Sheila Lee retires after 21 years at Koloa Early School

Students, parents and alumni of The Koloa Early School are invited to a retirement party for longtime educator and administrator, Sheila Lee.

The celebration will be held from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. Tuesday, in the large pavilion at Po‘ipu Beach Park.

Lee has had a driving passion for over 30 years, stemming from her recognition of the importance of an early childhood education and her desire to provide it to all children, said associate Becky Supon.

For the first 10 years of her career, she was director and teacher of the preschool at Koloa Union Church. But her dream was to open a nondenominational and nonprofit preschool, available to everyone. She opened and taught at the Saint Rafael’s preschool until its closing in 1985. Later that year, with the help of Greg and Lindsey Kamm and Valerie Murray, The Koloa Early School was formed in partnership with the Koloa Hongwanji. It is still in the same location.

Lee’s goals for the school were to have a program that was sustainable, open to children of all economic levels and, most of all, fun, said associate Suzy Olson. Researching everything she could find on early childhood learning, she slowly formed her own unique style to teach children ages 3 to 4. She still strongly feels that an early childhood education is the very best way to maximize the positive development in every child.

Achieving her goal hasn’t been easy. The Koloa Early School sustained considerable damage from Hurricane ‘Iniki in 1992. However, with the help of parents, students and alumni, it was up and running in short order.

Hundreds of children have passed through those doors in the last 21 years and all are better for the experience, Supon said.

Lee is handing the reins of The Koloa Early School over to educators Joyce Sulliban and Jeanne Chang so school can continue to educate preschoolers, as well as their parents, for years to come.

For more information, people planning to attend are asked to RSVP to Suzy Olson at 346-4509.

“Bring your appetite, beach chairs and gear, as well as your memories,” Olson said.

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