Our Islands, Our Future

Lahainaluna High School arts and communications teacher Nancy Young used her Ke Alahele Education Fund grant to create a new environment in her classroom. Now, instead of the traditional classroom setting with rows of desks for students, Young’s created more of an inspirational space for creativity and innovation. “The center of the room has a conversation area with upholstered benches, a table for art and design books and a set of drawers for cameras and iPads. I wanted my students to experience a taste of an inviting, stimulating room and to know what a career in the arts can offer. This is not just a classroom anymore. It is an environment and the kids love it and they produce really amazing work.”

Young said her second-year students are doing college-level work. They do commercial graphics projects, including banners for other schools. They’ve won awards for PBS HIKI NO television segments, and last year her students received special recognition on their diplomas plus placed second in the state in graphics. Young and her students have come a long way, with the help of Ke Alahele grants. When she began teaching full-time more than six years ago, she had only six large tables and 25 old 12-inch iBooks in a cart. But, by her third year, she had accumulated approximately 20 21.5-inch iMacs, a number of digital SLR cameras and a Canon 5100 17-inch printer that accepts roll paper or canvas. Still, there’s more to do, Young said. “What is missing is a pipeline to future education,” Young said. “I plan on visiting California design schools in the spring to see what I can do to connect us with advanced programs.” MEDB established the Ke Alahele Education Fund to power up STEM Education in Maui County.