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-6 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-6 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.


Ticket Type