BEd in Elementary Education, Technology Integration Specialist at Kaʻimiloa Elementary School
“I love teaching and connecting with students, but I also found a passion for helping other educators learn about technology.”
School of Teacher Education - Elementary
- BEd, Elementary Education
COEAA Spotlight on James Ro (credit: Kevin Agtarap)
I was born in California, but raised in Texas where I lived from about eight years old until I graduated from high school and joined the U.S. Navy. After serving for nine years and being stationed in Hawaiʻi, I got out of the Navy. I graduated from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education in 2013 and made Hawaiʻi my home. I have a beautiful wife, daughter, and a newborn son who keeps me on my toes.
Road to College
While I was in the Navy, I volunteered at nearby schools to help mentor and tutor kids wherever I was stationed. I really enjoyed working with kids, and I thought I would either become a teacher or a pediatrician until I figured out becoming a pediatrician was going to take too long. I heard about the Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT) program at Leeward Community College (LCC). Since the program fed into UH Mānoa, I figured I’d enroll and the best part was there would be no rush hour traffic to sit in. I loved being at LCC and the whole staff there. I started the first Teacher’s Club and became the president. After graduating with honors, I went to UH Mānoa.
College to Career
I had a great experience at UH. I loved that most of all my classes were in the same area, and I met so many people and made friends, some of whom are now my colleagues. To be honest, after I graduated from UH, I wanted to travel the world before starting my teaching career. I actually sold all of my belongings except one travel bag, but then reality set in. I had to get a job. My professor at that time knew of a public school that needed a position filled. So, I interviewed and got the job. I started as a P.E./Technology Coordinator at Barbers Point Elementary where I wore many hats. I coached their track and basketball teams, started their first robotics program, directed the Project Lead the Way program, and advised the student news program. I also transitioned the school into a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) school. Currently, I am the Technology Integration Specialist at Kaʻimiloa Elementary School.
Passion as an Educator
I love teaching and connecting with students, but I also found a passion for helping other educators learn about technology. In my first year of student teaching, I remember helping my mentor teacher use technology more effectively in her own classroom. Before that, I had part-time jobs at Best Buy and then the Apple store while going to school. If you had a broken iphone/ipad/ipod, there’s a good chance that I might have fixed it.
I love building that trust to where a teacher or staff member can come up to me and ask me for help. They trust that I will help them in the best way that I can and they never feel that there’s a dumb question. I love how technology makes our lives a little easier. With the ever-changing times, we need to show our students how to use technology responsibly. We need to show them the dangers as well as the good that can come from technology.
Air National Guard
I’m so grateful for the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard. They are the best kept secret! I always recommend anyone to join and it’s one of the best organizations that I’ve ever been a part of. As an Officer, I get the opportunity to lead Airmen in my squadron. I currently serve as a cyber operations officer with the 154th Communication Squadron on the Hickam Air Force Base side. As I learn how to be a great leader, I bring that into my school and vice versa. There’s always an opportunity to teach whether you’re in the Guard or in the classroom. As for projects, I had the opportunity to serve during the Kilauea eruptions. I served as a public affairs specialist and was in charge of make sure everyone was safe during news engagements in the hot zone. In fact, I shared that same experience with a fourth-grade class when they were studying land formations. I enjoy sharing my experiences with others in hopes they can learn more about the work that the Hawaiʻi Air National guard does.
Three Fun Facts
1. I’ve been to North Korea.
2. I made a music video which was on the news.
3. I don’t know how to burp.