Our Islands, Our Future

Principal Randy Yamanuha retired in June after 30 years of service with the State Department of Education. At age 56, he leaves his post to serve as caregiver for his aging parents, Yoshio and Sadae Yamanuha. “I’ve always told my staff, family comes first and so I need to practice that same philosophy,” he said. “It’s with a heavy heart. I’ve enjoyed working and I love the staff and the school.”

Amongst the things Yamanuha is most proud of in his 10- year term as principal is his school’s care and attention to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or STEM education. He said Maui High has built a rigorous curriculum that includes emphasis on science and math with the intention of preparing students for high-tech, high-paying jobs. “In education, we can’t really keep up with all the technology. We need the community to help us out,” he said. That’s where organizations like Maui Economic Development Board provide technical assistance to teachers yearning to learn more about STEM curriculum, and support for students successfully competing in national competitions for robotics, science and digital media. “It brings relevance to why they’re taking the math, why they’re taking the science. Programs, like the ones MEDB supports, lets them see the connection,” Yamanuha said. He’s especially pleased to see how technology-based projects have taught students life lessons in the importance of team work.

As principal of Maui High, Yamanuha has taken charge of a large campus — 1,850 students in grades 9 to 12 — and a staff of 120. “Our philosophy has been to create opportunity for all students,” he said, explaining why as many as a dozen Advanced Placement courses are offered to all students and do not require a teacher recommendation. “We challenge our students and if they’re willing to do the work, we’re going to hold them to that commitment.”

MEDB is holding its annual Ke Alahele Education Fund event on August 18 in part to continue its support of STEM education at Maui High and other schools across the county. For more information, go to