Education extends beyond the classroom

It is the season for proms and graduations, report cards and celebrating the end of another school year. In the midst of this, I have been reflecting on what education is and what it means to our community.

The measure of education often is how our students perform on standardized tests. But education and learning are so much more. Of course, academic knowledge is important. But it is the ability to apply knowledge and skills to life that is the true measure of a successful education.

Learning is about asking questions to get at deeper understandings. It is working with others to find answers more insightful than you might have discovered alone. It is making sense of the world around you and being able to cope and thrive within it. It is being inspired to use words, actions, music or pictures to describe what you think and feel. It is the joy of discovery in finding solutions to problems.

I feel a sense of community pride when I hear of our students’ accomplishments and awards at local, state and national competitions. These students have challenged themselves to excel. It is likely they have people who are encouraging and celebrating their efforts. These may be teachers, parents, neighbors or peers.

Our schools work hard to provide students with a good education, despite insufficient funding and some facility challenges. Kaua‘i is fortunate to have a number of programs on the island that augment and support a child’s education.

There are after-school programs such as the Boys & Girls Club, and enrichment and skill-building programs such as Leadership Kaua‘i. There are programs that offer support for education such as Adopt-a-School; Aloha ‘Ike, which provides project grants to teachers; or Kaua‘i Planning & Action Alliance’s classroom volunteer program.

Service organizations around the island contribute funding or provide volunteers for school service projects. Community members teach students golf and hula and so much more. All of these enhance the education of our children and youth, helping to develop more well-rounded citizens.

These young people are our future. The success of our island’s economy relies on a skilled and educated workforce. We need to find ways to ensure that opportunities for higher education, well-paid jobs and affordable housing are available to them. Without these, they will seek opportunities elsewhere.

Anyone wondering what young people think about the future is invited to attend the Kaua‘i Planning & Action Alliance annual meeting from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. May 22 at Kaua‘i Community College. After a short business meeting, the program will feature “Voices of the Future: A Dialogue with Kaua‘i Youth.” There will be a panel of high school students sharing their vision of the future and how we as a community can help them achieve their goals.

• Diane Zachary is president and CEO of Kaua‘i Planning & Action Alliance. She can be reached at kpaa@kauainetwork.org


KPAA annual meeting

• Voices of the Future: A Dialogue with Kaua‘i Youth from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. May 22 at the Kaua‘i Community College cafeteria.

• To RSVP, call KPAA at 632-2005.

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