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SEL Partnership Program

Weʻre happy to announce that ʻAkahiao has had the opportunity to participate with a brand new pilot program focused on Place-Based Social-Emotional Development. This triad partnership includes ʻAkahiao Nature Institute (ANI), University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo (UHH), and Waiakeawaena Elementary. Weʻre creating a place-based social-emotional learning curriculum, based in the Nā Hopena Aʻo (HĀ) framework, and is tailored to meet third-grade standards. 


We were introduced to this project by Margary Martin, Executive Director of the UH Hilo Center for Place-Based Social-Emotional Development. She instructs a course on this topic and has designated Keiran, a UH student, to help us develop the curriculum along the HĀ framework. The HĀ framework is also a pilot program that emerged from the Hawaiʻi Department of Education. “HĀ is a department-wide framework to develop the skills, behaviors and dispositions that are reminiscent of Hawaiʻi’s unique context, and to honor the qualities and values of the indigenous language and culture of Hawaiʻi.”¹ This brings in many of the mālama ʻāina concepts as well as sense of place, responsibility, and belonging.

We’re also working with Abel Maldonado, third grade kumu (teacher) from Waiakeawaena Elementary. Abel is now teaching remotely and instructing distance learning with his students. This has been a huge shift for the realm of education and ʻohana and keiki at home. 


Finally, ʻAkahiao is representing the third pillar of the triad, and bringing place-based learning and knowledge. We plan on incorporating moʻolelo (stories), history, and land-use practices. These make up the character of the land and bring life to the place referred to as Huʻehuʻe. 


Weʻve brainstormed ideas that are geared around third grade themes and standards. Our chosen topic of focus is “Ola i ka wai” or water is life. Weʻd like to peer into the water cycle, why water is important, where it comes from, where it goes, and most importantly our pilina (relationship) with it. We feel that this is a very important topic as water is essential to life. Wealth in ancient Hawaiian times was referred to as waiwai, and that meant you had access to fresh water sources, which placed water as the utmost importance.

Weʻre grateful to be a part of this opportunity and to offer this to the community. We hope to launch this program in the Spring of 2021. Stay tuned for more details.

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