Aiwohi is named as principal at Hanalei School

Hanalei School’s new principal Nathan Aiwohi said he is looking forward to continuing the school’s mission: Communicating, collaborating and empowering students and the community for a lifetime of learning.

“A real concern for me about coming to Hanalei was that with all of the vacancies, transitions and movements around the district, it’s hard to say how long you’ll be at a school. While I’m here I will do everything in my power to make this the best educational experience for the children of Hanalei,” Aiwohi said in an interview with The Garden Island. He has already met with what he calls a “really awesome faculty and staff.”

Aiwohi, who is from a family of educators, was born and raised on Kaua‘i and went through the Kapa‘a school system, attending both Kapa‘a Elementary and Kapa‘a High & Intermediate School, graduating in 1984. He and wife Leah and their two children, ages 5 and 8, live in Kapahi. Leah is a computer technology teacher at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School.

He attended Chaminade University and graduated from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa in 1989 with bachelor’s degrees in elementary education and specialized Hawaiian studies.

He earned a master’s degree in administration and curriculum the summer of 1999 through Gonzaga University’s cohort program on Kaua‘i.

Aiwohi began his teaching career in 1990 at Kaua‘i High School, taking over his late uncle Earl Arruda’s position as a Hawaiian studies teacher. He moved to another teaching position at Kapa‘a Elementary School in 1991, where he stayed for a year. He spent five years at King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School under then-principal Maggie Cox, and served as a vice principal at the school in 1995.

He said his major introduction into using computers in the classroom came in 1997, when he transferred to Kapa‘a Middle School as a computer technology teacher for 6th graders as the school opened. At Kapa‘a Middle, he spent 2000 as the vice principal and served several months as a temporary principal. The past two years, Aiwohi was the vice principal at Wilcox Elementary School. He said that Hanalei is the smallest school that he’s been at since starting his career.

An initial goal was to continue running things “status quo” and increase collaboration and communication within the school community, and to direct any changes or improvements in that way, he said.

Hanalei School’s mission is “to empower the school community, to take responsibility for meeting the educational needs of all our students and to foster a desire for lifelong learning.”

“That’s not just a nice, fluffy educational phrase, but I truly believe that if we make any changes, it should be in line with our school community, because that’s who we’re serving…and to accomplish that mission and to work along the lines of our state’s policy and standards,” he added.

Hanalei School employs about 18 certificated teachers and there are about 240 students enrolled.

Taking over Aiwohi’s position at Wilcox Elementary is Sherry Scott, formerly a special education department head at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School. Former Hanalei School principal Barbara Baker is now a school renewal specialist for the central Kaua‘i school complex, or schools leading into Kaua‘i High School. Baker’s will work with principals on special projects, curriculum and workforce issues. Two new vice principals were hired for the upcoming school year at Waimea Canyon: Linda Uyehara and Liela Nitta. A temporary vice principal for Kapa‘a High School, Cynthia Masukawa, was transferred from that school’s library.


First Day of School

Thursday, August 21

Hanalei School

King Kaumuali‘i

Wilcox Elementary

Ni‘ihau School

Friday, August 22

Kalaheo School

Koloa School

Eleele School

Waimea Canyon (K-7)

Kaua‘i High

(9th grade orientation)

Monday, August 25

Chiefess Kamakahelei

(6th grade orientation)

Kaua‘i High

Kekaha School

Waimea Canyon (K-8)

Waimea High School

(9th grade orientation)

Tuesday, August 26

Chiefess Kamakahelei

Waimea High School

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