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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 20, 2006

'Nice partnership' at Waimanalo school

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

The philosophy at Waimanalo Intermediate and Elementary is that education provides the freedom for its 540 students to shape their future. In this class, children make geometric shapes out of paper. From left, Kealohi Matutino, 11; Megan Tataipu, 10; and Elle Fox, 10.

RICHARD AMBO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Where: 41-1330 Kalaniana'ole Highway, Waimanalo

Phone: 259-0460

Principal: Susan Hummel, three years

School mascot: Honu

School colors: Emerald green/ white

History: The school opened in 1925 and was named Kailua School with students in kindergarten through Grade 9. In 1975, the ninth-graders moved to Kailua High School; Waimanalo became one of a few schools for students from kindergarten through Grade 8. A new campus was built in 1950 and a major renovation took place in 2002. The campus has a special-education preschool and a Head Start preschool.

Testing: Here's how Waimanalo Elementary and Intermediate School students fared on the most recent standardized tests.

  • Stanford Achievement Test: Listed is the combined percentage of students scoring average and above average, compared with the national combined average of 77 percent. Third-grade reading, 69 percent; math, 92 percent. Fifth-grade reading, 60 percent; math, 78 percent. Eighth-grade reading, 76 percent; math, 74 percent.

  • Hawai'i State Assessment: Listed is the combined percentage of students meeting or exceeding state standards, and a comparison with the state average. Third-grade reading, 24 percent, compared with state average of 51.8 percent; math, 29 percent, compared with 28.5 percent. Fifth-grade reading, 24 percent, compared with 55.6 percent; math, 8 percent, compared with 25.5 percent. Eighth-grade reading, 34 percent, compared with 38.2 percent; math, 13 percent, compared with 20.5 percent.

    Computers: 134

    Enrollment: 540

    Low-income: 78.2 percent

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    WAIMANALO Waimanalo Elementary and Intermediate School students are involved with their education.

    They plan special events and contribute to their learning environment, said principal Susan Hummel.

    Hummel said she feels "like we have a nice partnership" with the students, "who really care about their learning environment."

    Waimanalo school is in a mixed rural/urban community where about 65 percent of the residents are Hawaiian or part-Hawaiian. Farms, nurseries and horse ranches contribute to the economic viability of a community that also caters to tourists.

    The school is making progress toward achieving academic standards, but Hummel said it's not enough to teach students reading and math.

    "We also have to balance the need for students to explore their talents and interests as a part of their growth," Hummel said. "Our philosophy is education provides the freedom for Waimanalo students to shape their future."

    A new reading program has more and more students able to read at or above grade level. The program was implemented this school year in kindergarten through eighth grade, and Hummel said the quarterly gains have been noteworthy.

    To balance the emphasis on academics, the school also offers video classes that allow students to develop their creative abilities and produce meaningful documents. Among them is one on homelessness that was submitted in a statewide contest and has made it to the finals, she said. Some students who struggle in academics find they can excel in this venue, Hummel said.

    To stress the importance of a good education, the students are involved with several mentoring programs including the Foundation for Excellent Schools' The Century Program that promotes college education and provides career awareness for students, she said.

    The school has a variety of partners that come on campus to help with activities and studies including Ku I Kamana and Hui Malama O Ke Kai, The Friends of Waimanalo, Bellows Air Force Station, the Joint Venture Forum, Hawaii 3Rs, the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, Hawai'i Job Corps and Kamehameha Schools.

  • What are you most proud of? The caring community of students and staff.

  • Best-kept secret: The school's seventh- and eighth-graders have a small agriculture program that is used to teach math and science. Students grow soybeans, corn and nalo greens, which they sell or take home.

  • Everybody at our school knows: Robby Shimokawa, the cafeteria manager. Shimokawa has a positive relationship with students and considers their suggestions about the kinds of food to prepare. He's especially close to students who serve as cafeteria monitors and is always willing to listen to their problems.

  • Our biggest challenge: Achieving standards in reading, math and other essential subjects while balancing the need for students to explore their talents and interests, Hummel said.

  • What we need: Volunteer tutors to assist in reading and math before and after school.

  • Projects: Monthly literacy program to teach parents how to help their children, The Century Program.

  • Special events: Ho'ike, a chance to share students' accomplishments with the community, on May 26. A dinner on May 1 with parents of children in kindergarten through Grade 3.

    Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com.