August 2017 Newsletter

Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School Newsletter

August 31, 2017

Facility Update

Big strides are happening in relation to our future home! We are currently in the midst of lease negotiations with a special property we hope to secure soon. Out of respect for the property owners and management, as well as the nature of negotiations and the fact that a lease is not signed, we will keep the details under wraps until we can say for sure we have a home. But rest assured that both sides are eager and excited for it to happen. We can not wait to share the news when the ink is dry!


While a lease is being drawn up, our efforts have begun to look toward fund raising. In the last month we have submitted an application for both Walmart Grant and Scheidel Foundation grant.

We are happy to announce that for the entire month of September, you can donate to our school when you shop at Foodland in Waipouli shopping center in Kapa`a or at Foodland in Princeville. Foodland’s annual matching gifts program, “Give Aloha”, encourages their maika’i customers to donate up to $249 to their favorite local non-profit organization. All you have to do is give our code number 78915 at checkout and donation of $5 -$249. Look for our banner at Foodland Kapaa with our donation code 78915 in case you forget! We will receive 100% of your Give Aloha donations as well as an additional matching portion from Foodland. Donations will go towards building better classrooms with more opportunities for students to engage in hands-on projects. If you were willing to pay the $40 for registration for your child to attend Alaka`i, please consider donating that amount during September. Foodland gives us your $40 plus a percentage. Last year, the return was $40 = $53!


Board Business

Welcome onto our governing board, Rick Eckert!! Although he and his wife Judy are new residents of Kaua`i, Rick is jumping in head first to support alternative education on our island. He was recently hired by KIUC to serve as Financial Planning and Strategy Manager and his extensive experience serving on boards, both corporate and non profit, will be a great benefit to us.

We regretfully say good-bye to Sheryl Busch, our CPA and Treasurer of the board. We wish her well, though she will be difficult to replace for Sheryl has 20 years of experience in charter school financial matters. We now need someone to serve on Alakai’s governing board as Treasurer. It would be most helpful if someone has bookkeeping knowledge to help us in opening Alaka`i school. Please contact us at if you or someone you know is interested in volunteering for a great cause – Education for our Youths on Kauai!.


Have you filled out our volunteer form yet? Once we secure our school site, we will be organizing fundraising and enrollment outreach. Please let us know if you or anyone you recommend is able to volunteer for a great cause by signing up HERE. If you do not have time to volunteer or do not live on Kaua`i but would like to make a donation, you can do so on our website via Paypal.

Community Outreach

Alakai School will have an information booth and sign-up sheet for families interested in receiving enrollment applications at the Bridge For Peace Festival to be held at the Veteran Center, Saturday, September 16, 2017 from 10 am – 4 pm. This will be our third year of having a booth at their event. A special thank you to Brittany Steinbeck for volunteering to ‘man’ the booth. We will also gift a luggage tag for any $5 donations.

Project Based Learning at Home

Get to know your family history and build close family bonds with an ancestry project.

This is especially important in our island community for Kanaka to restore and perpetuate Hawaiian culture yet it’s also an excellent way for malihini to maintain connection with their overseas relatives.

Have your child come up with a list of interview questions for his or her elder family members. Record the interviews and share with the rest of the family. Inspire and allow for story telling, discuss how the world and our lives are different now compared to the generations before.


July 2017 Newsletter

Aloha Friends of Alaka’i O Kaua’i,

Facility Update

Our governing board has been very busy creating proposals for and having meetings with both county and state leaders. We are asking for help in securing a location, either temporary or permanent. We have been successful in getting some support in our search. We are also following leads obtained from these meetings, and we know that we really do need to get a site secured as soon as we can. Everything rests on this major piece of our puzzle and it is our main focus currently. For if we are successful, there will still be a long process to approve a site for school use as well as continue to meet the assurances required by the Hawaii State Charter Commission who has given us a deadline of December 15th for submission of a lease for our school site.

Mahalo nui loa to the Governor’s office liaison Carrice Gardner, State Department of Land and Natural Resources Wesley Matsunaga, State Representative Nadine Nakamura, State Senator and Senate President Ron Kouchi, and County Councilman Mason Chock. We really appreciate the time they took to listen, speak with, and advise us. Also, mahalo to Ka`aina Hull in the County Planning Department who has been a great help.

At this point we know using state land as well as county land is not a possibility for us to open in 2018. The required Environmental Impact Study alone for either state or county land is a long and expensive process that could take up to 2 years and $60,000. Therefore, in order to open in 2018 we will need either a privately owned property that we can lease or private property that is donated to us.

The Good News: We are in the process of proposing to two locations in Kapa`a. The first is an old school building that is mostly unused and that we hope to occupy when we open until we establish a permanent location. The second is vacant land that would require buying or leasing portable classrooms. We know that once we get open, build our community and establish our successful track record, then we are eligible for grants and other support that can help toward building our own school.

Another great connection we have made is with the country’s leading education investment group, EPR Properties, that helps charter schools establish facilities. Mahalo to Kurt Last who helped connect us and hosted our meeting at his office in Kapa`a. Since we are opening small with 165 students, which means a smaller budget (especially with the inequitable per-pupil funding Hawaii currently gives charter schools), an investment with us is not viable at this time. However, it may be possible in the future as we grow. It is interesting to know how charter school laws and support vary from state to state. Hawaii still has a long way to go towards understanding and offering support for our charter schools, rather than the current political views of seeing them as a burden on the state budget or negatively impacting DOE schools.

Do you know of any potential school sites or have specific contact information for land owners who may be willing to lease their land temporarily or indefinitely? Do you have connections to Bette Midler or her associates regarding her Kapa`a properties?

Wherever we are welcome to land, our immediate next step will be the County permitting process. We would appreciate the aide of a land use attorney or planning consultant through this process to help it flow as smoothly and quickly as possible. Do you know of either whom you can recommend to us? Please send us their names!!

Volunteers Needed

A school cannot exist without the children and families it serves. As a governing board of just 7 volunteers, we cannot do it all. We need your help. If you feel our school is worth fighting for and could be your child’s school; if you want leading edge alternative education for our community; and if you see the benefit of giving back to our island home; then we have a place and a community for you to join. This must be a community effort!

Not only are we looking for governing board members, board committee members, and event or project help, but we are also needing to form a separate Non-Profit organization. Please consider how you can be of service and spread the word to others you know.

Please add your name to our volunteer list and if you do not have time to volunteer but would like to make a donation, you can do so on our website via Paypal.

Thanks to Brittany Steinbeck for her incredible help in cleaning and organizing our storage shed!

Board Business

Some of our Governing Board members attended a board training workshop hosted by the Charter School Network of Hawaii, a non-profit organization working on behalf of the state’s charter schools. The workshop was helpful and informative as we learned more about best practices. Thanks also to Kawaikini Charter School for the use of their classroom for the workshop.

Board Chair DrB and Ann Keeler, an educator on our advisory board, attended the Charter Commission’s Educational Summit in Oahu on June 27th. It was a very informative and worthwhile event.

At that time, DrB also attended the recent State Charter Commission Board meeting where they voted on us to proceed with the new assurances for 2018.


Another BIG “Thank you!” to Kapa’a Print, Ship, and Storage for donating a storage unit to us! If you have any useful school materials, we are happy to accept your donations!

Mahalo, Kaua’i United Church of Christ, whose retired school had supplies to pass on to us.

Social Media

Do you follow our Facebook Page? If not, please LIKE our Facebook Page for more updates and links to learn more about our model of alternative education.

Also, make sure to click on the FOLLOWING button on the Page and adjust your settings there to be sure you get all of our updates.

Project Based Learning at Home

This month inspire your child by asking them to take over as chef for a dinner! While your child takes the lead by creating a meal plan, finding recipes, and writing the grocery list on their own, you can teach them about healthy and balanced eating. Then do the shopping together and, depending on age, one of you be the sous-chef and create the meal together! Post your pictures and tag us on facebook! More PBL ideas can be found here.

May 2017 Newsletter

Aloha, Friends of Alaka’i O Kaua’i,

Thank you to those who attended our Town Hall meeting last Monday, May 8, 2017. We presented an informative summary of our last year and our main needs moving forward this year to open in 2018.

The Garden Island newspaper reported on it here.

alakai o kauai public charter school

We stressed the importance of needing more hands helping, as we build up committees to focus on the main issues. The two needing priority are facility acquisition and fundraising. We know there is a great desire for our school to open, for at least 110 students applied in just two short months. Won’t you help make this school a reality for them?

Any skills, experience, and knowledge you have are all greatly valued. Some of the committees and/or skills we are looking to build include:

  • Fundraising: create plans and timeline, help solicit funds, organize events
  • Grant Writing: write, edit, research grants, develop timelines
  • Non-profit Development: a separate organization needing leadership, main objective is fundraising
  • Facilities: research, work with county leaders and planning departments, write proposals and presentations, construction, maintenance
  • PR/Communications: create flyers, write blogs, update website, social media, write announcements, newsletters
  • Events: develop, organize, set up, clean up

Please sign up as a volunteer.

Right now we are actively searching for and pursuing possible school sites. We are also scheduling personal meetings with leaders on both the state and county levels. Let us know if you have any leads on facilities or land we can use!

Save the Date!!
On Saturday, June 17th, we will host a Family Fun Day and Potluck at Kapaa Beach Park from 10am to 6pm. Details to follow!

Thank you! We look forward to seeing the growth of our community, and we hope to keep everyone updated as we proceed through another start-up year. Please be sure to look for our newsletter every month, “Like” our facebook page, and join in this noble community service!

Why do we continue our work to bring project based learning to Kaua’i? Because it is a proven education model that deepens authentic student engagement which results in deeper learning. The emphasis is on the inquiry, the process, the problem solving, the collaboration, the reflection, and the presentation of learning.
“The only source of knowledge is experience” – Albert Einstein

Practice at Home: This summer you can help your child become a deeper learner by encouraging questions; don’t supply an answer but rather provide another question that will help your child maintain interest in the topic for further learning. Ask questions such as, “How could we find the answer to that? What tools or resources do we have that might help us find out?” Often providing an answer to a child’s question kills the interest while asking a further question will inspire deeper learning. Look for more helpful hints in further newsletters!

How Do You Create Higher Performing, Happier Classrooms?

By Heather Staker

“This playbook shares the findings of three researchers who set off to discover what K–12 schools can learn from the best-run organizations in America. Why are companies such as Zappos, Geico, and Google continually ranked among the best places to work if you want to be happy and successful? Could classroom teachers use similar strategies to improve their students’ happiness and performance, not to mention their graduates’ readiness to work in America’s top organizations someday? – See more at:”

Read the full White Paper by Heather Staker at the Christensen Institute here:



Holiday Dinner and Dance Party at Trees Lounge – Sunday. December 11th

Join us for a Holiday Dinner and Dance Party to raise funds for Alaka’i O Kaua’i Public Charter school. Our school needs to raise a minimum of $200,000 to get us going before Federal funds kick in in August 2017. Our Eastside school will be a highly innovative free public charter school, focusing on project based learning, social and emotional learning, and individual learning plans for each student.

Sunday December, 11th at 5:30 join us for silent auction, Kauai Photo Booth + Hashtag Printing by Swell Photography, amazing Noisy Food pupus and dinner by Chef Benjamin featuring fresh local ingredients, 7:00 belly dancing show by the international award winning duo Al Farashat, and ending the night with a holiday dance party by DJ Angel Spinning your favorite world grooves. Tickets are $50 pre sale, $60 at the door. Tickets may be purchased below online or in person at Aloha from Kauai or Trees Lounge in Kapa’a.

Please join us for a fun night fundraising for local education. Our Keiki need your help, so come out and eat, drink, dance, and make merry in support of our islands future.


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