Nice to get a good Amazon review of Swimming in Hong Kong! A great way to kick off the usual December busy-ness. Next week is action packed and includes Stephen Aldred‘s arrival to the Islands, the kid’s final elementary school winter songfest.
I need to stop here this holiday season and give thanks to my son’s school and to state something very profound about my child’s public school education experience here in Honolulu.
Our child has received a high quality education from a public school in Hawaii.
Noelani Elementary School has changed our family’s life. Schooling has not been easy for our family, and there has been no perfect situation, but it is an exemplary school in that it has serious qualified faculty dedicated to the teaching profession.The school stands as a testament to what public education can be with strong leadership, a good community, and solid teachers.
Similar to many places overseas, Hawaii has a strong private school culture. While I do not know the history of this, I believe that it would stem from its colonial beginnings pre-statehood, and the majority-minority factor of its population, wherein a large swathe of the white minority would not want to mix with the non-white, primarily laboring social/economic class, within an academic setting. In any event, a few years ago, our nuclear family went from a fee-paying international school in Hong Kong, to a public school in Hawaii.
My extended family here in Hawaii claims a public and private school education background. My uncle is a die-hard Iolani guy. We’re talking he would live and die by his Iolani loyalties. An Iolani pal of his even hauled out to Mui Wo, Lantau with a Quicksilver outfit for my toddler when we lived there. That’s right. Uncle Asau (in his 70s) took a ferry, taxi, ferry, and then walked a mile to get to my village house through sweaty heat with his walking stick navigating around the cows and water buffalo to gift my son that outfit Aunty Sondra picked up! This is to me, the niece of his Iolani buddy! My cousins attended Mid-Pac, as did my maternal grandfather who played first base for the team from 1918-1920, and I taught at Island Pacific Academy, a school with a strong community and truly truly bright and kind students. I got teary-eyed every time the kids sang the oli, no kidding. At the same time, my grandma went to McKinley High when it was a brand-new school, my mom’s cousin played on the football team there, and when I first came back to Hawaii, mom took me to eat at Sekiya’s across from her old high school Kaimuki.
I’m a product of a range of both private and public schools. I attended Penn Elementary in North Liberty, Iowa where I studied under the watchful eye of Mrs. Turnipseed in third grade, and ardently read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books (and asked my Kunia born mom to churn butter). In the fifth grade in Iowa, I was taught about South Africa’s Apartheid system and exposed to ideas like the Equal Rights Amendment that my peers at Phillips Academy Andover actually even laughed at back in the day. Uhmm. Yep. I received a phenomenal education at Andover and credit the institution with my critical thinking foundation (good, bad, strong, weak) and shaping my feelings about the wide ranging implications that accompany the acquisition of formal knowledge within elite institutions, But yes, there are pluses and minuses to every educational situation! Remember this!
So, this is simply a short post to those who may be wondering about the quality of public education in Hawaii. There is a wide range, just like the quality of private education. And dedicated teachers are everywhere.