Hometown Heroes: Fund donates $40,000 to support four Big Island schools

  • Courtesy photo Second from left, Sharon Vitousek and, lower front, Lynn White, present a check to WMPCCS’ Youth Intervention Specialist Lori Ching, Principal Janice English, and retired principal and grants coordinator Pat Rice.

The Hawaii Learning Resource Fund at Hawaii Community Foundation recently distributed $40,000 to help four Hawaii Island schools address COVID-19 impacts in the coming school year. The recipient schools are Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School, Waimea Elementary School, Kanu O Ka ‘Aina New Century Public Charter School and Waimea Country School.

“The need to effectively support state-of- the-art teaching and learning in our community has never been greater,” said Sharon Vitousek, former board chair of Hawaii Learning Resource, about the recent distribution.

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Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School will use the grant to build on a successful initiative from the 2019-20 school year, to support the continuation of the position of Youth Intervention Specialist, who identifies and supports “at-risk” students and builds individualized interventions through positive productive relationships with the students and their families. According to retired principal and grants coordinator Pat Rice, “The Youth Intervention Specialist has had a tremendous impact on all our students, especially those who struggle in school. This position is now in danger due to our budget constraints, and the $10,000 from the Hawaii Learning Resource Fund … will be a much needed asset.”

Waimea Elementary School will use the grant to purchase student licenses for Acellus Learning Accelerator, which provides instructional consistency between school and the home.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools to look at how they deliver instruction and the tools that students are required to use to access their learning,” said Principal Scott Tamura. “An innovative solution is needed to bridge the gap between school and home learning, and we feel that the Acellus Learning Accelerator is that solution.”

Waimea Country School will create a Resource Aide position to handle tasks outlined in the school’s COVID-19 Response Plan in order to allow teachers to focus on children’s learning. Principal Amy Salling shared, “Heading into this school year of disruption and uncertainty, we are seeking to support those students in our school who are at greatest risk of falling behind, specifically the children with learning differences. Demands on both teachers and aides are going to be greater than ever.”

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Kanu O Ka ‘Aina New Century Public Charter School will use the funds to provide professional development for K-12 kumu [teachers] that are focused on strengthening project, place, and culture-based education.

For more information on the Hawaii Learning Resource Fund of the Hawaii Community Foundation, please contact Sharon Vitousek, sharon.vitousek@gamil.com and Malu Debus, mdebus@hcf-hawaii.org.

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