Students Learn Early In Academies

From Waipahu High School’s Todd Nakayama comes news that the school’s Lodging Management Program won the third-place trophy in the national competition held during spring break.

The students earned second-place honors in the Knowledge Bowl and Hospitality Project portions of the competition. Waipahu also has earned awards at past national events.

The Marauder effort is one of 155 nationwide that uses our parent AHLA’s Lodging Management Program. Locally, Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association provides support, while several hotels and tourism-related businesses offer internships, job shadowing and on-the-job involvement in event planning.

The learning component has in-depth studies of the travel industry, with coursework in hospitality, communication, management, sales and marketing, food and beverage, event planning and community service.

The work experience has the added benefit of creating networking and relationship-building opportunities for the young people.

Students can earn college credit upon completion of two national exams, or can receive a certification in several hotel-specific fields.

Nakayama, who heads Waipahu’s Academy of Hospitality and Tourism, has been recognized for his academic leadership, earning the AHLA’s national Lamp of Knowledge Award and the state’s Lodging Management Program Teacher of the Year honor, both in 2010.

Waipahu is one of six public schools that have an Academy of Hospitality and Tourism.

The program combines a classroom curriculum with hands-on experience to stimulate learning and problem-solving skills, develop good work attitudes, and even pave the way for a fulfilling career in the travel industry.

In addition to Waipahu, the other schools with academies are McKinley on Oahu; Baldwin, Maui, and Lahainaluna on the Valley Isle; and Kauai on the Garden Isle.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet the dynamic directors of two: Waipahu’s Nakayama during a visit for the program’s graduation, and Kauai’s Kathy Morishige, in conjunction with last year’s Visitor Industry Charity Walk in Lihue. (Leah Aiwohi has since taken Morishige’s place.)

Academy students from Kauai High have been very active in broadening their knowledge by participating in numerous civic events in the community or in charity affairs held at hotel properties on the island, visiting hotels and attractions on Oahu, and joining the annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk, where I met them.

Nelson GalanoOur visitor industry is in excellent hands – the hands of exceptional employees like those honored by HLTA Kauai chapter in the Malama Awards, and the future leaders being developed in programs like the Department of Education’s tourism academies.


Nelson Galano

Position: Engineer
Location: Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa

Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa’s management and staff know they can count on engineer Nelson Galano to do his job with enthusiasm and expertise. That’s why he was honored at the recent Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association’s Na Po’e Pa’ahana awards ceremony as a nominee for engineer/maintenance person of the year.

Nelson has been known to pitch in to help the front desk agents by serving as a valet and bellman, delivering luggage to late-evening arrivals. Once, when some late-arriving children were fussing for something to eat, Nelson fixed sandwiches and delivered them to the grateful family – declining a generous tip to boot. He managed to calm a frantic mother who had locked her infant in the car and found a way to unlock the vehicle. He even did an emergency switch on a faulty room refrigerator so a guest could keep her disabled husband’s medications chilled. First to respond to any need at the Sheraton Maui, Nelson Galano responds to the community’s needs as well.

He helps raise funds for StarWish, the Sheraton’s nonprofit organization, supports the Visitor Industry Charity Walk, serves meals to senior citizens through the hotel’s kupuna dinner program and help the Salvation Army’s homeless services.