The Leeward Community College education program has a new home. The $20 million, three-story, 24,000 square foot Ka ʻImi ʻIke Education Building. Ka ʻImi ʻIke is Hawaiian for the search for knowledge.

“Our programs, the education programs, have blossomed to the point where we are very thankful for the state to have the support to build a new building,” said Bobbie Martel, Leeward CC education program coordinator. “We will fill it with great energy and mana.”

Ka ʻImi ʻIke includes eight classrooms, a large lecture hall, a student resource center, academic support facilities, a community events space, an innovative collaborative workspace for students and faculty and staff offices.

“I think it is amazing to have a specific building dedicated to education,” said Leeward CC student Shelby Amancio. “Everything is new, everything is bright, I think it is going to be an amazing place to learn.”

“Before the classes were kind of scattered around the campus,” said fellow student Rachael Ruiz. “Now we’re definitely going to be a lot closer and definitely a lot more connected to the instructors.”

rooftop lounge with small groups of people

The breezy and shaded rooftop area serves as an open-air gathering space.

It is also the first new building at Leeward since 1979 and received strong support from state lawmakers.

“I was a student here so I have an affection for this campus and my belief is that for the past 40 years, the growth has been on this side, the leeward and central side of Oʻahu,” said state Senator Michelle Kidani after the dedication ceremony. “We have not really built enough facilities to accommodate that growth so this was a perfect chance to do that.”

The Leeward education program has grown from 24 students in 2006 when it was founded to more than 400 students in 2013. Its mission is to produce student centered, culturally sensitive and community focused educators and offers an associate in arts in teaching degree.

“The associate in arts and teaching program is probably one of the fastest growing programs we ever had,” said Chancellor Manuel Cabral. “And the basic idea was that we needed teachers from the community and for the community so that was really the beginning of the dream, to have those options available to the students.”

Students can easily transfer to a four-year education program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, UH West Oʻahu or Chaminade University after earning their degrees or go directly into the workforce as education assistants or part-time teachers. The program has also expanded to offer an alternative teacher certification for career and technical education teachers.

“The only one in the nation at a community college level, for folks who already have degrees but have industry experience and they want to give back by teaching at the middle or high school level,” explained Martel.

Ka ʻImi ʻIke was designed and built to meet LEED Silver certifications with features like photovoltaic panels, rainwater collection for irrigation, water bottle refilling stations, natural lighting and a hybrid air conditioning system that incorporates natural ventilation. Ka ʻImi ʻIke is another example of UH’s commitment to sustainability.

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