Two influential deans shaped teacher education in Hawaiʻi
Hubert V. Everly
His name is synonymous with public education and linked with social reform in Hawaiʻi. At 91, Hubert V. Everly remains as committed to the concept of open enrollment and the advancement of local teachers as he was when he joined their ranks decades ago. In May 2006, the former University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education dean and longtime faculty member was honored for his dedication and accomplishments with the formal renaming of the college’s Wist Annex 2 as Everly Hall.
"Today’s event goes beyond honoring a great and deserving person," retired UH Vice President and former Everly student Doris Ching observed during the ceremony. "This action reassures the people of this state, the Pacific Region and Asia that the University of Hawaiʻi values the important role of education, particularly public education."
Everly Hall itself is a testament to its namesake’s political savvy and ability to achieve goals. Told by the Legislature that there were no funds for new buildings but might be funding for additions, Everly simply relabeled the planned project. Erected in 1966, the "annex" would be a separate building but for one common wall.
"If I learned anything from Dr. Everly, it is that you do whatever it takes to get things done," noted Randy Hitz, the college’s most recent dean. And he did learn from Everly, meeting at least once a semester with the man who, despite his advanced years, retains an alert intellect and keen sense of humor. (Everly jokes that his longevity prevented university officials from naming the building posthumously, in keeping with past practice. "They were probably thinking, ʻWhen is the old geezer going to die?’")
Everly arrived in Hawaiʻi in 1933 at age 18 with the thought of becoming a park ranger, or maybe even a volcanologist. "Hawaiʻi was a wonderful laboratory for someone who loved the outdoors and wanted to do something unique," he told an interviewer for an oral history project on Hawaiʻi’s public schools.
Benjamin Othello Wist
He enrolled in a summer program for elementary school teachers on the Big Island. By the end of the term, the instructor had convinced him to give up a University of Southern California track scholarship and become a teacher. It was a risky decision. The country was in the midst of the Depression, and teaching jobs were scarce. But Benjamin Othello Wist worked hard to recruit male students and improve the racial mix, explains Everly.
The fact that Everly had fallen in love with Wist’s daughter, Zoe, was an added inducement. Wist became both Everly’s father-in-law and, in 1946, his boss. "Wist was a great influence in my life," muses Everly. "He was a mentor, someone who taught me how to work within the educational climate of the times," which Everly considered restrictive and controlled by Hawaiʻi’s Big Five corporations.
Appointed principal of the Territorial Normal and Training School in 1921, Wist focused on professionalism. He believed teachers should come from Hawaiʻi rather than the mainland, and he introduced a college-level curriculum so their education would prepare them to enter the University of Hawaiʻi as juniors.
He added a summer session for secondary school teachers so they could work toward a degree. Initially opposed to merger with the university but frustrated by his failure to gain degree-granting authority, he compromised, provided he could retain some control over the teacher preparation program and quality of students.
By the 1930s the Normal School had acquired farmlands at the corner of Metcalf Street and University Avenue. A large campus was planned, with buildings designed by famed architect C. W. Dickey.
The building and an annex that would carry Wist’s name were completed that summer and the school moved in. A year later the Normal School merged with the university and was renamed Teachers College with Wist as dean. UH’s rigid enrollment limits allowed Wist to maintain high admissions standards.
Wist retired in 1948 and served two years as a regent. He also served on the Hawaiʻi Statehood Commission—possibly influencing establishment of UH as a constitutional entity with legal title to its property—and was on commission business in Washington, D.C., when he died in 1951.
In 1959, Teachers College became the College of Education with Everly as dean. Where Wist’s passion had been student quality, Everly’s was opportunity. "I opposed the quota system that was based on how many teachers the Department of Education was going to hire. I thought that was wrong," he says.
Open enrollment opened the profession to immigrant students seeking to escape plantation and cannery work. For Everly, Teachers College served a unique purpose—to revert the "social structure and the feudalistic economic system we had in the islands." He viewed public schools as venues for social change and equality and encouraged local educators to set lofty goals.
"He created dreams for us," says Ching.
Everly formed close ties with the unions, the Department of Education and the Legislature to pursue his initiatives. "If you wanted something—a new building, a program—you had to go to key members in the financial committees because they held the money," he says.
By the time Everly reached mandatory retirement age in 1979, the college had become a multi-department institution with expanded research, teacher training and service. It increased field-service training, designed and implemented a doctoral program and introduced distance learning (ETV) in classrooms. The fledgling UH Laboratory School grew into an internationally recognized center charged with developing curriculum and teaching methodology.
"I think one of Everly’s greatest achievements was getting the UH High School underway with virtually no help from the university administration," says Robert Potter, emeritus professor of education. Always innovative, he bought surplus military buildings for the high school.
In June 2006, the 1930s-era building that housed elementary classrooms, performing arts and athletic facilities and staff offices was destroyed by arson. "I helped build that school and now the darn building burned down," Everly reflected sadly. Still, determination trumps disappointment: "The people are still there," he says with satisfaction.
Landmarks and Milestones
UH professors who began their careers as Normal School teachers include John Gilmore, UH’s first president.
A large monkeypod tree near Everly Hall is said to have grown from a seed of the Mark Twain Tree in Hilo, brought to campus by William Meinecke, College of Hawaiʻi Class of 1913.
Mānoa landmark Varney Fountain was named for longtime history teacher Ada Susan Varney and funded by the Normal School Class alumni; Founders’ Gate represents the Normal School–university union.
Merger with the Normal School in 1931 more than doubled UH enrollment to more than 1,000. The College of Education now graduates more than 500 students per year.
Teachers College continued to offer a modified program during World War II.
Education faculty taught farmers, technicians and teachers under contracts with Pakistan, Thailand and Laos until the Vietnam War interfered.
Established in 1969, the Curriculum Research and Development Group develops internationally acclaimed projects in math, science, English, Hawaiian and Asia studies, the arts and technology. Staff also research educational issues and teacher development.
College doctoral programs date to the 1970s; 265 students were enrolled last fall.
The Dorothy Kahananui wing of the music complex was dedicated in 1975 to the woman who taught Hawaiian music for more than five decades in the Normal School, Teachers College and music department.
Since 1998, the college has been accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.
In 2001, University Laboratory School became the Education Laboratory: A Hawaiʻi New Century Public Charter School.
The College of Education encompassed 11 permanent structures until fire claimed the University Elementary School in spring 2006, hastening a planned drive to replace the 70–year–old wooden building.