HĀ: Place-based Learning in the Hawaiian Context

In the 2017–18 school year, Kona Pacific began the process of incorporating a new educational framework developed by the Office of Hawaiian Education, established by the Hawaii DOE in 2015.

The Office of Hawaiian Education started with a question: What would an educational system centered on core Hawaiian values look like?

The result of the discussion and research arising out this question was the development of Nā Hopena Aʻo (HĀ), a learning framework rooted in Hawaiiʻs indigenous context. HĀ (pronounced ʻhah”), meaning “breath” or “to breathe” in Hawaiian, supports a holistic learning process in which outcomes are meant to be demonstrated by everyone within the schools – students, teachers, staff and administrators.

Nā Hopena A‘o or HĀ are six outcomes to be strengthened in every student over the course of their K-12 learning journey, supported by faculty and staff who are models of behaviors that illustrate for students what these outcomes might look like in practice.

These outcomes include a strengthened sense of Belonging, Responsibility, Excellence, Aloha, Total Well-Being, and of Hawaiʻi. When taken together, these outcomes become the core BREATH that can be drawn on for strength and stability through out school and beyond.

At Kona Pacific, we are exploring the implementation of the HĀ framework at many levels of school activities and operations: in the daily main lesson, in specialty classes, on the playground, in the garden, and in the office and operations spheres of the school. Professional development days and work with Kumu Keala Ching will strengthen our capacity to understand and implement the program.

Many aspects of HĀ already exist at Kona Pacific, and we seek to continue to build and model a supportive learning environment that nurtures the conditions that will strengthen the six outcomes as a whole. Stay tuned for more information about our HĀ journey!