Kukahiko headshot
Eomailani Kukahiko

The College of Education Department of Curriculum Studies (EDCS) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa has selected Associate Specialist Eōmailani K. Kukahiko as the 2018–19 Hubert V. Everly Endowed Scholar in Education. As part of the endowment, Kukahiko will receive $10,000 over two semesters to support the development of her program, Kauhale Kumu (teacher community), which focuses on the holistic retention of teachers in the Hawaiʻi Department of Education Hawaiian Language Immersion Program.

“I’m stoked to be the recipient of this award, which gives our Kumu Kaiapuni (Hawaiian language immersion teachers) an opportunity to voice their manaʻo (thoughts) about how we can better support their teaching long-term,” Kukahiko said. “Access to quality public education that is properly resourced and taught through the Hawaiian language should be at the forefront of Hawaiʻi’s educational priorities. This research will give me a chance to learn about how we can keep these amazing kumu in schools.”

Reconceptualizing the kauhale

As indicated by its title, Kauhale Kumu uses the kauhale (community) as a traditional metaphor, centered on meeting the daily needs and functions of Hawaiian immersion teachers. By reconceptualizing the kauhale, the program seeks to recreate a Hawaiian language immersion teacher educational kauhale in order to support this dedicated group.

“We are so proud of Dr. Eōmailani Kukahiko for receiving this award,” said EDCS Director Patricia Halagao. “Her proposal of Kauhale Kumu is timely and truly embraces the mission of our department. It is visionary and meaningfully advocates for a population of teachers who are traditionally marginalized and underserved.”

Eight currently licensed teachers working in Kaiapuni classrooms in Oʻahu will participate in professional development opportunities, designed to support their well-being and specific classroom needs. Important products of this research will include a better understanding of their long-term commitment to the teaching profession as well as their advice to aspiring and new teachers of Hawaiian immersion.

“This research builds upon a rich legacy of Hawaiian immersion educators that have been relentless in the pursuit of language revitalization for over 30 years,” Kukahiko concluded. “As a student, I have experienced the absolute joy of learning my language and believe that our keiki benefit from our ability to retain these quality teachers. E ola ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (the Hawaiian language shall live).”

Read more on the College of Education website.

—By Jennifer Parks