Two Mililani Residents A Boon To The Community

Sen. Michelle Kidani

We have had the opportunity this summer to recognize two Mililani residents who have truly made a difference – one through her professional career achievements and another as a dedicated volunteer and mentor.

Earlier this month, I joined community and military leaders at the ground breaking for a multimillion- dollar renovation and expansion project at Hale Kula Elementary, our public elementary school located on Schofield Barracks.

Hale Kula faces unique challenges in accommodating students from a highly transient population whose family members are often away for extended periods of training or on overseas combat zone deployment. Over the last decade, the job of pulling it all together has been the responsibility of Hale Kula principal Jan Iwase.

Jan has been a public school administrator since 2001, when she became vice principal at Wahiawa Elementary School, and then principal at Hale Kula in 2003.

She has always displayed the highest standards of professionalism. While providing leadership through lean budget years, Jan found creative ways to enhance the level of instruction to meet Adequate Yearly Progress benchmarks for the last two years.

For her many years of service and her outstanding leadership, the Hawaii chapter of the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the Hawaii Elementary and Middle School Administrators Association recognized Jan as Central District Principal of the Year for 2013.

Principals are the critical factor in shaping the learning environment within their schools, and we are proud that our longtime Mililani neighbor has been recognized for her excellent work.

Just a few days before the Hale Kula project got underway, the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii (JCCH) honored a number of Hawaii citizens who have served that organization and our community with distinction over the last several years. Among them is John Okutani, a Mililani Mauka resident who received the “Spirit of JCCH” award.

John’s first formal encounter with JCCH came in retirement, when he explored the center’s rich resources to learn more about his family history. In time, John became a center volunteer. One thing led to another, and he began to help with research and preservation work on World War II confinement sites, and leading tours through the center’s permanent historical exhibits.

John eventually was asked to coordinate the JCCH volunteer program, and he has proved to be a warm and wonderful mentor and guide to others who provide their time and talents to the center’s programs. His theory on volunteer work is something we could all take to heart – give what you can without expecting anything in return.

Congratulations to Jan and to John for their selfless service on behalf of all of us. Their professional and personal contributions enrich Mililani and all Hawaii.

Contact Sen. Kidani at, or at her State Capitol office, Room 228, telephone 586-7100.