LIHU‘E — It’s been a month since Paul Zina started his official duties as the new Kaua‘i Complex Area Superintendent, and he has already given back to the community through various events and faced COVID-19 issues head-on when it came to reopening public schools on Kaua‘i.
Zina has started his community service by packing school supplies at the Back to School Bash held at Kukui Grove Center on July 15 and hosted a webinar for Kaua‘i’s parents on what to expect when school reopens.
“It was very exciting,” said Zina. “I had been working closely with Bill Arakaki (former KCAS) since January and no one could have expected the transition time we had to be as demanding as it was due to the pandemic.”
He continued: “There is nothing quite like starting a new job where you feel such a profound responsibility to support our children and their families.”
Zina holds a Bachelors’s degree in Secondary English Education from the University of Hawai‘i, Manoa, and has a Hawai‘i Department of Education Professional School Administrator Certificate.
Although Zina graduated high school from Oak Park-River Forest High School, in Oak Park, Illinois, he said he is proud to have received a great public school education.
Zina has a vision for Kaua‘i’s public and charter schools and he said it’s a simple idea.
“Improve the quality of the conversation between all stakeholders supporting education on Kaua‘i and in the community aboard,” said Zina. “We are a special place with very unique needs in each area of our island.”
Zina said aloha means being mindful that each breath is an opportunity to share positivity and perpetuate what is best about living in Hawai‘i.
“I am not sure anyone can express aloha in the same way Bill Arakaki has in his esteemed life as an educator and leader in Hawai’i,” said Zina. “I do hope that I can continue his kind and caring manner of leading our Kaua‘i DOE while adding my strengths to the position of Complex Area Superintendent.”
Zina has a passionate and thoughtful approach to living and learning.
“I bring a wide range of life experiences as well as having lived in many areas of Kaua‘i,” said Zina. “This gives me a unique perspective when helping schools develop the best possible path to their success.”
In his spare time, Zina said he loves to surf, write poetry, and converse with just about anyone on just about any topic.
“It is the way I learn from others – (by) listening,” said Zina.
Zina is married to Marites Zina and has two kids, Steven and Haley.
“They are the loves my life and are the reason I do everything I do,” said Zina. “I want the work I do to leave the island better and stronger as a result.”
He continued: “Our children deserve that. I work for my family and Kaua‘i’s children, always.”
Besides his immediate family, Zina said he comes from a big family himself.
“I am one of seven brothers (by blood, foster, and adopted),” said Zina. “God bless my mother and father for managing that.”
Zina has a message for parents and the students of Kaua‘i.
“Believe in yourselves,” said Zina. “Find your voice and share it with others to make our island home worthy of the lives that share it.”
Zina said his next step is to continue reopening plans for the school year 2020-2021 and respond to the changing pandemic environment to the best of his ability.
“A huge part of that planning is continuing to develop our Kaua‘i Distance Learning Project helping families in need connect to the Internet and get access to devices, along with supporting schools with important professional development,” said Zina.
Zina said when his parents asked him why he wanted to become a teacher he shared his favorite quote he wrote with them.
“Learning is using the thread of human relationships to stitch together patches of life experience into a quilt work of the community.”
“This quilt work is our history,” said Zina. “It keeps us warm and safe during times of need and allows us to approach the future surrounded by loved ones.”