To our teachers, we say ‘mahalo’

Today, another school year wraps up for our public schools. That’s almost 10,000 students set free for the summer.

To the people responsible for teaching each and every one of those students, we say “thank you.”

Teaching, as we all know, is a tough, demanding profession. Every year, it seems teachers face more challenges, more rules, more requirements. Yet they do their jobs well. The scholarships earned by graduating seniors to attend college or trade schools is a testament to the students, yes, and also their teachers.

Kauai can take pride in the educators in our schools. From kindergarten to seniors in high school, our teachers would match up with anyone. The youth on this island face their own set of challenges, and while their ohana is there for them, so are their teachers, who often take their duties well beyond the classroom walls. Some even spend their own money for supplies to be sure their students have what is needed.

And they do all this not for great riches, as we also know the salaries of teachers won’t make them wealthy. They do it because they love it, and because they want the best for their students. They do it because they are proud and committed.

Yet, it’s estimated that 10% of the state’s teachers will change schools, move or leave the profession entirely every year. Part of the problem in Hawaii is the cost of living.

A 2018 report by USA Today put the median salary for Hawaii school teachers at $59,524. Try buying a house on Kauai — where single-family homes routinely go on the market in the $600,000 range — on that salary.

That’s where “Landed” comes in.

This organization has been helping educators in communities around the country by matching up to half of a down payment on a home, and is now bringing its efforts to Hawaii.

According to Ian Magruder, director of partnerships at Landed, in a meeting on the Big Island and as reported by West Hawaii Today, they’re here to help whether a family’s ready to buy their home or just getting started.

“We plan to be here long-term,” he said.

Landed started a little over three years ago in the San Francisco Bay Area and has since expanded to Seattle, Denver and Southern California. Now in Hawaii, Landed plans to help educators at all of the state’s public schools, including charter schools chartered with the Hawaii Department of Education, as well as Kamehameha Schools.

Educators must have been employed full-time for at least two years to be eligible, and must continue working in education for another two years.

Landed works by providing up to half of a 20% down payment on a home in exchange for part of the rise or fall in the home’s longterm value. If the homeowner sells or refinances the home within 30 years of purchase, they pay Landed back its initial investment plus or minus 25% of the home’s appreciation or depreciation.

“We share in your win, we share in your loss. We’re a co-partner in the long-term value of your home,” Magruder said.

We certainly hope this works and allows many of Kauai’s best teachers to stay here. When teachers are given the resources to shine, it’s their students who benefit the most. And that makes the future brighter for all of us.

Teachers, like anyone, appreciate words of encouragement. As they enjoy their well-deserved summer vacations, we leave them with a few quotes about the impact they have and just how much our students — and all of us — appreciate who they are and what they do:

• “I am a teacher. It’s how I define myself. A good teacher isn’t someone who gives the answers out to their kids but is understanding of needs and challenges and gives tools to help other people succeed. That’s the way I see myself, so whatever it is that I will do eventually after politics, it’ll have to do a lot with teaching.

— Justin Trudeau

• “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”

— Carl Jung

• “If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.”

— A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

• “I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.”

— John Steinbeck

• “I am a teacher born and bred, and I believe in the advocacy of teachers. It’s a calling. We want our students to feel impassioned and empowered.”

— Erin Gruwell

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