BEd in Elementary Education & Hawaiian Language Immersion*

Daniel Forsythe

“Having a statewide program was so so helpful because it allowed me to stay in my hometown, contributing to my community and working in my field while I pursued and eventually completed my degree and teaching licenses.”


Lānaʻi, HI


School of Teacher Education - Elementary

Related Degrees

  • BEd, Elementary/Hawaiian Language Immersion

How did you become interested in the field of education? Is there anyone in particular who inspired you to pursue a career in education?
I learned ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi as an adult, and there was a need in my community for Hawaiian Language educators.

My first position at a school was working in the Hawaiian Studies program under the late ʻAnakē Irene Davis who was a shining star in our community, perpetuating native Hawaiian fiber arts and passing on loina Hawaiʻi to this generation of children on our island. I also work closely with Simeona Tajiri, another new Kumu Kaiapuni from Lānaʻi. We graduated at the same time from different kulanui, under the mentorship of Kumu Ipolani Medeiros, our shared mentor who moved to Lānaʻi to start our Kaiapuni program with a combination K/1 class. Simeona has previous experience at the Lānaʻi culture and Heritage Center and brings a wealth of knowledge about Lānaʻi, its history, and its people into our program. Kumu Ipolani brings a wealth of experience from having worked at Pāʻia School’s immersion program since its inception. These three people are guiding lights and sources of inspiraiton, constantly propelling me forward as I grow and develop my skills as an educator.

Why did you choose to pursue the BEd in Elementary Education & Hawaiian Language Immersion program?
This program felt tailor made to my goals as I needed to complete a teaching license, and I wasn’t able to move to Oʻahu or Hawaiʻi for years to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

What was your favorite course or something you learned that has had the biggest impact on your teaching career?
My favorite course was our performing arts course. I learned there how to create a safe space to share and be creative while working toward shared goals, as well as the value of being seen and appreciated by peers in a learning setting.

What was the best part about your classroom field experience in the program?
The best part of field experience was seeing the concepts and skills I was learning being modeled for me, live. Reading books and watching videos builds a base sense of what teaching is, but seeing strategies implemented in person brought it all to life in an invaluable way.

How did being a part of a cohort impact your experience in the program?
Being part of a cohort provided a community and a sense of mutual support and encouragement that was crucial to my success in the program and now as a full-time teacher.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering pursuing this program?
I would recommend this program to anyone who isn’t able to commit to living full time on Oʻahu and who wants to teach in Hawaiʻi. It’s a hard program and a lot to keep track of, but it’s so so worth it.

Are you currently working?
I am currently teaching first grade Hawaiian Immersion at my hometown’s school where I was a student.

How do you feel your COE program helped you along your career path? How did the faculty support you?
A critical way this program helped me as a teacher was by preparing me for the Educator Effectiveness System. Because our assignments all line up with components of the Charlotte Danielson Framework, moving to a professional rating system that uses the same criteria was a smooth transition.

What are your future plans in this career path?
I hope to stay a classroom teacher for my career and raise a generation of Hawaiian speakers on my island where we currently have very few.

Why is recruiting students locally important, and how does having a statewide program support you, your school, and/or your community?
Having a statewide program was so so helpful because it allowed me to stay in my hometown, contributing to my community and working in my field while I pursued and eventually completed my degree and teaching licenses.

What do you love most about teaching?
I love seeing the students grow and develop, especially as Hawaiian speakers.

* Forsythe is one of the first to graduate from the BEd in Elementary Education and Hawaiian Language Immersion Dual Licensure Program.


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