MEd in Early Childhood Education
“Early childhood education is extremely important… It is their first experience at a school with a teacher and their peers, and it is where they learn how to interact, build relationships, gain a sense of self-confidence, and develop interests and a learning style, which will stay with them..."
I was raised in Mānoa Valley on the island of Oʻahu. However, I spent every weekend in Heʻeia Kea, Koʻolaupoko Oʻahu with my maternal grandmother. So, I am a townie with Koʻolaupoko roots.
- MEd, Early Childhood Education
Where do you work?
I am a kumu at Pāhoa Elementary School in the EOEL Pre-K classroom for 4-year-old keiki in Pāhoa, Puna on the island of Moku o Keawe (Hawaiʻi Island).
How did you become interested in the field of early education?
I was fortunate to have an outstanding early childhood education experience and am a proud alumna of The Early School preschool and Hale Mohala Elementary (closed in the 90ʻs). These two schools emphasized experience and hands-on learning through play and creativity. They both valued strong relationships, and school was truly a magical place where I felt valued, safe, and loved. The relationships I made with the teachers and my peers at both schools have continued to this day, which has so much to do with their values and culture that have had a lasting positive impact on me personally.
Why do you think early childhood education is so important?
Early childhood education is extremely important as childhood is a unique time in every personʻs life. Childhood and ECE is when keiki first learn how to learn. It is their first experience at a school with a teacher and their peers, and it is where they learn how to interact, build relationships, gain a sense of self-confidence, and develop interests and a learning style, which will stay with them throughout their entire life.
How has the COE program impacted or benefited your career path?
The COE Summer Cohort V program has changed my professional life completely. When I entered the program, I was a teaching assistant at a private school with very little opportunity for professional growth. I am deeply grateful to the dedication of the department, including Kumu Robyn Chun who has dedicated hours of her time to support my professional growth. She helped me gain my State of Hawaiʻi Teaching License, helping me navigate the complex process on a non-traditional track. I have continued to attend classes and learning opportunities post-graduation, which has furthered my skill set and knowledge base as a kumu.
Is there anyone in particular who inspired you to pursue education as a career?
My great (maternal) aunty was an early childhood educator and SPED teacher. Because she lived overseas, I only saw her once or twice a year growing up, but seeing her dedication to teaching and hearing about the fulfillment she had through her work with young children showed me what was possible. She returned to Hawaiʻi when I was considering pursuing an ECE degree, and she encouraged me, speaking with such passion about her work with young children. She truly inspired me, and I continue to admire the depth of her dedication to all of the children she supported during her long career as an educator.
What are your future visions and goals?
I would like to eventually return to school and pursue a PhD in ECE with an emphasis on Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) keiki and ʻohana.