Builder spreads learning aids

KOLOA — There was no red sleigh. Nor was there the set of eight reindeer, or the white-bearded gentleman dressed in red.

It’s March, and Christmas is long past, but for three teachers at Koloa School, it was like Christmas all over again as Jeff Prostor, president of Brookfield Homes Hawai‘i, and his entourage including Ken Becker, Erin Shaw and Tara Conklin, dropped in at Koloa School, the first of three stops.

The white van they arrived in contained a full load of oversized cardboard cartons bearing purple markers designating the destinations.

“We have projects in Po‘ipu, Pilimai, and Hanalei, Nihi Lani, and this is part of giving back to the community,” Conklin said as she waited on the arrival of the white van bearing the gift-givers.

As part of its Holomua (succeed) Education Program, Brookfield Homes Hawai‘i provides gifts of books and technology equipment to enhance students’ learning experience in the classroom.

Shaw said Brookfield has gifted Kalaheo School, the second stop, in the past, but this is the first time Koloa School has been the recipient of the Holomua Education Program.

Marla Domingo, a fourth-grade teacher at Koloa School, was elated when her lauhala-wrapped carton was unpacked to reveal a set of multiplication keys — enough so each student in the class would have use of one.

“Right now, all they have is one set,” Shaw said. “The multiplication keys use various teaching techniques that turn learning multiplication into a fun activity.”

“We go directly to the teachers,” Prostor said following the first presentation. “The teachers make requests for items they would otherwise pay for out of their own pockets, or goes beyond their state-supplied budget. By going straight to the teachers, we feel we can effect faster gifting of items they need.”

Earlier this year, Brookfield Homes Hawai‘i expanded its Holomua program, tripling the total number of schools it serves to include two additional schools on Kaua‘i and on the Big Island, states a press release from Becker Communications.

In addition to stops at Koloa School, Prostor and his entourage were scheduled for visits to Kalaheo School and Hanalei School with similar presentations.

“We had only one recorder, and it broke,” said Solidad Negrillo, a Koloa School first-grade teacher.

Shaw said Negrillo’s wish was for a replacement tape recorder and headphones so the students could use the equipment to supplement the class reading program by learning inflections and pronunciations of words.

Negrillo was thrilled when the huge lauhala-wrapped box revealed its contents of not one, but three recorders and headphones.

Hartwell Blake, a former county attorney, was at a loss for words when the three cartons his students unwrapped revealed hardcover dictionaries and thesauruses.

Debbie Lindsey, the Koloa School principal, said Blake is only a part-time instructor and has the task of working with third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students who need some help with reading.

“He wanted dictionaries and thesauruses so the students could each have one,” Shaw said. “He said they could get the dictionaries as part of an incentive program, but they would each have one to keep forever.”

A green well-used dictionary occupied one corner of a table at the front of Blake’s class.

“This one is from 1970,” Blake said to Prostor. “These students will have these dictionaries for a long time, and they’ll use them.”

Losing little time, Blake got Prostor involved in the classroom as he asked the students to look up the meaning of “bask,” Prostor helping the students flip through the pages of their new reference book.

“These people are building homes in Po‘ipu,” Blake said to his attentive class. “They will become part of our community and because they want to be part of the community, they are doing this for you.”

Shaw, whose parents are Kaua‘i residents, was overjoyed with the reactions of the students and their teachers.

“It’s amazing what just $7 can do,” she said.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.

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