School-in-a-box Unloading Day!

Aloha, Alaka’i O Kaua’i Founding Families!
What a great few days we’ve had!
We received our first allocation of funding from the state on Friday!
Our shipping container full of School-In-A-Box will be ready to unload Tuesday, July 24th. The fun will start at 9am and go until about 1:00pm or whenever we are finished or can’t lift one more box!! We’d love to have you join in the fun! We need strong people with dollies or carts to help unload; a crew to help assemble furniture with electric drills for screwing the legs back on the tables; a crew to help clean the furniture with dust rags, sponges and buckets; and other jobs that will be become apparent once we get started.
Keiki are welcome, but we can’t use the playground equipment yet, so we’ll set up a space for them to play and need some parents to provide supervision. If you are going to bring your little ones, we’d appreciate it if you brought some toys or activities for them. We have them—but they are buried in the back of the container!!
We’ll have a potluck lunch so if you’d like to join in please bring a dish to share. We’ll have plenty of water at the campus.
We are located at Kahili Mountain Park. The road to the school is off Kaumualii Highway in Koloa just west of the Tree Tunnel road. You’ll see the white Alaka’i school banner and the Kahili Mountain Park sign. Take that gravel road and in 1 mile you’ll find us! Plan on parking on the circular driveway in the front of the school.
So we can plan accordingly, we’d sure appreciate your RSVP, letting us know how many folks will be coming and whether you’d like to help unload, unpack, assemble furniture, supervise keiki, etc.
If you can’t come help us, be sure to send your good energy our way!
Denise (Mrs. T)

Final Approval to Open!

Aloha, Alaka’i O Kaua’i Families,
We are so happy and proud to inform you that on Thursday, June 28th, our school officially completed all of our pre-opening assurances and was given the final approval to open this August by the Hawai`i State Charter School Commission! The Commission acted on a unanimous decision of the Commission’s Application Committee to do so.  The Commission action was approved unanimously as well. In making the motion, Commissioner Mitch D’Olier who also acts as Chair of the Applications Committee, expressed his gratitude regarding the hard work done in preparation for this opening year.  Akaka`i O Kaua`i Board Chair, Rick Eckert and Executive Director Denise Trentham fielded additional questions regarding the school facility’s preparedness, satisfying a few remaining concerns of the Applications Committee as well as conveying the school’s appreciation for the Committee’s support.  Also noted was the effort made by Knudsen Trust, owner of the school facility and iLEAD Schools, Akaka`i O Kaua`i’s services provider.
We would like to thank all of you, our founding families and learners, for your faith in us as a start-up school. We can all rest assured that Alaka`i will be ready to serve and provide the best education that research shows works!
We would also like to thank iLEAD Schools Development for their efforts to get the facilities requirements met and their overall well-wishes and support.  Jon Horwitz and the Knudsen Trustees have also gone beyond our expectations to prepare the property for our school. A huge mahalo also to our school director, Denise Trentham, who has proved her worth a million times over! And of course, the stalwart Alaka`i governing board and team members, thank you!!
On the road to opening day, we will plan open house events during the month of July and will notify you again of those dates, as well as the days our office will be open for receiving your enrollment documents (birth certificate, health record, etc).
Share the good news!
Your friends at Alaka’i O Kaua’i

Letter from the Director

Aloha Families and Friends of Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School!

So much is happening quickly now that we are only 3 months from opening! But in just 6 short weeks, we have our final deadline with the Charter Commission. On June 28th, our governing board members and Denise Trentham, our school director, will travel back to Oahu to present evidence of meeting our last pre-assurances. Two things need to happen to be successful: our building needs to be finished, including passing all required inspections; and our school needs to be fully enrolled. (For every learner short of our target of 165, the Charter Commission requires that $7,200 in unrestricted cash be set aside). This is our last hurdle to jump over before we open, but cannot open if we don’t meet these expectations. We have every confidence that the refurbishments will be completed and our classes will be full. Parents, community groups and civic leaders have expressed tremendous support for our project-based learning school. And now things are really shaping up for our school at Kahili Mountain Park!

For starters, the Knudsen Trust, owner of KMP, has been tremendously supportive. We can’t say enough good things about them! They are committed to infrastructure repairs before handing over the property to us. The estimate for the roof repair came in at almost double what had been planned for. They didn’t blink an eye at the cost because they believe in our school, and are moving full steam ahead. The work on the roof started Monday, May 14th.

iLEAD Schools Development has also committed amazing resources to support the school. They are helping with the cost of other repairs and restoration. Tradesmen are coming to the site daily to assess, give estimates, or provide services. We appreciate all the offers from our parents and community members to jump in and help. As soon as the trades are finished, we will have painting, landscaping and cleaning parties! We’ll be sending weekly newsletters to keep you up-to-date on our progress and hope you will be able to join in the fun!

Enrollment is now at 142 learners. We still have a few seats open in all classes, grades k-5, but they are filling up fast. We are sad to report that the Charter School Commission, at their meeting on May 10th, denied our request to open with 6th graders this year. Our goal is to be

fully enrolled with 165 learners and a healthy waitlist by June 27th. If you find yourself on the waitlist, don’t despair! Some folks end up moving over the summer, so there is a very good chance we’ll be accessing the waitlist.

We are planning several school information events throughout May and June with governing board members and our school director. Our first one is at Lydgate Park (large pavilion) in the Kapaa/Wailua area on Wednesday, May 23rd from 4:30-6:00pm. We’ll be at St. Michael’s and All Angels Episcopal Church Hall, 4364 Hardy Street, Lihue, on Friday, May 25th from 4:30-6:00pm. On Tuesday, May 29th, we will be at HA Coffee Bar, 4180 Rice Street, Hihue from 4:30-6:00pm. Come and learn more about our tuition free school and bring some friends who may be interested in enrolling their child(ren)!

Our fundraising team participated in the Kaua’i Charity Walk on Saturday, May 12th. Here’s a big THANK YOU to all of you who supported our walkers by donating! It was so fun, we plan to make it a yearly thing; even our youngest walker, 6 year old Colin, enjoyed and made it the whole 3 miles!

Our next big event will be the GoFundMe drive for school furnishings. The price of a 40 foot shipping container (which would hold everything we need to get our school started, including furniture, technology, curriculum, etc.) runs $7,800. All of our materials need to be purchased and shipped by June 15th to be sure they arrive in time for set up before school starts on August 28. It usually takes 6 weeks, but we want to allow a little extra time just in case. The problem is that we do not receive funding from the Department of Education until July 20th. Charter Schools in Hawaii do not receive start-up funds and are not allowed to go into debt, so we can’t borrow the funds needed for these items. We hope everyone will participate in the GoFundMe drive and share the information widely with friends, family, coworkers, businesses you patronize, etc. An individual may want to purchase a table and chairs for a classroom, a few bookcases to hold materials, bulletin boards, or maybe whiteboards. Families may want to sponsor a classroom, with aunties, uncles and grandparents helping out. You can donate for a specific purpose like purchasing furniture, or just for areas of greatest or immediate needs. Recognition plaques will be prepared and proudly displayed for families who sponsor a classroom, as well as any donation of $1,000 or more. All donations are tax-deductible and for a great cause—the benefit of our keiki!!! The GoFundMe drive kicks off Friday, May 25th.

As opening day approaches, and especially these next few week, let’s all work together to get over the last hurdle and open a wonderful school of choice for our keiki!

Alaka’i O Kaua’i Governing Board:
Rick Eckert, Chairperson
Indy Reeves, Vice-chairperson
Nicola Sherrill, Secretary
DrB Blackwell, Member
Jesse Mahorney, Member
Mark Olson, Member

May 2018 Newsletter

April Showers…?

To everyone that was affected by the devastating rains in April, we send our heartfelt wishes for the strength, determination and unification necessary for responding in times of disaster.  Families lost their homes, cars, and beloved pets. Such trauma can make you feel isolated and helpless, while those unaffected mobilize out of compassion to dig in, literally, with friends and neighbors on the road to recovery.  It appears that our island community is chock full of caring, hard-working citizens. We are so proud to be part of a community that in the hardest of times can join hands to rebuild and give support to what we all cherish.

This is exactly the type of school ohana we aim to build.  It requires dedication, time, and resources from each of us to not only get us started and become operational, but also to maintain our vision and grow towards bigger dreams through the future.

Knowing that Alaka`i will be made up of families who have proven community service, it is inspiring to imagine what we can all do for our children’s school.

Parent and Child Fair

On April 14, Alaka`i had a table set up at the Parent and Child Fair in Kukui Grove Shopping Center.  It was a great turnout with many families attending. There were lots of community organizations set up who serve the family and keiki populations sharing their information and also providing activities to engage the keiki, all while being entertained by incredible  young performers on the main stage. Showing up at events like this helps to raise awareness, boost our enrollment, and answer questions people have who heard about us and want to know more.

Marketing & P.R.

This is a crucial time for raising awareness of Alaka’i O Kaua’i. As you may already know, our school funding is predicated on how many pupils are enrolled. It is our mission to fill all 165 available seats with happy keiki.  Look out for our ad in Kaua`i Family Magazine (p.54), articles in the Garden Island Newspaper, and other local digital sites. If you see them, please share them and tag us on your facebook and social media pages; let the community know you are looking forward to your children attending! If you are a blogger, vlogger, or know others who are, please contact us! We would love to work with you on content about our school.

On The Air

A huge Mahalo to George Hochman of H. Hawaii Media for their generous donation to our school of a complete advertising package with H.Hawaii Media radio stations. You might hear our ad played twice a day on all 5 of their stations:  Jamz 98.1, Island 98.9, Rooster Country 99.9, Oldies 101.3, and Hawaiian 107.9. This example of donorship is a true testament to our Kaua`i Aloha Spirit!

Team Alaka`i: Outreach

DrB will be at Kukui Grove Shopping Center on April 28, 29, 30 Sat-Mon,  12-5pm, to help get the word out about our school. Anyone who would like to meet our Board Chairperson and ask your questions, even submit an application, she will be happy to meet and work with you.  DrB has been a UHM professor since 2003, training future teachers. She loves to talk story and share how Alakai O Kauai Charter School is going to transform education. And your learners will benefit from this new way of teaching, teaching to the whole child with academic rigor, informed social-emotional learning, and an Individualized Learning Plan.  No child will be overlooked or will fall through any cracks. Their individual needs will be met and the potential of each child will blossom.

Our next outreach table will be at the front entrance of Wal-Mart on Saturday May 5th, 12pm to 5pm. We will have flyers for handing out and a donation basket. Inviting everyone to visit our website is an easy way they can get a good introduction to who we are.

Are you a member of an organized group who has regular meetings? If you would like for a school representative to attend your group meeting to share information about our school and the benefit of this school choice on Kaua`i, please email us and we can arrange that!

Team Alaka`i: Transportation

On April 10, the Transportation Team met in Kapa`a to discuss the best options and how they might be able to organize  bussing for students. Focusing primarily on East side families, we hope a bus service will help gain more enrollment from that side. Research is still in progress on the issue; please stay tuned or email us if you would like to join that effort.

Team Alaka`i: Fundraising

Although they are state funded public schools, charter schools are still under-funded and they are not funded equitably. Until legislation is passed to improve this simple fact, all charter schools have a big responsibility to raise money to pay for amenities many people don’t realize.  Whose responsibility is it to ensure we raise enough money to accommodate the ideals we aspire to provide? EVERYONE’S! Especially our parent volunteers who have the tangible motivation to get to work for their kids.

On Thursday, April 26th, the fundraising and community outreach teams met at the Koloa Neighborhood center

There are also great people working on the state level to get new bills passed that will secure more equitable funding for charter schools. You may receive notification of these and requests for more letters of support to our representatives on behalf of charter school funding bills.

Also, to remind everyone, we have created a “Founders Club” for donors who can make tax deductible contributions starting at $1,000. Special recognition and gifts will be offered at various levels of support. Please request our Founders Club invitation letter if you can pass it on to your friends, family, and others who can help.

Our Director, Denise Trentham, DrB, and a grant writer who volunteered, Rozetta Williams,  have submitted a federal grant to assist the school as we open a new charter school. We will know July  2018 if we are one of the fortunate 40 recipients of this grant. The grant is specifically for new or charter schools just opening, so we definitely qualify and will look forward to receiving financial assistance from the Federal government.

Amazon Smile

Who on Kaua`i doesn’t shop on Amazon? Living on a remote island, it can be hard to find exactly what we need sometimes. Well, now you can feel really good about your Amazon purchases when you shop through Amazon Smile. The Amazon Smile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice. Every item available for purchase on is also available on AmazonSmile ( at the same price.  On your first visit to AmazonSmile (, you are prompted to select a charitable organization from their list of eligible organizations. You can change your selection at any time, so if you are already using Amazon Smile for another organization, consider including Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School as your first choice or into an alternating schedule with another organization.

6th Grade Update

The State Charter Commission has been deliberating on whether to approve our request to add 6th grade this year.  We asked for letters of support and had a great response, thank you! These letters were read and noted at the Commission’s Application Committee meeting on Thursday April 26th.  Despite the support, the Application Committee deferred their vote to May 3rd. They may be trying to outlast us, but we will persevere and keep advocating for 6th grade this year (Fall 2018)

Enrollment Update

Every month we submit an enrollment update to the State Commission. Although we have received nearly 140 applications, half of them have not completed enrollment/registration forms.  The state does not recognize our applicants until their registrations are complete and we have been on a mission to get all applicants through to completion. If you have received a notification about this, please respond ASAP to help boost our enrollment numbers.  Little by little, we are approaching our goal of 165 learners. However, our enrollment target is much more than that; we need to also see a strong wait list. We know that a new school like ours may not be for everybody, and there may be scheduling or transportation conflicts that result in student withdrawal. So to be sure there are keiki ready to fill every open seat, a waitlist will be necessary. Please tell all of your friends, post on your facebook page, about Alaka’i O Kaua’i and why you want your kids to attend, or why we are a great addition to Kaua`i!

Before and After School Service

There has been a great deal of questions about whether or not, Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School  will have before and after school care. The answer is “YES!” We have had strong interest in the service and also have had people contacting  us wanting to apply for this position. We will be advertising this position soon and will select the best possible candidate to care for your child or children before and after school.

April 2018 Newsletter

First Meet and Greet A Great Success!!!

Thank you ALL for attending our first Meet & Greet last weekend! We were thrilled to have such a great turn-out.  The Poipu Beach Athletic Club was a gracious host despite the high numbers overflowing their restaurant! Thanks go to John Horwitz for sponsoring the pupus and refreshments! Future events will need a bigger location, for sure.  We are glad you had a chance to meet and hear from our director, Denise Trentham. We recorded her presentation and after it is edited, we will post on our facebook page. (Be sure and follow us there!)

Meet Our Interim Director

Denise Trentham was visiting Kaua’i this month and was able to attend the  training required by the State Charter Commission on Oahu, see our school site and meet with iLEAD reps. Although she will be heading back to the mainland for the next few months, Denise will continue working on our behalf remotely and in person as she meets and plans with iLEAD Schools Development with whom we have contracted for office support, business services and professional development.

A little bit of background:

Denise holds a Master of Arts in Educational Supervision and Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Education. She has taught special education grades K-8, general education and gifted learners in grades 3-6. Seeing a need to support new educators, she created and administered the Beginning Teacher Support Program which included 160 new teachers and 80 experienced mentors. Denise has been a middle school  assistant principal and principal of an elementary school with 1,000 at-risk learners. She has published articles and been a presenter at local, regional and state conferences for teacher support and special education. Following her career in traditional schools, Denise served on the governing board of the 2nd iLEAD school. When iLEAD Schools Development was formed she first became Director of Business Services then Director of Business Development. Her lifelong mission has been to transform the educational experience for K-8 students by preparing them academically and providing an engaging environment in which to learn and grow. Coming to Alaka’i O Kaua’i is an opportunity to use all facets of her experience to get our school off to a great start and establish a firm foundation of excellence.

Enrollment Update

We have received 109 applications to date. All  have been offered enrollment but many have still not completed their enrollment registration. Some grades are close to full, so be sure to complete the registration process as soon as possible. Please log in to check your status and complete your registration. If you need help, please call 635-5110.

Below are listed some upcoming enrollment outreach dates.  Please email us any other events you hear about that we may participate at.



Save the dates for our upcoming events! We now have our calendar of events up on our website, We really need help with the Swap Meet and STEPS at Kukui Grove.  Can you donate an hour or two of your time to make these events a success?  E-mail us with your availability and we’ll get you dialed in.

4/7 Swap Meet: We will have a booth at Grove Farm Swap Meet Saturday April 7th from 8 to 1.  We will get the word out about our school to recruit learners and raise money for our school.

4/10 Transportation Team Meeting: All are welcome to attend the first organizational meeting to begin the research and development of student transportation to be held at Kapaa United Church of Christ, 4-5:30pm.

4/14 STEPS at Kukui Grove: A fun event for young keiki and their parents to learn about local resources for children.  We will have a table set up for enrollment outreach and an activity for keiki. Event is from 9:30am to 1pm. If you can volunteer to help tend the table, please email us.

Board Meetings: Thanks to KIUC, we have a great public location for our board meetings until our school is open.  Every third Wednesday our meeting will be held at KIUC from 5 to 7pm. Our next meeting is on April 18. We hope to see you there!

Getting Organized

We are starting to organize teams with specific interests:  Community Connections (to get the word out about our school), Fundraising (to raise money for start-up expenses and other needs), and Transportation (to find creative ways to get our keiki to and from Kahili Mountain Park). Community Connections team members plan and attend outreach activities such as tabling at swap meets, setting up meet and greets, walking neighborhoods to distribute info, hanging posters in businesses and community centers, etc.  The Fundraising Team plans events such as The Charity Walk, benefit concerts, donation drives, etc. The Transportation Team is exploring options for all learners (particularly those from the East Side) such as carpooling apps, bus donations, grants, partnerships with local transportation agencies and businesses, etc.   By joining together our networks and resources we can make our school an amazing place to learn and grow. It is time to get creative and do what we can for the benefit of our keiki! Don’t rely on other parents!  We need you!

The efforts to get our school started initially fell on our six board members.  Now that we have so many families interested in being part of our school, we can and should all get involved and begin to build our ohana.  Interest forms were distributed at our Meet and Greet. If you were not able to attend, please follow this link:

Fundraising Update

The new Alaka`i Founders Club welcomes donors, businesses, and philanthropists who can support  the opening of our school. For Alakai Founders Club, we want to give special recognition by acknowledging each donor’s name or company name on plaques that will be prominently displayed at our school.  Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated; plaques will vary according to the level of contribution. We will be sending out an email on behalf of the Founder’s Club that we hope you can share widely.

If you signed up to join our fundraising team, be on the lookout for an invitation to an upcoming organizational meeting in mid-April.  We need volunteers to help organize our participation in the Visitor Industry Charity Walk which will be held at Vidinha Stadium on Saturday, May 12. Please email us if you can help!

Social Networking

Are you following us  on Facebook? Please do! We always post our newsletters and announcements there:

We also have an Instagram account you can follow: alakai_o_kauai

Don’t miss a chance to tell  friends, neighbors, family members, businesses you patronize, church members, parents in line at the local market, etc. about our wonderful school!

March 2018 Newsletter

Alaka’i O Kaua’i

March 2018

Congratulations, Applicants!

Congratulations to our early applicants who have officially enrolled as our founding students this August!! We did not have a need for a lottery by our January 12th deadline,  and we are in the next stage of registration through our online system.  Everyone who has applied through February 24th has now received an email with an offer to enroll.  Once you accept the offer, you will have access to the enrollment forms.  Once the enrollment forms are complete, you will receive an email confirmation that your registration is complete.  If you are considering the option to send your child to this new and innovative school, please don’t hesitate to secure a spot now!  We are already halfway to our goal of 165 students!

Continuing Enrollment

With our online enrollment system, anyone can apply easily from home or even on your phone from this link:

There is no deadline or limitation to apply.  As long as there is space left, we will accept your application and send you an invitation to enroll.  Once spaces are full, you will be added to a waitlist and notified.

If you have already applied, you can keep tabs on your application process by logging into your account.

Good news for 6th Grade!

Alaka`i governing board voted to request opening with grades K-7 this August!  This means we can now accept applications for students entering 6th grade in August 2018.  However, we can not make it official and offer them enrollment until the Hawai`i State Charter Commission approves this change which may not be until May.  Please share the news!

Out and About

Our board members and volunteers are busy manning our outreach table at locations around the island.  It is crucial that we spread the word to all our friends and family members with keiki entering grades K-7 next school year.  We are especially looking for opportunities at south side locations.   If you know of any events we can come to meet families, or if you are able to volunteer at one,  let us know!


Official School Calendar Released

To view our 2018/19 school calendar, click HERE

We will be starting about 3 weeks later than DOE schools this year to give us more time to prepare our school buildings as well as provide professional development for our teachers.

Our daily schedule is still pending as we work with the Hawaii State Teacher Association in regard to their requirements.   This is one of our current priorities and we will announce it soon.

Charter Commission Business

Governing Board members have been keeping attendance at the State Charter School Commission monthly meetings on Oahu.  Our presence is critical to represent and defend our school as it continues to be held accountable for meeting the pre-assurances required to attain our official charter status. Until May, we are still in pre-charter status. The good news is that we are meeting all such requirements and are still right on track.

Benefit Concert

You may have seen our invitation to a benefit concert with Willie K that  we were planning.  We are so sorry to say that due to his health priorities, Uncle Willie K had to cancel all of his upcoming shows.   We wish Willie K a full recovery and send him our warmest aloha. We are now working on a new fundraiser on the south side.

National School Choice Week

Across the nation millions of students rallied to voice support for school choice. We’d like to thank the Hawaii Charter School Network for organizing and sponsoring Hawaii’s first rally for school choice.  They sponsored students and representatives from charter schools on all the islands to come to the state capitol.  Students performed, made speeches and walked around to the offices of our representatives.  It is important for our state leaders to realize the deep positive impact our charter schools have on our communities, and follow through with their support of bills that will fund the state charter schools fairly.  Alaka’i O Kaua’i was represented by Sylvan Reeves, who will be a 5th grader next year at Alaka`i, who gave a powerful speech he had written.

Thank you, also, to our state senate president and Kaua`i Senator, Ron Kouchi, for taking time to sit and talk story with us.  His own experience has taught him that a student’s intelligence and ability is not determined by test scores, and that having a school where children can thrive in a more holistic environment like ours is a genuine asset.  We hope to have  more support like he expressed this legislative season!


Governing Board Meetings

Thank you to KIUC who is allowing us use of their conference room for our monthly general board meetings for the next few months. This allows us to invite the public.  If you are interested in attending, you are welcome to. The next meeting will be Wednesday, March 21, from 5 to 7pm.  There is a limit of 30 guests inside the room with us.


One of the most common concerns we are hearing from our community is in regard to transportation.  Hawaii does not provide bussing, funding or subsidies for bussing to its charter schools.  Those charter schools that do provide the service have raised funds for it and often rely on volunteers to help out with driving.  Since this is our first year, we are unable to provide student transportation. We know this is a big need with our location.  Unless someone can donate busses or vans, we ask that all our families consider working together for carpooling.  There are carpooling apps now that might prove really helpful.  As we get closer to August and have our enrollment full, it will be easier to organize within regions.   We are also planning a gathering for our newly enrolled families to meet and organize.  This is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, March 24th. We will send an invitation when the location is secured.

Like Us on Facebook

Do you follow us on facebook? You should! All of our updates are posted there as well as inspiring posts related to alternative education.  Make sure to set the priority to “See First” under the  “Following” tab. See our page HERE

A typical school day at Alaka’i O Kaua’i will be dynamic and fun…

Arrival: Anela arrives at school and is greeted by the school director and support staff. She spends a few minutes talking story with her friends before heading off to her classroom, where her teacher welcomes her and helps her get settled.

Voice and Choice: Anela decides to spend her voice and choice time in the class “Makery,” an area where students can create things out of recycled materials. On this day, she continues work on a go-cart model that she and her friends have designed for the upcoming go-cart festival at school.

Morning Meeting and S.E.L.: The morning meeting takes place in the class “Village,” a comfortable space with tatami mats and floor cushions designed for group dialogue and other brainstorming and reflective activities. After reviewing the day’s schedule, the conversation turns to “Habit #2: Have a Plan.” Students and teacher engage in a discussion about how they might use this habit to guide their work on their go-carts. The student committees also update the class on the arrangements for the go-cart festival, which is a student-initiated fundraiser to help build a new playground on campus.

Daily 5 (Reading, Writing, Word Work):  Anela chooses to begin her Daily Five center time with “Work on Writing.” She is composing a letter to the editor of The Garden Island, Kaua`i’s local newspaper, advertising the upcoming go-cart festival and inviting him to attend. She uses the rubric designed by the class to guide her letter writing to insure that all of the important components are included. After working for 20 minutes, Anela places the draft in her writing folder and moves on to Word Work, where she is in the process of mastering set 7 of the 11 Dolche sight word lists. She selects “word usage” as her task from the day and uses the vocabulary tiles to build sentences using each of the words on the list. She and her work partner take turns forming and reading each other’s sentences. Anela rounds off her Daily Five by listening to chapter 3 of Maniac Magee on tape as she follows along in the book. As she reads and listens, she makes a list of verbs that are used.

Recess: Anela shares her morning snack of baked ulu with her best friend, then spends the rest of recess jumping rope with a group of other students.

Daily 5 (Reading): Anela loves mysteries, and is reading “the Secret Tree” by Natalie Stanford. This is a “just right” book for Anela, so she can sound out or infer the words she does not know using the reading strategies she has learned in guided reading. In Guided Reading, Anela’s group is reading “From Seed to Plant” by Gail Gibbons. This nonfiction informational book explains that most plants start as seeds, and follows the process from seed to plant. The CCSS-ELA focus of the lesson is “interpreting words and phrases and analyzing how specific word choices shape meaning.” Anela’s teacher asks, “What does it mean to sprout? Have you ever heard that word used to describe a person? If so, what did it mean?”

Everyday Math:  The class is continuing their study of measurement. Today Anela and her team are measuring the perimeter of the classroom in feet and inches, and converting the results to meters and centimeters. Over time, Anela’s team is measuring all the spaces in their building so that they can build a to-scale replica of the building and grounds. They want to design a new “natural” playground for the campus and will present their idea and their model at the next POL day.

Movement/ P.E.: The class is taking a virtual trip around the island by walk/running laps around the baseball field and tracking their progress in yards (a great math activity!). Anela is excited because the laps she completes today will mean she has “reached” Princeville, the halfway point of their journey.

Lunch & Recess: Anela eats outside under the kamani trees, then plays with her friends until the jingle bells ring.

Words Their Way (Spelling):  Today’s spelling lesson is a sorting activity related to R-influenced vowel patterns. Anela is asked to sort her word cards under the pattern headers, “ar”, “are,” “air,” and oddball words, based upon the sounds the vowels make in the words. Anela accidentally put “pear” in the “ar” pile even though it doesn’t share the same sound as the other words (part, start, harm, etc) in the group. As she reads through the words in each group, she realizes her mistake and resorts the words so that “pear” is in the correct column. She records her sort in her ELA journal.

Project Based Learning (Social Studies, Science, Health, 5 C’s): The go-cart festival is three weeks away, and Anela’s team is having trouble getting their go-cart to turn smoothly at the far end of the track. They spend today’s PBL time researching wheels and pulleys, and decide to re-design the wheel assembly so that the foot pedals connect closer to the steering column for added control. To do this, they need to measure and cut new spindles to hold the wheels in place and to connect the wheels to the steering wheel. They work diligently for the entire period, but only finish one side of the wheel assembly. They will continue tomorrow. Anela’s job during clean-up is to sweep up the sawdust and make sure no wood splinters are left on the floor.

Closing Circle: Anela takes her place in the closing circle, conducted in the “Village.” Today’s check-out is “one word to describe how your project is going. Anela’s word is “rebuilding.”

School Ends: Anela walks to her brother’s class to meet him, and together they go to wait for mom to pick them up.

December 2017 Newsletter

Patience is a Virtue

You have not heard from us in a while because sometimes big steps take more time to accomplish.  The past couple of months have been a waiting game as representatives and lawyers  from all the players involved have been busy in securing a home for our school and negotiating the many details of a lease.  We now have a lot of good news to share…

We are SO EXCITED to announce that Alaka`i has a home!!

We will be the new tenants at Kahili Mountain Park.  Our lush and unique site will encompass several acres, an orchard with gardening space, a school building, gymnasium, and other multi functional buildings.  Woohoo! The kids will love it!  It is an idyllic setting for a school like ours.

Located mauka of the highway just past Maluhia Road (Tree Tunnel), Kahili Mountain Park is within the Koloa zip code.  While we tried our best for over three years to find an east side property, it was just not possible at this time. However, we will still accept and encourage students from any and all parts of the island to apply.  We would like to form a task force to focus on bussing and/or carpooling to ease the burden of traveling distance.  Please sign up on our volunteer form.

2015 Alaka`i friends scouting Mt Kahili


iLEAD School Development Support Services

The Governing Board of Alaka’i O Kaua’i made the decision to hire iLEAD Schools Development, after whom our school is modeled, to receive support in three areas:

Back Office : bookkeeping, business, computer programs, marketing

  1. Professional Development : year round workshops and training for our teachers, board and staff
  2. Educational Services : curriculum development and implementation of PBL, SEL, STEAM, ELA and Math; program and student assessment support.  

This is great news as they offer a generous array of services and have ten years of success for us to build upon.  We will benefit greatly from their decade of experience and multitude of schools.  As a 501c3 nonprofit, they will also act as our non profit until we can get a Friends of Alaka’i O Kaua’i non profit of our own off the ground.

Walmart Grant

A huge thank you to Walmart for providing us with $32,500 in grant money to be used for tablets and iPads for our learners!! How awesome is that?!   A special thank you to Diane Keeler, manager of our local Walmart store in Lihue, for helping Alakai O Kauai Charter School  receive this grant.  The project “A Sound Investment for the Future” will provide iPads for our  learners and is a true investment  in our youths, our future leaders.

Board members Nicola Sherrill and DrB with our grant check from Walmart

Admissions for SY 2017 – 2018

Our Admissions Policy is up for review and approval by the State Charter Commission on December 14.  On December 15th our admissions policy and learner applications will be made available on our website.  Applications may be submitted through January 12th at 4pm.  Our lottery date is planned for the evening of January 16th (location tbd).  Applicants who are accepted will have two weeks to confirm their spot by submitting a complete enrollment packet.  Then on February 7th, we will begin enrollment on a first-apply, first-served basis according to our available spaces.

We look forward to building our community!

Director (Principal)

In other wonderful news, we are happy to have Denise Trentham join us as our school director for our opening year.  She specializes in start-up schools and taking on the challenge of improving schools who are struggling.  What is even more special, however, is that Denise has been part of our Alaka`i family since its inception and through the years has volunteered her expertise whenever asked.  She has a long and highly respected career in public school administration but was inspired after retirement by the iLEAD philosophy which we will practice at Alaka`i.  We will have a meet and greet in 2018 after her arrival.

Volunteer Opportunities

As always, we are reaching out for volunteers.  Please do what you can to help ensure a successful school for your keiki.  We have an easy form you can fill out on our website.

We will need help recruiting learners (AKA students)!  If you can attend any events or markets or gathering areas where we can set up an information table, please let us know!  We will also have flyers you can pin up or pass out.


If time is not on your side to help, please consider a donation!  Financial support is also needed to help get our school set up.  Or maybe you have skills or services you can donate to help our keiki and their new school?  Please let us know!  Donate on our website or send a check to Alakai O Kauai Charter School, P.O. Box 1585, Kapaa, HI 96746.


Project Based Learning at Home

A component of PBL is problem solving. When your child comes to you with a problem, rather than try to fix it for him or her, start asking questions to help guide towards a solution. There may not always be one right solution, or the first idea may not work.  The point is that you get your child thinking, motivated, experienced (especially in times of failure), and more self-confident.  And parents can practice patience and cheerleading!

One way you can incorporate this at home is to talk about what concerns your child has about the world around him. Maybe you can give examples of what our island community struggles with. What issues does he or she relate to, or which one(s) would he/she be interested in learning more about?  How can your family help towards the goal of easing the problem?  Research community groups who are already established and need volunteers, attend county council or other non profit group meetings, organize your own event with friends and family, etc.

In fact that is how this school got started!!

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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