Na'alehu Elementary School (2014-2015)

Michelle Buck

"By weaving together the strands of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, and Culture, we are a stronger honua. A world woven together to promote peace!"


Owensboro, Kentucky


Curriculum Studies

Related Degrees

  • Ethnomathematics PD

Where do you work?
I teach 4th grade at Na’alehu Elementary School, and I am the Lead Curriculum Presenter for the Moanalua Gardens Foundation.

How has the Ethnomathematics program impacted or benefitted your career path?
Ethnomathematics helped me build connections with passionate individuals who I still keep in contact with today. I now know who to reach out to when I need more insights, ideas, and strategies for the classroom.

What does ethnomathematics mean to you?
Attending college at the University of Hawaii Manoa, living and teaching on Oahu, joining a hula halau, presenting the Aloha `Aina Curriculum for Moanalua Gardens Foundation, and spending almost a decade with Kamehameha Schools, I have been fortunate to be immersed in the Hawaiian culture. I always felt like I had received bits and pieces of cultural experiences, and they always tugged at my emotions, but it wasn’t until I was selected to attend the Ethnomathematics Institute that the emotional piece connected to the academic piece. Discovering that Mathematics is INTENTIONAL in indigenous cultures was truly an eye-opening and rewarding epiphany for me! I look at the world differently now. I see patterns and mathematical influences in all I see….it has given me a new perspective on how very much alike people really are!

Is there anyone in particular who inspired you to pursue teaching as a career?
Both my parents were educators….genetic defect.  🙂

How did you become interested in the field of education?
Education was a huge part of my childhood. Both my parents were educators; my father taught at the university level, my mom at the Kindergarten/Elementary level. Our family would travel to schools in our community and present a marionette show that explained the Greek myth about the changing of the seasons. We were ALWAYS in school. My siblings and I played “School” on the weekends. It was a way of life at our house!

What are your future visions and goals?
I would love to help develop and create an Ethnomathematics Institute here on the Big Island! For me, the Ethnomathematics Institute has been like doing the work of kanaka ulana, the weaver. My classmates and I are the natural materials used as the warp and the weft, and together we are producing a ‘weaving’ … A lauhala mat from Hawaii? A reed basket from Nigeria? A silk tapestry from France? Each of us brought our own thread of different colors and textures, and our diversity has added gold and silver accents to the ‘weaving.’ Alone, each piece was beautiful, but as the strands have been woven together, the product became unexpectedly breathtaking! The same is true on an academic level. By weaving together the strands of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, and Culture, we are a stronger honua. A world woven together to promote peace!

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