WAIMEA — Waimea High School Vice Principal Denise Karratti was one of 10 individuals to receive a 2021-22 Hawai‘i Education Association scholarship for the pursuit of higher education and professional development.
Karratti received a $2,000 In-Service Public School Educator Scholarship that will be used toward tuition. She is working on her master’s degree in education leadership with a school administrator certification.
She decided to make the move into leadership after more than a decade of experience as a classroom teacher.
“I will always identify as a teacher at heart, but I want to have a more magnified reach,” Karratti said. “You have that in a leadership position.”
Working in education has been extremely challenging since the start of the pandemic, but Karratti has optimism for a better future.
“This challenge creates opportunity to be reflective and really think about what we want to do (in education),” said Karatti. “(Currently) our schools are not serving all of our students. We need to ask ourselves how we can make that better.”
As a school leader, Karatti wants to make sure that the needs of both teachers and students are met during this difficult time.
“We have to be so mindful about supporting our teachers. They are our front line for our students. If they are burning out, then our students are not going to be receiving our best,” Karatti said. “At the end of the day, the bottom line is our students. We are here to do the best for our keiki, and that is what they deserve.”
Karatti is mindful of how Hawaiian history and culture can enhance the learning environment. Waimea High School has several grant-funded project-based learning initiatives coming up this school year including one in aquaponics.
“There is a lot of movement for project-based learning right now and when you look at Hawai‘i, that is the way students learned in the ahupua’a,” she said. Ahupua’a refers to a community extending from the mountain to the sea, bound by a common watershed.
As a leader Karatti also thinks a lot about ‘olelo no’eau — the reciprocal relationship between teaching and learning.
“I truly believe that each individual has something unique to offer,” she said in a written statement to The Garden Island. “We each have gifts. Public education then becomes a tool we use to help students discover, develop, and share their gifts to create abundant communities. It’s about unleashing our gifts so that Hawai‘i and her people can thrive for generations to come.”