MEd CS Student (Aloha Kumu Cohort)

Griffin Bolan

“The Aloha Kumu program has been a huge source of inspiration and growth for my own teaching practice, and I’ll forever be grateful for getting the chance to be a part of it.”


Kaimukī, ‘Oahu


Curriculum Studies

Related Degrees

  • MEd, Curriculum Studies: National Board Certification Teacher Leader
  • MEd, Curriculum Studies: P4C Hawaii Leadership

MEd in Curriculum Studies Student, National Board Certification Teacher Leader: p4c Hawai‘i – Aloha Kumu Cohort

How did you become interested in the field of education? The Aloha Kumu Program?
Being a teacher is something that became important to me around 10th grade. Mr. Judge was my biology teacher, and I remember thinking, “Iʻll know Iʻve made it when I can talk about something like this dude talks about mRNA.” More than that, I wanted to be a teacher in Hawai‘i. I had the privilege of attending college in California, and while there, I realized that the things I value most about myself have to do with growing up in Hawai‘i. After talking with a few colleagues who have a relationship with the Aloha Kumu program, it was clear that getting to work and learn alongside local educators was something that I wanted to be a part of my master’s degree. This state is full of dedicated and innovative educators, and it’s been nothing short of inspiring to see what others are getting up to in their classrooms.

Where do you work?
Right now, I am wrapping up my third year of teaching at Wai‘anae High School, and I don’t see myself going anywhere anytime soon. I consider myself lucky to have been hired by the school and even luckier that I have students who can deal with my constant rambling. I teach 10th grade English Language Arts and help coach our cross country program as well as our boy’s JV volleyball team. We also have a pilot SAT/ACT study group that I am hoping we can turn into something more school-wide next year.

Why did you decide to create a YouTube channel* for your students?
In the spirit of honesty, I have never liked online education. While there are a plethora of innovative tech resources out there, I always find myself missing the relationships built in class and in person. The videos are just a way to (hopefully) remind the kids that even though there is a lot out of our control, we can still choose to be creative, learn new things, and have fun together. My co-teacher is also much more tech-savvy than I am, and her edits make the videos far more engaging. I take great pride in going to extreme lengths; I believe the word is “extra,” when it comes to annoying our kids about work that has to happen. Pandemic or not, we are still able to learn and grateful for it.

How has the COE program impacted or benefited your career path?
My Aloha Kumu cohort continues to have a profound impact on almost every aspect of my teaching pedagogy. I am very new to this profession and being able to sit at a table with educators who have genuinely devoted their lives to this vocation and listen to how they think is something I draw on for inspiration far more than I ever imagined. Too often, I feel as if we get entrenched in negative rhetoric concerning the state of our public school system. My professors and colleagues alike have shown me the power in the act of coming together to tackle these issues we all see daily.

Is there anyone in particular who inspired you to pursue teaching as a career?
This next line is going to sound as cliche as it gets, but Iʻve always viewed teaching as an act of love, something that is by no means limited to our idea of “school” and a lot closer to a feeling than a skill. I’ve had the privilege to learn from my family, my friends, teammates, coaches; you name it. I do believe that the feeling of someone caring about you caring is what attracted me to this profession, and to everyone who helped me see that, I owe a great deal of gratitude.

What are your future visions and goals?
As of right now, Iʻm seriously considering the implications of what Iʻm going to make for lunch right now. Do I eat the same thing Iʻve eaten for the last two weeks because I only buy in bulk now? Do I even have a choice? Is it possible to get tired of eating rice with everything? Have I exhausted the mediocre array of spice/sauce options in my pantry to help with this whole rice dilemma? How far into my 50-pound bag of rice will I get before we end social distancing? This quarantine deal makes you think about the essential things in life…

If this program has shown me anything, it’s that teaching necessitates a constant pursuit of knowledge and best practices. I intend to do whatever it takes to better support our kids on the Leeward Coast.

* ELA 10 Online Learning videos feature Griffin Bolan and ELA teacher Sierra Callihan.

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