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Principal Stacie Kunihisa » Principal's Blog

Principal's Blog

Welcome to my blog! I am excited to be using this as a communication tool for our parents, students, teachers, and community members. This blog is intended to serve as a vehicle for informing upcoming events and giving you an opportunity to hear from me. By pressing the Subscribe link (on the right), you will get notifications via e-mail when I update my blog. I look forward to another great school year with you!
 

Recent Posts

February 7, 2020

Happy New Year! It's been just about a month since we've returned from Winter Break and there's so much to share already! First of all, our entire school (including all of our students) are about to release a #schoolchallenge online. Stay tuned for this truly EPIC video. If you aren't following us already - be sure to see our Twitter and Instagram accounts and follow us today!
 
Although 2020 just began, we are actively planning for the next school year and we want to hear your voice! As we gear up for the next school year we want to share some highlights:
1) YOU CAN EARN A BOOK FAIR BUCK to be used at our book fair by filling out our survey: Click HERE
2) We are requesting an extra Waiver Day for SY 2020-2021 to cover Youth First Aide Mental Health training on August 4- so if it is approved, we will start school with students one day later than the DOE calendar shows.
 
On another note, right before the break, we applied for three innovation grants and we were awarded not one, not two, but ALL THREE! Which means over $25,000 going directly to your child's education. The areas we will be working on improving are coding/drama, news on the move, and academies. Congratulations to our team of teachers- Mrs. Mata, Ms. Apao, and Mr. Ogawa who worked hard to secure this additional funding.
 
NEW, NEW, NEW!!!!
Speaking of awesome stuff- YOU CAN WATCH US LIVE every Monday morning. Our Kanoelani Rainbow News can be found online on our website or by clicking HERE to the weekly links. Find out what clubs are doing, what sports are starting and to hear the latest news. We even feature students of the week and classrooms in action.
 
Finally, as we reflect on some tragedies that have come our way recently, we are reminded of the true importance and value of Choose Love and its concepts. Take time daily to stop and fill someone's bucket sincerely and forgive someone that's been on your mind today. You never know what tomorrow brings- good or bad- so make each day count!

December 17, 2019

Happy Holidays!!!
 
I wanted to open with a recent tweet I made regarding Courage, one of our themes in our Choose Love movement. 
 
Did you know? The root of the word courage is cor- (like CORE beliefs) - the Latin word for heart. In on e of its earliest forms, the word courage meant "to speak one's mind by telling one's heart. How much moral courage do you have? The easiest thing to do is follow the crowd." 
 
As we head into the holiday season and into the New Year, this is a time for reflection and goal setting. We reflect daily on how effectively we are serving this community and your child. Besides equipping every child with academic knowledge and skills, we are truly committed to building character, perseverance and grit. Part of our job collectively is to allow children to fail, allow children to struggle and allow children to make their own decisions and face natural consequences. At school, we are in essence "substitute parents," or "in loco parentis." 
 
A few tips to remember as we raise these kids together and we have some time to reflect and set goals at school and at home:
1. 7 to 1 rule. For every negative comment (especially during a conflict with your child or anyone else for that matter), there MUST be 7 positives. This works like magic in the classrooms and honestly in homes as well! What is your ration? (Compassion in Action)
2. Kids NEED clear and consistent boundaries. As much as we want to love kids and give them what they want to ensure they are happy, a big part of providing structure is very clear expectations and consistent, respectful consequences. Are you setting clear boundaries? (Courage)
3. Strongest muscle in your body? Everyone has the most powerful weapon that an destroy a child- a tongue. Words cut deeply and can last a lifetime. Word are either bucket fillers or dippers. What is your percentage?
 
Choose Love is truly impacting not only our school but our Waipio community and its because of OUR effort. WE > ME - thank you for a being a part of our commitment! Enjoy your break and continue to bucket fill others in your thoughts, actions, and words.
 
P.S.- If you're not already following us- keep up with the exciting things going on at school on Instagram and on Twitter!
 
Instagram: kanoelanielementaryschool
Twitter: @staciekunihisa

November 1, 2019

If you didn't have a chance to swing by and visit the launch of the "Stuck on Aloha" book release late October let me paint a picture for you. Imagine incredible community leaders Like Senator Breene Harimoto, who is battling cancer and Boy Scouts Troop 75, who teach how to deal with adversities, sitting alongside our three students proudly signing books. The community came out in droves to show their love and support for the book contributors under a giant white canopy with leis, balloons, and incredible entertainment! It was a sight to see.
 
Sebastian, Jaycee, and Owen courageously shared their own story of perseverance and grit in this book and I couldn't be prouder. They shed light on the incredible work of everyone in our school and our Choose Love program so please be proud of your child and our entire staff. The book will hit Amazon soon and represents our efforts.
 
The ability to hit failures and setbacks and truly bounce back is a skill that we must continue to cultivate. At our school we try to strike a "balance" between academic knowledge and critical thinking/problem-solving skills with "soft skills" -how we treat each other, handle stress and tolerate differences. In short, we value both the IQ of your child as much as the EQ. (Intelligence Quotient and Emotional Quotient)
 
In addition to this "balance," we are working hard to continue to increase student voice and choice. Around the corner is our first round of "Pre-Academies." Aligned to Pearl City High School's Academy structure we are offering classes like Sewing, Coding, and Basic Foreign Languages. Partners such as Island Tumblers Gymnastics and UH West Oahu will be coming in to teach classes to increase relevancy and engagement.
 
I want to thank our families for coming out to support our annual Craft Fair- this was our most successful one yet! Kudos to our teachers and staff who volunteered their time to make this day possible. Thank you also for all who attended our Pumpkin Carving night and had a chance to show your carving skills! 
 
Special thanks to our business partner American Savings Bank for choosing us to be apart of their Kids Curling Clinic (see November Chronicle for details). Our business partnerships are an integral part of the education of the whole child, and we are grateful for their help.
 
Finally, a huge congratulations to the Pearl City Complex and our very own Mr. Ogawa for being three of the four winners of the PAEMST award!
 
 

October 2, 2019

As we come to the close of the first quarter, I want to express my deepest gratitude for the entire community working to raise our children of Waipio. We hosted a Business Breakfast to make community connections earlier this month and had over 60 businesses represented. Many of them will be partnering with us to offer authentic academies and real-world project-based learning experiences. We cannot do this job of raising the community alone and I can't wait to see what these relationships bring.
 
On another note, I want to pause a bit and share my own thoughts about the upcoming trip I will be taking to Washington DC over the Fall Break. As principal representing the State of Hawaii, I am beyond humbled and blessed to go as a team leader of Kanoelani. We are a special place with warm hearts and bucket filling attitudes. One of our new parents recently shared he knows that we work things out through words and connections instead of fists and anger. Even as adults and even in your homes we MUST CHOOSE LOVE and have courageous conversations filled with grace and compassion. We MUST strive high to set lofty goals and hold each other accountable and we MUST simply care more and be more.
 
I am excited to greet all 49 other principals and receive a Golden Bell that perpetually represents ALL of our hard work. This trip is for every teacher that stays far beyond a workday, every custodian that goes that extra mile to keep our campus safe and clean and every staff member who chooses to wake up each day and handle so many emotions, challenges, and situations on a daily basis that inevitably happens with 800 kids daily.
 
On your end, I ask that you take some time to look into the Choose Love program home component and make just one change before the holiday season that will positively impact your home. These small ripples will add to our momentum and shift the dynamics of Hawaii one day at a time. I want to end by proudly sharing that we are taking a team of teachers and students to present at the upcoming Schools of the Future Conference and showcase our efforts to merge project-based learning with Compassion in Action. PBL + SEL = WHOLE CHILD! Enjoy your Fall Break!

August 30, 2019

Welcome back to school! I'm wondering if you heard about the exciting celebration we had at our Welcome Back assembly, complete with some staff members dancing, not me of course!!! If they have I was dancing, don't believe them! Seriously though, it was such an amazing time celebrating the return to Kanoelani in such a fun way. Some of our special guests including Miss Asia 2019, Camille Yano, who is also a proud Kanoelani alumni; the recently crowned Miss Aloha 2020, Tiffany Ducaycay; and Junior Miss Hawaii Cosmos 2019, Alexis Bugarin. What a treat it was to hear some words of wisdom from a graduate of Kanoelani sharing her ideas around our word of the year... Commitment!
 
We are ramping up to provide another year full of bucket filling and choosing love. To that end, we selected a movie that emulates our deep commitment, Toy Story 4. As demonstrated by Woody, we are in this journey together and promise to always practice courage, gratitude, forgiveness, and compassion in action.
 
At the end of August, we will begin a new system across campus called W.I.N., "What I Need." We will focus on giving students more voice and choice in their learning as well as provide extra time for revisiting concepts that need attention. Services school wide will be deliberately planned so that each child can work on what they need.
 
Finally, just as a heads up, we have many community and business partners knocking at our door to help us out! Early September, we will be hosting a Community Connections breakfast and so far we have close to 50 people planning to attend. Stay tuned to hear more about how our local businesses and community organizations will be supporting your child's journey.

May 23, 2019

This school year has been absolutely "incredible!" Everyone can feel proud of the multitude of accomplishments we have achieved. To cap it all off, our Spring Showcase- "A Time for Music" was unbelievable. When I look at my own children, my desire is to raise well-rounded, well-balanced problem solvers who have heart and passion. The same goes for our Kanoelani students. We collectively believe in developing the whole child and the amount of time and energy that went into this event demonstrates that commitment. Test scores are important but not as valuable as character, heart, and drive!
 
As we close the year, I want to thank four people who will be leaving our family at the end of the year. Fond farewells go out to:
 
Janet Andrade, Kindergarten Teacher
Twinkle Hayashi, Music Teacher
Shelly Sumile, Educational Assistant
Julieta Gatdula, Classroom Cleaner
 
Mrs. Andrade has been a tremendous asset to our Kindergarten team for many years and has been an anchor to the grade level. This year she served as the Grade Level Chairperson and helped lead the team of teachers committed to our youngest students. Mrs. Hayashi has been at Kanoelani for the past three years. She taught music for all grade levels, was the performing arts director, and coordinated all performances both in and out of school. Mrs. Sumile has been at our school for the past five years and is ready to move to a new path in her life. Mrs. Gatdula, an eight-year classroom cleaner has decided to retire and continue business with sewing and alternations. We truly wish all of them luck in the next chapter of their lives.
 
Finally, I want to remind everyone that although school will soon be out of session, my hope is that our efforts to Choose Love and Bucket Fill continue during the break. Take some time to rest and relax but always remember to find ways to show Courage, Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Compassion in Action. I always have to take brave breaths to keep a smile on my face and my blood pressure down. Please do the same and thanks for your endless support for Kanoelani and your child!
 

April 26, 2019

What a whirlwind it has been these past few months! Thanks to everyone for truly nurturing such an incredibly stimulating school! As I stop and take a moment to survey the landscape of our school, I see students stepping out of their comfort zone to innovate and create, I see teachers and staff pushing personal limits and inventing new opportunities for kids and I see heart and passion everywhere! Even with just a month of school left we are starting a new Upstanders Club to continue to combat bullying and a brand new Rainbows Recyclers Club that stemmed from students wanting to make a difference. Next year every classroom will have colored bins to sort out recyclables!!!
 
Here are a few celebrations I'd like to highlight:
  • Lemonade Alley- Awesome job to our Narwolves team! The lemonade was and the goodies that I ate were scrumptious!!!
  • Third place in the Gaming Event
  • JPO Competition- 100%!!! Perfect! Excellent work JPOs!
  • Grace Ann Kaai- Sew a Lei for Memorial Day Honorable Mention
 
Testing season is in full swing and it is time to apply all of the learning throughout the year. Please help your children in Grades 3-6 prepare for the SmarBalanced Assessment and ensure they get a good night's sleep and a satisfying breakfast. I have so much confidence that we will meet our own school goals and once again exceed state expectations in all tested content areas!!!
 
Finally, I just want to say a heartfelt mahalo to every single staff member, student, and parent who took time to congratulate me for the Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award. I was beyond surprised and did NOT expect to win. It takes a lot to truly surprise me and boy was I surprised. The award is a symbol of WE>ME!!! I just want to convey clearly that this is THE BEST STAFF in the state of Hawaii and I would venture to say in the United States!!! Thanks for your support, families, because we are truly lucky to have each other!
 

March 12, 2019

Spring Break is next week! The third quarter has been absolutely "incredible" and I am so proud to share out what's been happening. The new year has been flying by and like superheroes, our staff and students have been learning more and caring more than ever.
 
First off, let's celebrate our overall FIRST PLACE win at the recent Math Olympiad! Alexander Apio and Kou Hirohata also took home the first place trophy for the Rubix Cube Challenge and the Flash Round respectively. I hear the Math Olympiad team went above and beyond by spending extra hours completing math work at home. Kudos to our team and advisors Mrs. An and Ms. Kang.
 
WELCOME TO OUR NEW PARENT LIAISON... MRS. TRAN
(parent of Vy and Andy Tran)
Another huge leap forward for our school are students stepping up to take the lead. I want to recognize Mrs. Tran, parent of Vy Tran, who has been working hard on her own time to follow the dreams of her child. Five students from Ms. Powell's class in grade 5 came up with the idea to work on Lemonade Alley. The kids and parents have been working hard to create an original recipe and they will be selling it at Lemonade Alley on April 20 at Pearlridge -all proceeds will be donated to our school. This student-driven project is helping them work on math, oral communication (they have to do a commercial and perform a song and dance in front of a live audience), graphic design and interviewing skills. Not only is it a real world application but also it is entirely created and led students! Mahalo to the team who are following their passions and extending the learning beyond the school day.
Vy Tran, Rhylie Marques, Kaylie Anne Kasik, Naomi Manmano
 
One more example of student-led learning is the group of students who just came to my office, took a brave breath and presented their pitch to work with Kokua Foundation. They will start an entire recycling program at our school! This includes bins in all classrooms to help recycle with the primary focus on saving our Corals! The project-based learning that initiated this idea was a focus on how to combat coral bleaching. An amazing pitch from Jenna Liang, Ian Kawamura, and Brennan Nagamine who all had to take a brave breath before walking into my office.
 
Finally, we just met with Hawthorne CAT (the bulldozer, forklift company) because they wanted to begin a partnership with us. This year along we have been blessed with over $10,000 in monetary contributions from our awesome business partners. Bottom line is, there is a lot going on in the realm of growth, leadership, and passion at Kanoelani for both student AND adults and I can't wait to see what the fourth quarter has in store for us all! 

February 1, 2019

Happy New Year! We are looking forward to second semester in so many ways. Before we look ahead let's take a quick peek back at the end of last year. Thank you to ALL of the participants who entertained us at Kanoelani's Got Talent. It was beyond amazing to see so much talent and heart. Mahalo also for Concert Glee who sang their hearts out at Waipio Shopping Center in December. Let's not forget the successful Book Swap where kids could trade their books for ones they haven't read yet.
 
Looking ahead, we are anxious and excited about hosting the Choose Love Conference tomorrow, Saturday, February 2nd with close to 400 educators participating. Special thanks to our faculty and staff who are working hard to partner with Ka'elepulu Elementary to host this event. We will be welcoming Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, Deputy Superintendent Phyllis Unebasami as well as Complex Area Superintendents Keith Hui and Lanelle Hibbs. Senator Michelle Kidani and Representative Ryan Yamane will be here to support the efforts. The area businesses are donating so many items to support the school and we value these partnerships tremendously. 
 
Financial Contributors
American Savings Bank
Hope Chapel Pearl West
 
Community Supporters
Boy Scouts of America Troop 32
Dunkin' Hawaii
Grace Fellowship Church
Heather Nekoba
Kreative Kolors
McDonald's Waipio
Paradise Kettle Corn
Paradise Beverages
Promotions in Paradise
Rachel's Lei Stand
Rokaru Shabu Shabu
Surfivivor
 
Meanwhile, back in the classrooms, teachers and students in grades 3-6 are busily engaging in problem-solving and applying learning to prepare for the Smarter Balanced Assessment which is right around the corner.  Students are setting personal goals and working to show academic growth in this annual assessment. Please watch the calendar for dates and times of testing.
 
SHARE YOUR VOICE! We really, REALLY want to hear from you as we begin to create our Academic Plan for next year. Please visit the website here and complete the survey before our Read to Me Family Night to get a book fair buck to use at the Scholastic Book Fair. Turn in the last page of the survey to your child's teacher and we will give your child a free buck ($1.00 value)! See you on Friday, February 22!
 
Continue to Choose Love! 

The month of February is Social and Emotional Learning Awareness Month. Not only should we take care of our bodies by exercising and eating good, but it's also important to make sure our minds are healthy too. Being proactive and taking an initiative in your mental health has proven to reduce anxiety, addiction, and behavioral issues while increasing your physical and emotional well being. 
 
If you haven't done so yet, check out Choose Love Movement Initiative. You can also download the At Home Choose Love program. 
 

December 17, 2018

What a first semester it has been!!! A few HUGE celebrations are worthy of noting up front to showcase the hard work of our Community Liaison team and our business partnerships we are working hard to grow:
 
1) We just WON a $20,000 grant from the Taikai Transition Center Network to build a Lokahi Lounge for our ELL families to access extra supports as they transition
 
2) Pearl City Shopping Center donated $1,000 to help support school needs
 
3) Roy Yamaguchi donated $1,000 to help fund a special celebration for our deserving faculty and staff
 
4) Alexander and Baldwin gave us $1,000 matching funds for the gift bag project that our students worked on
 
5) American Savings Bank donated 250 blankets for Rainbow Fun Day and over $500 for student projects
 
6) Tony Group, Pearl Hawaii Federal Credit Union, and Hawaii Community Foundation provided over $500 to the school this month to support learning
 
7) Home Depot Pearl City donated all of the paint for our mural that will be painted by all students in January
 
8) Bricks for Kids, American Savings Bank, and Scouts for American came to judge our Shark Tank and provide monetary sponsorships for the kids!
 
We have been busy at school maintaining the rigor of our academic program and supporting the social-emotional learning through Choose Love and all the while pushing ourselves to learn more, care more, and be more! 
 
Recently, grades 1-6 have gone through the first round of Academies. This opportunity was provided to introduce students to the Pearl City High School Academies that are offered to support career and college options. We want to support student INTEREST and VOICE and truly give them some options at an early age. From the looks of it, every child had a blast! Kudos to all of our staff who went above and beyond to plan and execute academies.
 
Finally, if you haven't heard already, private donors gave us $29,000 this year to host a statewide Choose Love conference and we are gearing up to host over 300 educators from across the state. Teachers will be opening up their rooms to showcase both student work and instructional materials as others are coming to find out more about how to help students (and adults) learn to deal with stress, setback, and failure. What an honor to support schools from across the state!
 
As you head off into this holiday season, continue to BUCKET FILL and remember that you cannot do life alone. WE > ME is not the only foundation of our school, but the foundation of Waipio. Enjoy your break and see you next year!!!
 

November 20, 2018

Our literary parade was an INCREDIBLE success (for those of you that didn't get to see the administration in all of our glory, we were dressed as the Incredibles)!!! Although that takes some time away from academic instruction, it is a deliberate choice to have events that balance our days. To me, school is about truly developing the whole child, offering lasting memories of fun and friendships and most importantly teaching each other how to deal with personal setbacks, frustration, and disappointment.
 
The idea of a helicopter parent who protects their child to no end has been around for a long time. But recently I've learned about the concept of a bulldozer parent who clears the path, kicks away any boulders and never lets their child fail. They literally bulldoze people or things that stand in the way of any obstacle that could cause failure or disappointment. We cannot do that. We must let kids fail and figure out how to get back up and persevere. To the end, focus not on the destination but on the journey that we take day in and day out.
 
Speaking of successful journey, a huge congratulations are in order for our 5th and 6th-grade basketball teams who left their hearts out on the courts. Check out our Instagram to see some amazing plays. A HUGE mahalo goes to our coaches Mr. Joyce, Mr. Ho, and Mr. Arreola who all volunteered hours and hours of their own time preparing for this tournament.
 
Another huge success has been our staff presentations. Our school team was invented to an i-Ready conference in Seattle and we had the opportunity to share out how our students are setting goals, tracking data, and celebrating academic growth. In addition, we were selected to present at the Schools of the Future Conference for our Choose Love program. Again visit our Instagram to see pictures of the events. At both conferences, our teachers did an excellent job of showcasing our children and the work we do every day. You can be proud of the efforts to develop the whole child that your child's teacher does daily. 
 
As we head into the holiday season, be thankful for the blessings you have no matter how stressful times can get. Spend time bucket filling each other and yourself. Reflect on your approach to life... let us celebrate failures and setbacks as a community and see them as a chance to get back up and try again.
 
 

 
"Thankfulness is the beginning of happiness."
 
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and there are many things we can be thankful for. I am thankful that Kanoelani Elementary continues to strive for excellence in each classroom, to grow stronger, and to Choose Love.
 
Our teachers and staff continue to amaze me by their dedication and love they have for teaching and inspiring our children. I also want to celebrate the incredible support of our parents and community. Helping our children grow and succeed is one of the most important things we can do. This is why I am so grateful for everyone at Kanoelani Elementary and the community members that help support us. Thank you for being such an important part of our children's lives.
 
During this upcoming holiday season, take the time to celebrate with your friends and family. Bucket fill one another to show your gratitude. 
 

October 3, 2018

Our scores are in! See our Kanoelani Chronicle for our SBA data in all content areas tested. We exceeded the state expectations and showed growth! We applaud every single family and child who took that test last year and supported the effort to showcase teaching and learning. Our science scores went up once again and we want to recognize Mr. Richard Brian Ogawa, our STEM campus lead for his ongoing support. Speaking of "RB," we want to send him a HUGE SHOUT OUT for being selected as a Hawaii state-level finalist for the 2018 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). 
 
Another celebration is our invitation to present at an i-Ready national conference in Washington as well as our School of the Future Conference coming up in November. This is a testament to the awesome things occurring across our campus.
 
Speaking of i-Ready, this academic universal screener helped us once again get baseline data to help drive instruction as well as set classroom and student goals for reading and math. Keep in mind it is only one test and not the end all be all as teachers also rely on classwork, and formative and summative assessments to determine progress. In science, all grade levels are going through intensive training to continue developing real-world project-based learning projects that increase relevancy and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). 
 
As you know, at Kanoelani, it's much more than just a focus on academics. We are passionate and truly dedicated to the development of the whole child. With much trepidation mixed with excitement, we plan to host a statewide Choose Love conference this coming February for teachers and administrators. Can you believe within three weeks of opening, registration filled up completely and we have a waiting list? We will have over 250 educators from across the state including outer islands, charter, public, and private schools. Teachers, district staff, state leadership, and many more will be here ranging from preschool all the way to post-secondary instructions. What a huge honor it will be to showcase the efforts of your children and our staff as we grow one another with grace and love.
 
Every year, the entire Kanoelani staff focuses on ONE word that drives our collective efforts. This year our word is CHANGE. In so many ways, teachers and staff are working hard to embody that concept with peers, parents, and most importantly, students! Student voice opportunities are increasing and teachers are challenging the status quo to stretch beyond our limits and change right along with this generation of students and their needs.
 
I can't wait to see what the rest of the year brings! 
 

American Savings Bank initiated their volunteer program, Seeds of Service in 2005. They have donated over 22,000 volunteer service hours!  ASB team members give up their time and talents to schools and community organizations throughout the Hawaiian islands. This year, we were chosen as one of the schools serviced on Oahu. 
 
Over a 100 volunteers came to our campus on Saturday, September 15th. Volunteers helped beautify our campus by repainting our buildings, sidewalks, and our some of our furniture. Other volunteers helped our teachers complete clerical tasks. We are very grateful for their time and help. 
 
Thank you to the American Savings Bank Team and Volunteers!!!