One afternoon as Calvin Endo was cooking dinner for teachers at Waianae High School – something he regularly volunteers to do as a member the school’s Parent Teacher Association – he received a mysterious phone call. A man he had never met was calling to congratulate him for an award he didn’t even know he had been nominated for.
The man was calling from the national PTA to inform Endo that he had been selected as a Champion of Change – a national recognition by the White House to acknowledge people who are making a difference in their communities. Endo was one of just 12 PTA members from around the country to receive the honor.
Endo says that the phone call was a “total surprise … I just do this because I love helping people. I had no idea that somebody was watching me do what I was doing.”
And Endo is doing a whole lot. He first joined the Waianae High School PTA as the parent and community representative after retiring from a 30-year career as a welder at Pearl Harbor in 2003. He also serves as chairman of the education committee for Waianae Neighborhood Board and is involved with the statewide education coalition Hui for Excellence in Education (HE’E). Endo, a longtime Waianae resident who grew up in Palolo Housing, has 11 children of his own with wife Susan, and says that they both have always been passionate about working with keiki.
“I just do this because I love helping people. I had no idea that somebody was watching me do what I was doing.”
As the parent and community representative at Waianae, Endo works to garner parent and community involvement at the school. “As the PTA, we are the voice for the children, advocating for them, making sure that schools are running correctly and the kids are getting a good education,” Endo says.
Endo also hosts monthly meetings with the principals of area schools, as well as community members. “I try to meet with them to see what kind of concerns they have, what things that are going on at school,” he says.
Through HE’E, which brings together various community stakeholders to identify ways in which they can support education, Endo also works with education-related legislation on issues such as bullying in schools and early childhood education.
After returning from a four-day trip to Washington, D.C., last week for the Champion of Change, Endo got right back to work: He attended a HE’E meeting the next morning and then prepared a spaghetti dinner for Waianae teachers in the afternoon. “I always am just looking for something I can do to just support our teachers … and our kids,” Endo says. “The kids need to have somebody they can depend on who is looking out for their interests.
“We just need – across the state – for people to say education needs to be a high priority,” he adds. “For too long people have not been watching what is going on, and it has not been the best system we can offer our kids. That is our big push now to make it happen.”