Two College of Education (COE) projects were represented at the 2022 Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Summit on October 8, 2022 at the Sheraton, Waikīkī. Last fall, Governor David Ige awarded $8.1 million in innovation grants to schools, colleges, and other educational entities throughout Hawaiʻi with a focus on STEM education, project-based learning opportunities, and leadership development.
Thirty-four GEER Grant projects came together to share lessons, outcomes, and potential impacts on children, families, and communities. Janet Kim’s SPEDucator Project and Vail Matsumoto’s Waipahu Safe Haven project were among them.
“The 2022 GEER Summit was a wonderful opportunity to connect with other projects over what we collectively learned throughout the process to implement innovative change and to highlight everything we were able to accomplish over the last year,” Kim said.
A partnership between the COE and Hawaiʻi Department of Education (HIDOE), the SPEDucator Project addresses the recruitment-to-retention pipeline of special education teachers in Hawaiʻi and aims to build a community of support for all stakeholders in special education.
“Overall, the GEER Grant was exactly what our project was looking for,” Kim continued. “As a grassroots initiative that started amidst the pandemic, our project was searching for a way to keep our group going for the 2021-2022 school year.”
With the GEER funding, SPEDucators were able to attend the national Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) conference. This resulted in a partnership with the local Hawaiʻi CEC and will allow them to continue the project long-term.
“We are so grateful to Governor and First Lady Ige, as being part of this grant gave us the resources and support to dream big and enact change in support of our special education community here in Hawai‘i,” Kim concluded.
Waipahu Safe Haven aims to create and maintain a safe space for the Waipahu community, including Marshallese and Chuukese families whose academic and cultural progress was disrupted by the pandemic. Over the last year, community members were supported through cultural and educational sessions, which included provisions to renovate an existing structure into a sustainable community center beyond the life of the grant.
“The COE Safe Haven GEER project aimed to provide crucial construction supplies for the renovation of their portable building while supporting the tutoring and cultural classes for the center’s students,” Matsumoto said. “We are so grateful for this opportunity to give back to the Waipahu community that has given so much to our COE faculty and candidates.”
GEER Grant Impact
- SPEDucator Project Website & Reflection Video: bit.ly/speducator-project
- SPEDucator & COE PBSPED Alumna, Kristel Brogdon’s Profile: https://coe.hawaii.edu/sped/profiles/kristel-brogdon/
- Waipahu Safe Haven Immigrant Resource Center: https://waipahusafehaven.com/