Helemano Elementary Earns Strive HI Achievement Award

Helemano students Michael Yoro and Caithleen Pambid discuss the joy of reading in class. Photo from Helemano Elementary School.

Helemano students Michael Yoro and Caithleen Pambid discuss the joy of
reading in class. Photo from Helemano Elementary School.


Helemano Elementary School recently earned a gold star for achievement, backed by $15,000 in DOE Strive HI cash for high performance.

The state Department of Education named the Whitmore Village school and 14 other elementary schools across the state to Recognition status within the Strive HI Performance System, in which high performance is defined as achieving significant success or improvements in the 2013-14 school year, and being among the top 5 percent to do so.

“Their success demonstrates what’s possible when an entire school community works together toward a common goal of student success,” stated deputy superintendent Ronn Nozoe. “I congratulate all of the administrators, teachers, students and parents in these (15) schools for their dedication and commitment to success.”

Helemano principal Ernest Muh said the school scored 375 out of a possible 400 points, making it the state’s fifth highest-scoring school.

“It shows how committed our faculty and staff are to helping our students achieve to their highest potential,” he said.

Schools were graded on their achievement scores in math, reading and science, plus the effort to cut chronic absenteeism and close the achievement gap. Helemano saw an increase of 13 percent in its science scores. Absenteeism was cut in half, from 16 percent to 8 percent. Muh said their success in keeping kids in school is the result of reaching beyond the classroom. “We want parents to know how important it is for their kids to be in school. Our counselors also were key in communicating with families.”

The school must spend its reward on such things as professional development, technology, musical instruments, science lab equipment and other improvement strategies. Muh said he will meet with faculty to identify the school’s biggest needs and that the funds will likely be spent in one area.

He said the school needs technology upgrades, but that its strongest need might be in professional development, which also benefitted from the assessment program.

“We have been able to use our assessment data to identify areas for growth and provide the professional development to support those areas,” he said.

Overall, Hawaii’s centralized school system is comprised of 255 schools and 33 charter schools, serving more than 185,000 students.