Lessons of the heart

  • Photos by Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Kilauea School first graders display their copies of “Aloha: What It Means To My ’Ohana And Yours.” Front row from left, Hayden Flores, Ka’onohi Armitage, Dalton Rose, Kyan Young, Emma Hadley and Siani Olanolan. Second row from left, Blue Fleming, Massey Ritchie, Audrey Jones and Ari Dumayas. Third row, Emma Virag, Na’e Vaughan, Isla Amador, Kadence Saenz, Nakoa Kelekoma and Lopaka Chandler. Back row, teacher Heather Cornell, co-author Ann Hettinger, Principal Sherry Gonsalves, co-author Lahela Chandler Correa and Title I coordinator Barbara Baker.

  • Bill Buley/The Garden Island

    Ann Hettinger visits with Kilauea School first-grader Blue Fleming.

  • Bill Buley/The Garden Island Kadence Saenz works on his aloha picture.
  • Audrey Jones reads her definition of aloha.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Lahela Chandler Correa spends time with Kilauea School first-grader Siani Olanolan during a lesson on aloha.

KILAUEA — Kilauea School first-grader Hayden Flores smiled as he pulled out the sheet of paper with the word, “Aloha” at the top.

On that paper were pictures he drew of birds and surfers and fish. Slowly, he read what he wrote: “I live aloha. I donate kalua pig. I love my mom and dad. I help. Aloha is love.”

When he finished, Hayden look up proudly.

His work was just one example of how he and his classmates are learning from the workbook, “Aloha: What It Means to My ’Ohana and Yours.”

It’s the second edition of the publication co-authored by Ann Hettinger and Lahela Chandler Correa. They recently presented 350 purchased copies of the workbook to staff and students at Kilauea School. It will be used in grades K-6, integrated by teachers as part of their lesson plans.

The expanded version includes more pictures, stories and lessons about the Hawaiian culture. There are word puzzles and word challenges.

The history of the Hawaiian flag is in there, as is an explanation of how the Hawaiian Islands were formed by volcanoes. The importance of the outrigger canoe is outlined, and hula and Hawaiian foods are highlighted, too.

“We’re really connecting with the culture,” Hettinger said.

But one subject dominates: Aloha.

Some of the page titles are “Aloha is Akua,” “Aloha is Love,” “Aloha is a greeting,” “Aloha is Hope,” and “Aloha is Kuleana.”

You get the idea.

“I like that it teaches aloha,” said Principal Sherry Gonsalves.

Those lessons extend beyond the classroom. They go out into the community, the islands, the world.

“Students are actually teaching this when they go home and are sharing this with their families,” Gonsalves said.

The first edition of the workbook, which came out last year, has become an important part of the school.

“As we’re teaching throughout the day, this book is not just a lesson at one time,” first-grade teacher Heather Cornell said. “It’s out the entire day, embedded in everything we do so the kids are continually connecting it.”

She spoke of having a new student, showing them where to sit, where the playground and cafeteria were. It’s all part of that openness, sharing and kindness that is aloha, throughout each day.

And students are taking it to heart.

“It’s embracing our entire school community. All of the sudden they’re living it, and then they’re sharing it at home,” Cornell said. “And then they’re teaching it. It’s intrinsic. It’s coming from the inside.”

Hettinger said the workbook came about when she met Chandler Correa five years ago.

“She started sharing aloha with me,” Hettinger said. “I’ve been here for 17 years but I really didn’t understand what this was until I met her.”

Hettinger, who has a background in business, was organizing women’s retreats and Chandler Correa asked if she could share aloha with them.

Absolutely, Hettinger said.

“The way the world is now, I look at everything, we need positive, beautiful values,” she said.

The two decided to team up and share that message of aloha via a workbook. They kept it simple, with fun activities and lessons for students.

She said teachers already have so much to do, they wanted to create a workbook that was easy to integrate into the schools and would help keiki learn love, harmony and respect — a reminder of “how you should treat yourself and others.”

“It’s teamwork. It’s really beautiful,” Hettinger said.

“What’s neat is, Lahela and I come from two very different worlds,” she said. “The thing is for myself, what I really realize, there are no boundaries. The beauty of it is that in this day and age, we don’t need to have all these boundaries.”

First-grader, Kadence Saenz, read what he learned about aloha.

“I help my mom wash dishes. I like to live aloha. I love my dad and mom. Aloha is love.”

Another student, Audrey Jones, wrote about how she picks up trash and also how her family donated fish to her teacher.

A delighted Cornell explained that her husband had knee surgery and her daughter broke her arm about the same time.

Audrey’s family invited her over and gave her ahi. That’s the kind of act that “Aloha: What It Means To My ‘Ohana and Yours” is all about.

“It’s a blessing,” Cornell said.

The second edition has also been bought and distributed at Hanalei School and Holualoa Elementary School on the Big Island. Other school officials are reviewing the book and may add it to their classrooms.

Proceeds from sale of the book help support educational programs for children through Aloha Movement Kauai, a nonprofit.

“I’ve very honored to be a part of this,” said Chandler Correa, born and raised in the Wainiha Valley and one of 16 children in her family. “The kids today really need this. This is a foundation to set the children up in how they act.”

Her parents lived aloha, she said, and taught them about caring for family, being helpful, being honest, working hard and respecting elders.

Aloha, she said, is a way of life taught and passed down by generations. It is consider the gift of the Hawaiian people to the world, she added.

It means when you meet someone, you greet them with kindness and when you offer to do something, you give freely, expecting nothing in return.

Aloha is ingrained in Kauai, Chandler Correa said.

“You can feel this place and what it brings,” she said.

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