I had the very unfortunate experience of working here as a student teacher for one semester. I came with years of teaching experience and a solid undergraduate education. I worked with a "mentor" in a class of second graders. This teacher was uncreative and dispassionate, and she primarily taught her dull lessons from the overhead projector. This approach forced the kids to remain still in their seats for the majority of the day, which is developmentally inappropriate for the age group. English language learners were frequently kept from their recess to finish work they had not completed, even though ELL supports were extremely inadequate and understaffed.
It was very clear that this teacher was stressed by the curriculum and the principal's expectations, but she took this out on the children through frequent and punitive verbal abuse (yelling, shaming, and even once threw a child's paper on the ground because he forgot to write his name and told him: this makes me sick). The children were only seven or eight years old. The classroom climate was one of fear and intimidation. The most memorable "learning" that took place was that of survival, or how to avoid being yelled at by the teacher. At one point in the semester, I was even informed that the principal had gone to Las Vegas on vacation because he was "stressed." My understanding was that the poor professionalism and lack of commitment to the children was trickling down from the leadership, effectively creating an overall culture of unpleasantness.
I will say that I met a few very nice individuals at this school, including other teachers. But the classroom where I worked was depressing and discouraging. Furthermore, several of the children in my class came from difficult home lives, only to be treated like garbage at school. I find this to be UNACCEPTABLE. If you are a parent in this district, I urge you to seek a district exemption so that your child can be spared the risk of such a negative learning experience. Based on the classroom where I worked, Ala Wai is a very sad place to be a child.
I can only make this rating based on my evaluation of the teacher with whom I worked (a second grade teacher). I met many nice individuals on this campus. Unfortunately, this teacher was not one of them.
Real respect for others by children can only be gained through modeling desired actions and integrity on the part of the teacher, not through fear. Unfortunately, in the classroom where I worked, the teacher used yelling and intimidation to control student behavior and to achieve the illusion of "respect" from them. Students were not respected in this classroom, therefore they did not actually learn respect. What they learned was obedience in the face of authority in order to avoid punishment. This does not contribute to a foundation for a healthy society and democracy.
I went to this school as a child, and even from then I was always encouraged to push myself beyond the classroom, the importance of finding out more about my favorite lessons, and how to use the Internet and libraries during a time when not every student could have a computer in their home. The influence my teachers had on me really helped me throughout the later years of my secondary schooling, and today I'm attending college working to get a degree in psychology. I highly recommend this school to every child
my daughter went there on her fifth year. and then my son just last year attended kindergarten there. both my children had a blast there. my son especially. he enjoyed everyday day that he went to school. and his teacher did an outstanding job. we moved last summer. the school his attending right now is mesmerized at how much he knows. he received a N.Gresham blue ribbon reward last fall for his outstanding effort. thanks to ala wai school for setting that foundation.
My son went to this school last school year 2009-2010. He was in kindergarten, his teacher was extraordinary, she always went above and beyond with my son. I always saw the principal around asking for feedback and making sure everyone was on the same page. I love this school; my son had a beautiful experience. We left Honolulu because we are a military family and we truly miss this school.
Our experience with Ala Wai Elementary has been nothing but positive. My oldest son has attended for 2 yrs now (K and 1st). His first grade teacher, Mrs. Sato, has gone out of her way to keep him engaged and challenged in class. This school really cares about it's students, academically and emotionally. Even with 'furlough Fridays' and budget cuts they continue to give it everything they have. The Principal, Mrs. Unni and Vice Principal Mrs, Mendonca are very active at the school, and highly visible and approchable. (I've even seen them directing traffic to keep our keiki safe). Mr. Yim, the lower grades Counselor, is always keeping an eye out for new ways to help the kids. Mr. Toby and Miss Ruthie from the PSAP program are dedicated to the children in their care. I would recommend this school to anyone.
Ala Wai School is awesome. The teachers and staff are very caring about the individual child. My child is fortunate to be in this school. I don't know the Principal personally but she must be quite a wonderful woman; Counselor Mr. Makaimoku is priceless.