Kumu’s goes back to school

LIHUE — Luke Mathison, a fifth-grade teacher at St. Catherine School, was among the first of a crowd of teachers stocking up on supplies at Kumu’s Cupboard.

“We are offering first-time teachers extra visits,” said Sharon Lasker, co-founder of Kumu’s Cupboard, a resource center for Kauai educators. “They could come in July and August to get ready for school.”

Tuesday was the first day the resource center at Kukui Grove Center was open following the return of most public-school students to classrooms on Monday.

“St. Catherine doesn’t start until August 27,” Mathison said. “But I’m getting ready now.”

Mathison said this is his first year teaching after getting his degree and certification in April in Oregon.

“This facility has helped me tremendously in preparing for school,” Mathison said. “The school had some supplies, but this place is way nice with items good for incentive prizes and other supplies the school didn’t have.”

Lasker said Kumu’s Cupboard was born out of appreciation for all the teachers on Kauai.

“Both Elyse Litvack and I were former teachers and know firsthand how much the average teacher spends out of pocket every year in order to provide the supplies needed for their classroom,” Lasker said. “We are proud to be a resource for the educators of Kauai — first and foremost with needed supplies available for them when they need them, and at no charge.”

Since opening in the 2016-17 school year, Kumu’s Cupboard has developed into not only a resource center, but a gathering place.

“Kumu’s Cupboard has serviced more than 200 teachers, counselors, and educational assistants from grades kindergarten through grade 12 since February,” Litvack said.

Evan Price, whose daughter Carolyn graduated from Island School in June, wondered what the activity taking place near Macy’s was about.

Kumu’s Cupboard stocks school supplies, teacher supplies, incentives, books, as well as materials for art, science and math. These materials are available, free, for educators in public, private, or charter schools teaching in grades kindergarten through 12. Kumu’s Cupboard and its governing board are volunteers.

“We have received monetary donations from the community as well as some local businesses and community organizations,” Litvack said. “We also received some new supplies from a few stores. Community members have been coming by with gently-used supplies and books. Teachers have told us the supplies are very helpful, and knowing the community supports them and their students is a wonderful feeling.”

These testimonials are inked and posted on a wall for all to see at the site opposite the Bread and Deli Connection. Many of the volunteers are retired educators.

“The community of Kauai has embraced Kumu’s Cupboard with open arms,” Lasker said.

Kumu’s Cupboard will next be open to educators Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“This is a good place,” Price said.

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