Our Islands, Our Future

Moloka‘i elementary, middle and high school students are on the cutting-edge of technology, thanks, in part, to teacher Kawika Gonzales and to grants from Maui Economic Development Board’s Ke Alahele Education Fund. For the past two years, Gonzales has been teaching the students computer-aided design in a weekly after-school program. Gonzales told supporters at this year’s annual Ke Alahele dinner: “Through your support this past year, we have upgraded our program of Google Sketchup to Google Sketchup Pro, not only for our island, but for students throughout the entire state.” He added, “Students are designing rooms, houses, objects, towns and even entire cities to scale!”

Gonzales said that this past summer he was able to teach a Google Sketchup class on Maui to middle and high school students from around Maui County. “Even as beginners, they were already making fully furnished homes and designing bridges,” he said. Gonzales said the Google program increases students’ engagement and makes learning exciting. “Learning about geometry, measurement and fractions becomes fun when we are able to work with programs such as those funded by this organization,” he said. “As an educator, it makes my job a lot easier when I have the right tools to expand our students’ learning.”

This year, the Ke Alahele Fund raised a record $338,046 at its annual dinner event held Aug. 18 at the Grand Wailea Resort. Gonzales said he would have not been able to teach technology without MEDB support. “I think my job is to give the students opportunities to use their gifts, their talents … I’m able to do that because of community support.” Having taught for 12 years, Gonzales said he has grown as an educator who started with producing and editing videos to developing the website for Kaunakakai Elementary School. He said he’s proud of how students on Moloka‘i are progressing. “They have a flair for it, a natural ability, a natural talent for technology.” For more information about MEDB and its Ke Alahele Fund, call 875-2300 or visit