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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hamamoto welcomed to Saint Louis

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Education Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Pat Hamamoto begins her first day as principal of Saint Louis School. The former superintendent of schools resigned her job on New Year’s Eve.

RICHARD AMBO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Walter Kirimitsu

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Former Superintendent of Schools Patricia Hamamoto, a Maryknoll School graduate, returned to her Catholic school roots yesterday morning when she started her new job as principal of Saint Louis School.

Hamamoto resigned as chief of Hawai'i's public school system on New Year's Eve, citing personal reasons. Her resignation and retirement came as the public school system was in the throes of unprecedented budget cuts that led to furloughs of school teachers and the shortest instructional calendar in the country.

Saint Louis President Walter Kirimitsu called Hamamoto a "distinguished educator" who will restore the all-boys academy's stature as an academic leader in the community. He noted that Hamamoto is the first woman principal in the school's 183-year history.

Hamamoto said being the female educational leader of an all-male school does not faze her.

"I've always believed that an education, a sound education and sound practices, are gender neutral," she said. "We want to be sure that Saint Louis is an exemplary Marianists school that addresses and maximizes the learning of young men."

Hamamoto served more than three decades in Hawai'i's public school system — the last eight years as superintendent of schools. Hamamoto was principal of McKinley High School, Likelike Elementary School and Pearl City Highlands Elementary from 1987 to 1999. Her teaching career began in 1975.

Hamamoto said she sees being an administrator at Saint Louis as an opportunity to give back to Catholic education.

"I truly believe without questioning — unconditionally — there is a reason I am here," Hamamoto said.

Saint Louis School has been without a permanent principal since the resignation of Jack Rizzo in early November. He resigned, citing unspecified health reasons. Since Rizzo's resignation, Kirimitsu has served as both president and principal.

Kirimitsu said he asked Hamamoto to become the school's new principal after first asking if she'd be interested in serving on the school's board.

"By serendipity and persistence, we were able to find the state's most dedicated, distinguished and proven educational leader," Kirimitsu said. "We are very very honored and very fortunate."

Elise Johnson, whose son is in the seventh grade at Saint Louis, said she is excited that the school was able to attract Hamamoto. She called Hamamoto a "rock-solid" choice.

"We are so blessed and lucky to have someone of her experience at our school," said Johnson, also a member of the school's Parent Teacher Organization.