students are “connecting the dots” about course subjects and how they are applied in the field and in real life. She also said they hope to expand the program during the school year as well.

I think we can do it if we can show the gains that students have made in this program, not only for themselves, but for their community,” Sato said.

Follow us on Twitter