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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, January 25, 2010

Education advocate Raywid

by Suzanne Roig
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Mary Anne Raywid Scheele

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An educator and advocate for small schools and personalized education, Mary Anne Raywid Scheele died this month, ending her two-year battle with cancer.

Raywid, known in Hawai'i for her work in reforming education, was 81 when she died Jan. 12.

"I think my mom would like to be remembered as someone who lived her life as being passionate and committed to her work, family, friends and community," said her son, Scott Scheele.

Raywid was well-known in education circles as an advocate for student-centered learning, charter schools and small class sizes.

She also was often critical of Hawai'i's statewide education system, claiming it was too large to improve student achievement.

"She is, with no exception, the most prestigious and prolific scholar of restructuring and reforming of education to reside in Hawai'i in the last 25 years," said Libby Pulelehua Oshiyama, a former education professor at Chaminade University. "Her contribution to stimulating interest in change here was considerable."

Raywid came to Hawai'i in 1986 as a keynote speaker for the League of Women Voters conference on school reform. Three years later she accepted a visiting post at the University of Hawai'i's College of Education and moved here full time in 1996.

She chaired the state League of Women Voters' education committee; served on a citizen's advisory committee to the governor on education reform; worked to restructure schools from the large-school concept into small schools and academies; consulted and published articles on Hawai'i school reform; worked on legislative initiatives; co-wrote a biography of Allan Saunders, an administrator and teacher at UH; received accolades for a lecture outlining a comprehensive solution to fix Hawai'i public schools; and helped with the restructuring of Kapa'a Elementary School on Kaua'i.

While at Hofstra University on Long Island, where she worked for 30 years, Raywid created the Center for the Study of Educational Alternatives.

"She was a nationally renowned expert on the positive impact of small schools on student learning and a strong proponent of charter schools," said Donald Young, director of the UH Curriculum Research and Development Group. "Her research findings have influenced educational policy at the state and national levels. A strong advocate for equity, her research focused on providing equal opportunity to learn challenging subject matters in a supportive learning environment for all students."

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday at the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu, 2500 Pali Highway. The family suggests that donations be made to the American Cancer Society in the name of Mary Anne Raywid Scheele.

In addition to her son, Raywid is survived by daughter-in-law, Margaret; and two grandsons.