Kani Blackwell has been in the education field for 41 years and recently had the privilege of being joined by other successful cohorts during a personal beach day at Kalihiwai Beach.
“As I start my 42nd year in education, I feel so blessed to still be preparing future teachers, and to be doing so here on Kaua‘i is truly a privilege,” Blackwell said in an e-mail.
Blackwell is a University of Hawai‘i faculty member and the Kaua‘i coordinator for Elementary Education through a program labelled “Growing Our Own Teachers” on Kaua‘i.
Under this program, teacher candidates receive their Bachelor of Education degree and teaching credentials by going through the Kaua‘i program in groups called cohorts. During this education process, the Kaua‘i teachers are part of a group of 25 students from around the state, Blackwell said.
The beauty of this cohort program is that future teachers need not leave their home or families to earn their degree and credentials.
Joining Blackwell at the beach day were representatives of four programs.
Camas Machado was a 2006-2008 cohort, graduating on May 18, and has signed a contract with the Department of Education to teach at Koloa Elementary School.
During her cohort tenure, Machado was one of the Rotary Club “Growing Our Own” scholarship recipients where she was the beneficiary of a $4,000 scholarship to help get herself and her family through a semester where she was involved in student teaching.
Blackwell said that during the semester, cohorts student teach. They are like regular teachers but receive no compensation and the scholarships help cohorts tremendously during this time.
Kathleen Enright represented the newest teacher candidate, one of six, for the 2008-2010 cohort program. That program started May 23.
Kimberly McKillop is one of the six teacher candidates of the 2007-2009 cohort program who will be doing her student teaching in the spring of 2009 at Kilauea School.
She was joined by Emily Blackburn who will be doing her student teaching at Hanalei Elementary School where she has been a part-time teacher.
Nanea Sproat will be starting her third year of teaching at Hanalei Elementary School and was a member of the 2004-2006 cohort program.
“All of us are Kaua‘i teachers, or future teachers,” Blackwell said.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or email@example.com