PUHI — On Friday, faculty and staff at Kaua‘i Community College were honored for all of their hard work during the pandemic, by special guests throughout their end-of-the-year, virtual celebration.
The event, “Taste of The Orient, Hawaiian Style,” which was jam-packed with ono bentos, inspirational words, certificates of honor and yoga.
Normally, the event would have been held in the cafeteria, but because of the pandemic, it was the first time that KCC had the celebration via Zoom.
Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Frankie Harriss was the first speaker. She read a mayor’s proclamation. Although Mayor Derek Kawakami could not be there, he sent his thoughts in an email.
“Aloha and mahalo to Kaua‘i Community College, Chancellor Joe Daisy, students, faculty and staff, for your unwavering dedication and diligence in overcoming the countless challenges that the pandemic has caused this year,” Kawakami said. “The shifts and adaptations in education, from early childhood to the collegiate level, were among the most difficult feats anyone has had to face in 2020.
“Yet Kaua‘i Community College succeeded in perpetuating its mission to inspire, engage and empower students and educators. Your efforts to award funding and resources to hundreds of students has proven that Kaua‘i Community College and its people are built for resilience, and it shows our community that students really do come first,” Kawakami said.
He continued: “As the end of the year approaches, we reflect on these important strides the university has made. On behalf of the County of Kaua‘i, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude and aloha to you all for not just surviving 2020, but for propelling Kaua‘i Community College into a confident future.”
Chancellor Joe Daisy next announced the winner of this year’s Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Service. “In honor of your outstanding performance, service and leadership, we gladly present Dyanne Soto with this certificate of recognition for your high standards of excellence in the science and math division,” Daisy said.
All seven councilmembers were present, and Councilmember Mason Chock read out loud the council’s certificate of congratulations, signed by all councilmembers. The certificate discussed the importance of educators.
“We are here to celebrate all of you,” Chock said. “We lean on our education leaders, so we need to lift you folks high. This certificate recognizes all of your work and dedication at KCC as one of the 10 campuses in the UH (University of Hawai‘i) system and the only campus on Kaua‘i. It’s a cherished institution for all of our people.”
Councilmember Luke Evslin added, “Not only is the work that you do for your students, but it goes so far beyond that. You really are one of the most important pillars here on Kaua‘i.”
Other councilmembers present included Chair Arryl Kaneshiro, Billy DeCosta, KipuKai Kuali‘i, Bernard Carvalho and Felicia Cowden.
Each councilmember gave a heartfelt speech appreciated by Daisy, faculty and staff members.
“We appreciate your kind words at this time of the year, and with everything we are going through we really needed it,” Daisy said. “We appreciate your support for us. We are very grateful.”
Guest speaker, Dr. Janet Berreman, state Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office officer, spoke on leadership and resilience during COVID.
“When I think about leadership, I think about it in three buckets,” Berreman said. “The first bucket: the big picture, vision, and guidance; the second building relationships; and the third is rolling up your sleeves.”
Berreman talked about how important it is to be transparent as a leader, and how she finds hope through the resiliency of Kaua‘i’s people by what they did for each other after Hurricane ‘Iniki hit Kaua‘i in 1992, and the 2018 floods.
“The main thing that makes me optimistic is our Kaua‘i community,” Berreman said. “There are leaders everywhere in our community, people who will lead us all through that tunnel to better days. It is because everyone in our community is looking out for each other and we understand it’s our community’s responsibility.”
“Your words are inspirational in a time when we all need that kind of inspiration,” Daisy said.
“We are a very tight-knit community, and I think we are looking for the positive impact that the vaccine will have. We remain concerned on keeping everyone safe. We are vigilant in washing our hands and practicing social distancing.
“We appreciate your guidance and support. We are doing our part. We know we can do more and we will,” Daisy said.
Before the virtual meeting began, teachers and staff members picked up bento lunches at KCC’s Performing Arts Center, where Manager Juno Apalla and a group of volunteers helped hand out the food made by chef Steve Nakata of KCC’s culinary-arts program.
Faculty and staff members also made non-perishable donations when picking up their lunch for ‘Ono Mea ‘Ai,’ the school’s food pantry, which is available to students Monday and Thursday from noon to 1 p.m., and is located upstairs from the school cafeteria.
Jay Baker, a staff member at the Learning Resource Center and moderator of the event, first separated everyone into breakout sessions where teachers and staff could share what they do to alleviate stress during the pandemic.
“I like to swim or hike. Some people like to golf or just getting outside,” Mary Fatora-Tumbaga said.
Towards the end, faculty and staff enjoyed some breathing techniques and yoga led by professor Laura Dillman.
“I love all the benefits that my students get from my class,” Dillman said. “I love when my students get deeper benefits. When they say they like themselves better, or they know how to deal with their stress, and when students get things much lower than the surface, that will impact their lives.”
Stephanie Shinno, community reporter can be reached at 245-0424 or email@example.com.