The Kona Pacific Team

An outstanding school has at its heart a remarkable team, and Kona Pacific Public Charter School is fortunate to have an extraordinary group of highly-qualified and talented team members offering their gifts to the students and families of the KPPCS ohana. Here are their brief introductions.

Kindergarten

Emily Kilgore is the Lead Teacher in the Likolehua Kindergarten. Emily joined Kona Pacific Public Charter School as a Teaching Assistant shortly after her family moved to the Big Island in the fall of 2015. After 3 years assisting in the kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms, in 2018, the first year of the school’s “Forest Kindergarten” program, she eagerly took on the role she still has. To prepare for this role, she attended a course at Rudolf Steiner College, “Exploring the Outdoor Kindergarten,” and completed coursework toward her Elementary Education teaching credential in 2019. Emily holds a BA in Sociology and History from the University of Nevada, and is a licensed K-6 elementary teacher in the State of Hawai’i. Prior to becoming a mom in 2007, Emily was a program director for a disability services non-profit in Nevada. She enjoyed raising her little ones in the natural beauty of the high desert mountains, facilitating a “forest school” preschool co-op, and was ready to embark on her journey as a teacher when her youngest child began kindergarten at KPPCS. Emily enjoys cooking with her family, hiking, reading, and snorkeling in our island’s gentle turquoise bays. A really great day for Emily would be a trek to Makalawena beach with her family, reading a great book on a hammock, and enjoying the stunning beauty our island offers.

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Chloe Miller is the Lead Teacher in the Pukelehua Kindergarten. Chloe joined Kona Pacific in 2017 as group leader in the Kindercare and Aftercare Program. Chloe became a lead Kindergarten Teacher in 2018, co-creating our hybrid forest kindergarten program with the Early Childhood Team. She also serves on the KPPCS Leadership Council. Chloe has a BA in Psychology from the University at Buffalo, an Early Childhood Waldorf Certification, and is a licensed K-6 elementary teacher in the State of Hawai’i. Chloe grew up in New York State attending Green Meadow Waldorf School from Preschool through the 12th grade. She moved to the Big Island in 2014 to work at a Waldorf-inspired coop preschool. After three wonderful years with the preschool, she joined Kona Pacific. In her free time, Chloe enjoys swimming, camping, and playing mahjong.

Amy Cutler is the Teaching Assistant in the Likolehua Kindergarten. Amy joined KPPCS in 2021. Her biosketch will be coming soon. 

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Ali Caputo is the Teaching Assistant in the Pukelehua Kindergarten. Ali joined Kona Pacific Public Charter School in 2010 as a Kindergarten Assistant Teacher. Ali completed her Waldorf teacher training in Eugene, Oregon in 2001 and spent a year assisting at the Eugene Waldorf School and a year at Cedarwood Waldorf School . Ali created an at-home Waldorf preschool program for three years while raising her own young children. She is passionate about early childhood education and creating an environment to nurture the whole child. Ali has a love for dancing, yoga, hiking, and paddle boarding.

1st Grade

Sean LePouttre is the First Grade class teacher. Sean joined Kona Pacific in 2021 to take on the rising first grade! He has been teaching for 23 years! Sean taught at the Hartsbrook Waldorf School in Massachusetts for 11 years. During those 11 years he taught pre-school, kindergarten, first grade and 6 years as the Games and Movement teacher and athletic director. As the Athletic Director, he developed downhill and cross-country ski programs, rowing, basketball and founded a local independent school sports league. In 2009, Sean and his family moved to China to teach with Quality Schools International. He continued teaching overseas for the last 12 years teaching Elementary grades 1, 2 and 3 in China, Slovakia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Kosovo. Sean holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies English/Psychology (Summa Cum Laude) and holds a Massachusetts and Hawaii state licensure in both PE and Elementary K-6. In addition to teaching, Sean has been a coach for 17 years coaching cross-country skiing, track and field and x-c running. His cross country teams have won 3 individual and 1 team championship, at the Central and Eastern European Schools Association championships. When not in the classroom, he is an avid endurance athlete competing in triathlon. Sean recently was a member of Team USA at the 2019 ITU Age Group World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland. Sean loves teaching elementary and especially reading and writing. His passion is to help students find a love for reading and writing so that they become empowered learners.

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Lisa Jaspersohn is the 1st Grade Educational Assistant. Lisa joined KPPCS in July of 2018 as a Special Education Educational Assistant. Her background includes over twenty years of experience in schools, agencies, and hospitals to support children in reaching their full potential within their social and emotional development. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Human Services from the University of Connecticut and her Master’s in Education in Applied Behavior Analysis from Arizona State University. Lisa is a veteran of the United States Air Force. Her interests are health and wellness and animals.

2nd Grade

Jamie Coulter is the 2nd Grade Class Teacher. Jamie joined Kona Pacific in 2015 as the 1st Grade Class Teacher, and led this class through 5th grade, after which he became the 1st Grade Class Teacher for his current group of students. Jamie has a bachelor’s degree from Johnson State College in Vermont, and a master's degree in Education, and Waldorf certification, from Antioch University New England.  He was a class teacher at the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School in Massachusetts, and worked with the Visiting Students Program at Hawthorne Valley Biodynamic Farm in upstate New York. He moved with his family to the Big Island in 2015 to teach at KPPCS. Outside of school he enjoys martial arts, dance, all kinds of outdoor activities, and parenting his four children.

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Dominique Saks is the 2nd Grade Education Assistant.  She joined Kona Pacific Public Charter School in 2021 as a second grade education assistant.  Dominique graduated from Colorado College in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and was hired as the Art Department teaching assistant upon graduation.  She has additional experience as an environmental educator in Washington state parks, as a science teacher at Eldorado Mountain Yoga Kids camp in Colorado, and as a garden and nutrition teacher in Massachusetts elementary schools.   Dominique grew up in Kona and is so happy to be working in her home-town on the Big Island.  She loves being in nature with kids and facilitating opportunities for children to become stewards of their environment.  In her free time Dominique enjoys surfing, hiking, gardening, and eating home-grown food.

3rd Grade

Paul Montz is the 3rd Grade Class Teacher. Paul joined Kona Pacific in 2021.

My Name is Paul Montz, but you can call me Mr. Montz, or even Mr. Montzter. This will be my first year teaching at Kona Pacific. I have been teaching elementary students for the past 8 years in grades 3-6. I have a Bachelor's degree from the University of Hawaii Manoa, where I studied Anthropology, and a Masters Degree from University of Phoenix in Elementary Education. I am excited to be on the big island and am hoping that all the wonderful students can help me fit in and teach me all about Kona as we go through the year together.

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4th Grade

Genesis Perez is the 4th Grade Class Teacher. Genesis joined the KPPCS team in January of 2020 as our 2nd Grade Class Teacher, and has continued forward with her students into 4th grade. Genesis graduated with a Bachelor’s in Art History from the School of Visual Art and Design at the University of Central Florida, where she also took elective classes in Education. Genesis served as Art Director for the Orlando Girls Rock! Camp, a youth-centered arts and social justice movement that focuses on creative expression through music. Genesis has deepened her love of Waldorf Education by participating in several courses at both Sunbridge Institute in Chestnut Ridge, New York, and at the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training in Marin County, California. Genesis moved to the Big Island in the fall of 2014, where she has since found many opportunities to share art and music with our community. She is an Art Teacher at the Society for Kona’s Education and Art, as well as beloved Aunty to many of our keiki. Genesis is the daughter of Caribbean-immigrant parents and is fluent in Spanish. She enjoys trivia, research, designing events and costumes, and walking her dog. Her true talent in life is seeing children for who they are, and her greatest joy is awakening the sense that they are truly seen by the world.

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Steve Fredlund is the 4th Grade EA. His biosketch will be coming soon. 

Upper Grades

Monica Heiser is the 5th Grade Class Co-Teacher. Monica joined Kona Pacific Public Charter School in June, 2019 as our 3rd Grade Class Teacher, and has continued forward with these students as their current class teacher. She is also our Elementary RTI Coach. Monica has a bilingual multiple subject teaching credential, TESOL/TEFL certification, and BA (magna cum laude) in Liberal Studies from San Diego State University. Monica has nine years of teaching experience in elementary grades. She is a past Hope Street Group Fellow and current Hawaii State Teachers Fellow. Monica is passionate about teaching reading, sparking student curiosity, and cultivating a love for learning in her students. She is a mother, aunty, teacher, farmer, and nature enthusiast.

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Maraya Ben-Joseph is the 5th Grade Class Co-Teacher. Maraya joined the KPPCS community in 2009 as the lead Aftercare Teacher and then as the Handwork Assistant. After 8 years off campus, Maraya has rejoined the KPPCS team. Maraya was raised in New York in a multicultural, multilingual family within The Rudolf Steiner Fellowship Foundation, an intentional community dedicated to the care of elderly. From a young age she worked the farm, the gardens, the orchard, with farm animals, with elders, with children. Maraya attended Green Meadow Waldorf School from kindergarten through twelfth grade, participated in many teen programs at the Vermont Wilderness School and in 2013 Maraya received her BA from Prescott College with a degree in Humanities: Community Capacity Building: Native and Indigenous Practice. Maraya has worked at various summer camps and preschools across the U.S, working with children since 2002. Maraya moved to Hawaii in 2008 and for the past 10 years has been farming and raising a family with her husband. Presently Maraya is an active board member for the Olohana Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to disaster mitigation and climate change adaptation strategies. Maraya is an active student of Hawaiian culture and agriculture, budding agroforester farmer, community capacity builder and organizer, musician, mom, nature conservationist, teacher, crafter and sourdough bread maker.

Amanda Grosso is the 6th Grade Class Teacher. Amanda joined Kona Pacific in 2015 as the First Grade Assistant. In 2016 she became the 1st Grade Class Teacher and began her journey with her current class. Amanda received her undergraduate degree from Emerson College in Communications and Journalism, and has Waldorf certification and a Masters in Elementary Education from Antioch University New England. She earned her Hawaii teaching credential from iTeach Hawaii. Amanda grew up in New Jersey and moved to Boston for college. Shortly after graduating, she moved with her cousins to Kona for a six-month visit and they've never left! Amanda fell in love with the island and the Kona Pacific community and wakes up each day passionate about her work with her students. She loves playing roller derby for the Echo City Knockouts and any opportunity to be on her skates. Amanda is a native Spanish speaker, has a passion for language and travel, and spends her free time reading historical fiction.

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Cara Moreau is the 5th and 6th Grade EA / Title 1 Tutor. Cara joined Kona Pacific Public Charter School in 2018 as an on-site Tutor and Educational Assistant. A student herself, Cara is driven by new findings in counselling and psychology pertaining to education. She began working with young adults and children with intellectual and physical disabilities over 10 years ago. This knowledge and focus on the strengths of the individual student inspires Cara to help learners grow to be their very best. When not at KPPCS Cara enjoys sharing meals with friends and family, beekeeping, and swimming.

Greg Learned is the 7th Grade Class Teacher. Greg has been a member of the Kona Pacific ‘ohana since 2000. As a class teacher he led a class from 3rd through 8th grade as a member of the faculty of the Kona Pacific School, which was the private school predecessor of KPPCS. Greg took one of the initial classes of the new Kona Pacific PCS through 8th grade, and then took on the roles of school Program Leader and Gardening and Woodwork teacher. After a two-year break on the mainland, Greg returned in 2019-20 to be the 8th Grade Class Teacher. He graduated that class in May, 2020, and became the 6th Grade Class Teacher for his current group of students. Greg has a Fine Arts degree from the University of San Diego and Waldorf Teaching Certification from the Waldorf Teacher Development Association in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Greg has a passion for all forms of creative expression, building, and growing things, and believes that camping and time in nature provides some of the greatest learning experiences we can share with our haumana.

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I am Matt Bashaw, the new 8th grade teacher, and I am overjoyed to be  teaching here at Kona Pacific. I have lived on island for about eight years now  and always felt attached to this community. For the past seven years I was  teaching at Kuleana Education and I enjoyed that experience immensely. As a  founding teacher at Kuleana Education I learned what it meant and what it took  to be a devoted and dedicated teacher. I intend to continue that passionate  work here and look forward to a successful and enriching year.  

I am married to the most beautiful, intelligent, and compassionate person  ever, Theresa. She has provided me with endless amounts of laughter,  continuous joy and friendship. We have two children, Oliver who is four years old  and Alma who is sixteen months. Being a parent has allowed me to discover the  meaning of unconditional love and parenthood is simply the best.  

As for myself, I am a tennis and wake board enthusiasts. I enjoy traveling,  swimming, gardening, volleyball, and much more. I believe we get one precious  life and I intend to enjoy all that this world offers. One of the benefits of my  profession is that I feel like I don’t work a day in my life. I love what I do and will  do anything for my students. So, please feel free to come see and talk story with  me anytime. 

Specialty Teachers

Jacqueline Cramer is the Gardening Teacher. Jackie joined the Kona Pacific Public Charter School team in 2018 as the Gardening and Sustainable Agriculture Teacher, and still serves the school in this capacity. She has been teaching, working the land, and active as a community organizer for over 30 years. Growing up at the rural-suburban edge, Jackie spent every spare minute playing on the beaches, in the forests and on farms. After studying labor relations and agricultural economics and receiving a Bachelor of Science degree at Cornell University in New York, she was headed to law school but found herself instead in the Pacific Northwest, serving the land and community. After farming for many years, Jackie moved to the city to share passions for the land and growing food. She started the Beacon Food Forest in Seattle, the largest public food forest in the U.S. She attended and then taught horticulture at Edmonds Community College, taught permaculture throughout the Pacific Northwest region, and designed and installed habitats for public and private spaces. For over ten years she has been in the classroom teaching gardening, nutrition, and emotional literacy. In 2017 she heeded a call to move to Hawaii, and has since then been learning from the aina and the traditions of local culture which sustain it. Working with children in the garden has brought Jackie heights of joy and meaning. Everyone is called by the aina. Jackie is honored to assist our students in hearing it.

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David Duke is the Movement / PE Teacher. David joined Kona Pacific in 2011. David holds a B.A. in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and graduated with a Level 1 certificate in Spacial Dynamics from the Spacial Dynamics Institute in Mechanicville, New York. David moved to the Big Island to be a coffee farmer but fell in love with Kona Pacific and has been here ever since. He has held many roles over the years at KPPCS including A+ Program Coordinator, member of the Leadership Council, editor of the student newsletter, coach of the Middle School Volleyball Team, and Technology Coordinator for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. David is dedicated to maintaining a quality physical education program at Kona Pacific where each student is empowered with the knowledge and skills necessary to make responsible lifestyle choices that directly impact their health and well-being. He enjoys playing guitar, swimming, hiking, and volleyball.

Special Education Teachers

Jackie Sabin is the Kona Pacific Elementary Special Education Teacher and Middle School RTI Coach. Jackie began teaching at Kona Pacific in 2017 as the 5th and 6th Grade SPED Teacher. In the 2019-2020 school year Jackie transitioned to being the 7th Grade Class Teacher and as the English Language Arts Teacher for 7th and 8th grades, and moved forward with her group of students into 8th Grade, graduating this class in May, 2021. Jackie went to St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, New York and graduated magna cum laude in 2010 with a double major in Sociology and History. Jackie finished her Masters in Education in Teaching (MEdT), with honors, from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2018. From this program, she became dual-licensed in both general education and special education. Jackie has served as Secretary for the KPPCS Governing Board since May 2019. Prior to teaching, Jackie was a farmer, yoga teacher, personal chef/caterer, substitute teacher, and stay-at-home mom. Jackie is passionate about social justice, equity in the classroom, surfing, and enjoying the incredible nature of Hawaii.

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Heather Baraka is the Special Education Inclusion Teacher for Grades 5 through 8. She is also our Student Services Coordinator. Her biosketch will be coming soon. 

 Kari LePouttre has been a teacher for the past 11 years. Originally from New England, she has been fortunate enough to have traveled and lived around much of the world.  She received her BA in International Relations from The School for International Training, in Brattleboro VT, and her M.Ed. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Kari holds both a Hawaii Standard State Teaching License as well as a Massachusetts’s State Educators Licensure in Middle and Secondary School History.  Kari enjoys hiking and ocean swimming and is excited to return to the Big Island after a 26-year hiatus.

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Administration & Support Staff

Aloha,

I am so honored to introduce myself as the Executive Director of Kona Pacific Charter School for  the 2021-2022 school year! I fell in love with Kona Pacific when I first visited and feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to join this school. I value the tenets of Waldorf and alternative learning, including teaching to the “whole child” and the focus on project based cross curricular learning with such a beautiful and rich program. I am excited to watch the school continue to blossom first hand during my time as Executive Director. 

 

I have been working as an administrator for an alternative charter school on the mainland for the last 8 years. During my time in administration, my team and I markedly improved test scores and created and maintained a positive culture and climate for our staff and students. We earned a prestigious “A” rating from the Department of Education 8 years in a row. We qualified for results based funding and were highlighted as being in the top 10% of Charter Schools in Arizona. During my time as an administrator my schools enrollment  exploded and we have grown three times including building new buildings and even securing a new campus. 

 

Prior to my time in administration as a school Principal at a Montessori Charter School, I worked as a School Counselor. I developed,  implemented, and supervised an integrated behavioral health innitiative that has developed into an immersive  program across several campuses. It also serves as an internship site for several Masters level students that I supervise. Additionally, I started a teen girls after school program serving at risk populations that focus on community based coping skills and activities to promote healthy minds. I have experience as a programs director overseeing Title I, and IDEA federal programs as well as several others, and I am an experienced grant writer.  I developed and implemented teacher training and mentor programs, acclaimed teacher evaluation systems, and recruitment strategies which vastly improved teacher quality. I am a highly qualified teacher in the state of Arizona as well as a certified School Counselor. I value continued education having earned a Bachelor's degree (from the University of Hawaii at Manoa) and  a Master’s degree and have also completed all of the coursework  for a Doctorate in School Psychology. I am a mother of 4 children and a wife to an elementary school  teacher. In my free time I enjoy hiking, swimming, photography and spending quality time with my family. 

 

I truly believe that every child can be successful and reach their unique potential with the right support. Children can benefit immensely from hands-on learning, socially, and emotionally supportive environments, and meaningful lessons. I maintain that developing a strong community in every classroom is vital to the success of students and community development  is equally important  for the staff school climate as well as the school community.  My focus while serving as your Executive Director will include an emphasis on agriculture, Hawaiian Studies, and Waldorf principles. I look forward to working with staff, families, and communities to bring innovative ways to continue academic, social and emotional success in every student who attends Kona Pacific Charter School. 

 

Sincerely,

Amber Herres,  MA.

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Melissa Miller is our School Receptionist. Melissa joined Kona Pacific as our Nutrition Coordinator. Her biosketch will be coming soon.

Jen Brant is our Student Records Coordinator. Jen joined Kona Pacific Public Charter School in June, 2020. Jennifer has a Bachelor's degree in Classics from Newcomb College, Tulane University in New Orleans, and a Masters degree in Religious Studies specializing in Biblical Archeology from the University of South Florida. Jennifer has over 29 years of Operations/IT experience working for several large international banks such as J.P. Morgan Chase, PricewaterhouseCoopers and HSBC. She is a member of the U.S. Masters Women's Freediving Team and has competed as well as judged at the international level, with her deepest dive so far being over 54 meters / 179 feet (over 17 stories!). Jen is passionate about organization, accuracy and transparency, utilizing her IT and database skills to support the school's needs. 

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Edie Lupien is the Kona Pacific Finance Manager and HR Coordinator.

Julie Horrell is the Kona Pacific Financial Coordinator.

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Shane Mann is our Kona Pacific Campus Steward.