Our Islands, Our Future

Pukalani Elementary School, a Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) Women in Technology STEMworks™ AFTERschool participant, celebrated this year’s Leadership Day with a moving and inspirational message. During a morning presentation, educators and students showed visitors what is possible when schools are given the tools needed to create learning environments where positive experiences accumulate and empower students.

“As a ‘Leader in Me’ school, the staff at Pukalani Elementary believes that all students can be leaders,” said Amy Strand, Pukalani School Principal. “Based on Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the ‘Leader in Me’ program gives students opportunities that will help develop leadership skills as well as prepare them to be successful in college, career and life. Leadership Day is student-designed, student-prepared, and student-led. They demonstrated some of the projects and opportunities that are helping them grow and develop into the future leaders of this community.”

Working together in groups, students practice all of the Seven Habits. The habits naturally become the framework for behavior expectation and are practiced intrinsically and successfully, because the motivation is in their interest. As a result, students are not only thinking critically and working collaboratively, they are also producing work that is meaningful to them, ultimately acquiring the lesser known 8th Habit, Finding Their Voice.

Feeling good about themselves and others, students are ready to tackle their school curriculum, including STEMworks™ AFTERschool classes provided by MEDB. Pukalani 4th grader Blake Yatsushiro said, “STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) classes teach me so much. I’ve learned how to work as part of a team in Robotics, Aquaponics, and throughout my school day. I’m learning about ratios, volume, chemistry and currently how to normalize the pH for our aquaponics to make it safe for both fish and plants. I hope we can get another grant from MEDB to continue STEM in our school.”

Yatsushiro’s dad, Ryan concluded, “At Pukalani, they are being taught good morals and ethics, along with an amazing education. This integrated way of learning produces leaders who see that their voice is important in the community and in the world.”

I’ve learned a lot from STEMworks™. Not only the science, but life skills like patience, teamwork, and always to keep trying. I hope other kids will get to have this great leadership and STEM experience.

Blake Yatsushiro, 4th grader, Pukalani Elementary School