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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 23, 2006

Maui school pursues Christian values

By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Neighbor Island Editor

Principal Carolyn Moore, left, and librarian Melissa Steed with some the pupils of Doris Todd Memorial Christian School: They'll celebrate the school's 50th anniversary with events scheduled for July 14-16.

CHRISTIE WILSON | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Where: 519 Baldwin Ave., Pa'ia

Phone: (808) 579-9237

Principal: Carolyn Moore, administrator, 1971-2002 and 2005-2006

School mascot: Eagle

School colors: Blue and white

Web address: dtschool.org

History: The school was started in 1956, with four students, by Doris Crozier Todd in her home as an outreach of East Maui Baptist Churches. In 1961 the school moved to its present 4.3-acre location and was named Pa'ia Baptist Nursery and Kindergarten. It was renamed for its founder after Todd died in 1965. A few years later, her husband, Edward Todd, married teacher Mabel Sharples, who would serve as principal for more than 15 years. Edward Todd died in 2001, but his wife continues to serve the school.

Enrollment: 143 students in preschool through eighth grade; increasing to 160 for the 2006-07 school year, with campus expansion

Computers: 20 computers in computer lab and classrooms

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PA'IA, Maui Doris Todd Memorial Christian School is Christian not just in name. Bible memorization and Christian values are a central focus at the Pa'ia school, which is celebrating its 50th year.

The ideals of hard work, doing your best and showing consideration and kindness toward others are instilled in students in everything from math and English classes to physical education and recess, said principal Carolyn Moore. And learning the Bible by heart provides students with a ready resource for later in life when faced with adversity and other challenges, she said.

Like many other independent schools, Doris Todd is experiencing a resurgence, particularly in the middle school grades. Moore said parents used to be more concerned about giving their children a good start at an early age, but emphasis has shifted to finding a safe learning place for the transitional pre-teen years, and some parents are shying away from public schools with large enrollments.

"There are more benefits to K-8 schools. There's more of a family atmosphere and you have the older children looking out for the younger ones," Moore said. Plus, at a smaller school, "teachers are focused on the same thing and have the same goals."

School secretary Leslie Bettendorf of Kihei, a former public school substitute teacher, moved her two daughters from a public school to Doris Todd.

"As the kids got older, I saw the lack of control in the classrooms and other behavior issues," she said.

Bettendorf said she prefers Doris Todd's Christian environment, which begets few disciplinary problems so that teachers spend more time teaching.

To relieve crowding, Doris Todd opened new classrooms in 2001 and is building seven more at a cost of $1.3 million. The work is expected to be done by June. A library and media center will come later.

The school will celebrate its 50th anniversary with events July 14-16.

  • What are you most proud of? Strong academics students rank well above national norms on the Stanford Achievement Test and a loving, Christian, family-type environment on a campus that is free from swearing, alcohol, drugs and fighting.

  • Best-kept secret: An English program that produces students who are well-prepared for high school.

  • Everybody at our school knows: Mabel Todd, who was principal from 1965 to 1981. At age 71, "she is still very active at school as a board member, a volunteer and grandmother to all," Moore said.

  • Our biggest challenge: The need for space, which will be alleviated with construction of new classrooms.

  • What we need: Computers for students and furniture for new classrooms.

  • Special programs/events: Weekly chapel; art, book and science fairs; Christmas and spring programs; Founder's Day; Middle School Retreat; missions and spiritual emphasis weeks; intramural and interscholastic sports; National Junior Honor Society.

    Reach Christie Wilson at cwilson@honoluluadvertiser.com.