Our Islands, Our Future

With education identified by the Focus Maui Nui process as a community priority, the Maui Economic Development Board’s recent Education and Graduation Rate conference proved to be both timely and enlightening.

The event, with the theme “E Ulu – Growing Together”, was held in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization based in Washington D.C. dedicated to enhancing high school success. The focus of the conference was to strengthen the Maui Nui’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education “pipeline” as a means of improving high school success and increasing graduation rates.

Following an inspirational keynote speech made by Congresswoman Maizie Hirono, a variety of perspectives were shared on challenges, opportunities and a vision for education in Hawaii. Presenters from a wide variety of sectors included a parent, an industry/business professional from a local tech company, a high school principal, elected officials, and a panel of 5 high school students.

These sessions set the direction and tone for the rest of the day. Discussion followed on the most important determining factors for educational excellence: student proficiency, teacher proficiency, school proficiency, and school management. Conference participants then formed smaller groups that focused on each of the four proficiencies in depth.

In addition to exploring means of improving STEM education locally, one of the outcomes of the summit was the creation of an Education Working Group that will continue the work begun at the summit in modeling our education system to better equip our students for STEM careers.