Lezlie Kanamu, MEd Curriculum Studies Alumna

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Lezlie Kanamu
“As a teacher who was once a student who felt disconnected from her education that spoke of squirrels, basements, and snow, I hope to help revitalize the normalcy of Hawaiian and local culture in the classroom.”
Hometown:

Wailuku, Maui

Department:

Curriculum Studies

Degree:

Bed in Elementary and Early Childhood Education, MEd in Curriculum Studies: STEMS²

Where do you work?
I am a kindergarten teacher at Blanche Pope Elementary.

Why did you choose the College of Education?
I chose the College of Education at UHM because it’s a program here in Hawai‘i that sees the importance of educating our educators to stay and teach in Hawaiʻi. I wanted a program that values educators and uses field study and student teaching to help reinforce the importance of the work we do, especially as we are in an economic climate where being a teacher may not be the most financially sound decision.

How did you become interested in STEMS²?
STEMS2 is all about utilizing the resources, people, and love for Hawaiʻi, which are already here, as essential tools for teaching our keiki. I learned about the program during my first year as an undergrad at the college. My cohort coordinator, Leah Muccio, saw what I wanted education in my classroom to be and knew STEMS2 was going to help me in my journey to achieve my vision.

What was the best part of the program for you?
The best part of the program would have to be the amount of opportunities students and staff have to network with individuals and organizations that see the importance of using cultural and place-based knowledge in the classroom. I have been able to build relationships and friendships with people who wish to share their manaʻo (thoughts/beliefs) and expertise with the keiki of our schools so that we can give them power over their learning. 

How have the people and the program in the COE helped you along your way with your career?
Everyone in our cohort worked full time in the education field during the school year, and our coordinator as well as professors were very supportive in helping us to find balance between work, our personal lives, and the program. My cohort is like a family. We created a WhatsApp group chat for the purpose of being ‘accountabilibuddies,’ and that chat has yet to be inactive. STEMS2 Director Tara O’Neill always said, “You all are your most valuable resources, so don’t be afraid to reach out to each other as well as to us for ideas and help.” We took and still take that to heart as we share about endeavors in our careers and classrooms.

In what ways do you hope to make a difference using the knowledge you have gained?
As a teacher who was once a student who felt disconnected from her education that spoke of squirrels, basements, and snow, I hope to help revitalize the normalcy of Hawaiian and local culture in the classroom. 

What are your future plans?
I hope to always continue my own learning of cultural and place-based knowledge to better my teaching practices. I also hope to make an impact on our state’s view of place-based education for our children.