PBCTE-Secondary “Grow Our Own” Student

Espie Chapman

“It was the students, teacher friends, and my family who gave me the confidence to return to college after twenty years while holding down a full-time job and raising my household.”


Kaʻōhao, HI


School of Teacher Education - Secondary

Related Degrees

  • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate, Secondary Education (PBCTE, Secondary)

Where do you work?
Kaʻōhao Public Charter School

How did you become interested in the field of secondary education?
I became interested in the field of Secondary Education while advising on the Kaʻōhao School Student Council. The energy and heart the students brought to our discussions were the reasons I decided to be a mentor in the classroom. I say mentor as opposed to teacher because what I have experienced is true learning from the student’s perspective. The young leaders of today are compassionate, caring, and most of all kind to each other. The genuine care demonstrated for their community, school, teachers, and vision to be agents of social change in the future will fill our cup.

Briefly describe your road to college.
My road back to college was a surprise. I have always been inspired by the student-centered rigorous educators at Kaʻōhao School. I already had my teaching license and in times of emergencies, I would jump in the classroom to help fill in. The light in the students’ eyes and excitement in their responses assured me that it was time to make the leap into a classroom of my own. It was the students, teacher friends, and my family who gave me the confidence to return to college after twenty years while holding down a full-time job and raising my household. I was informed about the Grow Our Own program, and I decided that it would be a fit for me.

Why did you select the UHM COE?
After reading the COE’s mission and vision of a “Sense of Purpose, Sense of Place,” talking to several friends who were attending UH, I knew that UHM was the university where I wanted to become certified as a highly qualified Hawaiʻi educator. UHM’s cultural diversity and inclusion is in alignment with my identity to be an innovative, collaborative educator in the classroom.

What does the “Grow Our Own” initiative and stipend mean to you?
Grow Our Own means to me to “pay it forward.” I am grateful for the opportunity to give back to my community and future leaders of the world. The most exciting part of the stipend is that I am going to be offered an educator job in the Hawaiʻi DOE and in “paying it forward,” I will have a direct impact in shaping the future of education. How cool is that? It’s kind of like a superpower. I hope to instill a sense of Aloha and Community through wonderment, empathy, and student action while encouraging students to thrive in learning and fact-finding education.

Is there anyone in particular who inspired/inspires you to pursue teaching as a career?
I truly believe the students were my push to return to college. I wanted more time with the students as we explored their ideas and goals. Student Council is extracurricular, so you take the time that you can get. Once I realized that I could actually have a class of my own with student leaders, that made returning to college less scary. When I look back on my own educational experiences, Mrs. Hales (1st grade), Mr. David Boshko (7th and 9th grade), and Dr. Kate Hausebeck (UNLV) made my learning come to life. What those teachers have in common is that they were kind, patient, and supportive as I tried to figure out my own education.

What are your plans after graduation?
I plan to teach at the middle school level in social studies, social action, and social change through Random Acts of Kindness and Community Engagement. My personal goal is to continue to serve the student leaders who aim to make our world better. I always joke with my students that when they are in charge of the world to make sure the laws and policies are being followed and equal for me as a “senior citizen.” I hope to provide a lasting and valuable impact in the education world after graduation. I’m still learning and testing the waters out there, so we will see where the students lead me.


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