Dr. Wai‘ale‘ale Sarsona (left), vice president of Kamehameha Schools’ new Hi‘ialo Group, presented the Community Educator of the Year to Dawn Kau‘i Sang at the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s 18th Annual Native Hawaiian Convention along with KS Senior Policy Analyst Ka‘ano‘i Walk (right). Sang’s two sons Kekama (middle-left) and Haulani Hampe accepted the award on her behalf.
“If we want our people to advance, we have to believe that we can advance.”
The importance of belief and action was reinforced by 2007 Kamehameha Schools Kapālama alumnus and Native Hawaiian activist Kaho‘okahi Kanuha during the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s (CNHA) 18th Annual Native Hawaiian Convention “Ulu O Ka Lā” at the Hawai‘i Convention Center in late September. Throughout the gathering, attendees and presenters shared historical notes, notable successes and plans for the future to help the lāhui thrive.
As an exemplary manifestation of this commitment to helping generations of Native Hawaiians thrive, Office of Hawaiian Education Director Dawn Kau‘i Sang was honored as the Kamehameha Schools Community Educator of the Year. The visionary leader was recognized for her principal role in perpetuating Hawaiian language, history and culture through Hawaiian immersion programs and education within Hawai‘i’s public schools. Dr. Wai‘ale‘ale Sarsona, vice president of Kamehameha Schools’ new Hi‘ialo Group, presented the award to Sang at the convention, and her two sons accepted the award on her behalf.
“I am truly grateful and humbled to receive this award,” said Sang. “Our keiki are the stewards of our future and the recipients of our teachings; it is up to all of us to help make sure they are given the right tools to succeed in life as industrious and moral people. This award is a tremendous honor, one that would not have happened if it weren’t for the teachings that I have received myself. Mahalo for believing in me and I promise to carry out my duties as an educator for all our keiki throughout the Hawai‘i.”
Added Sang’s son Kekama Hampe: “Not only does she help students like me and my peers, but she works to better the educational experience for all Native Hawaiians, and for that, I am proud to be her son.”
The Native Hawaiian Community Educator of the Year award recognizes education leaders in Hawai‘i who nurture learning environments that successfully engage Native Hawaiian learners. Sang is an advocate for perpetuating Hawaiian education and culture, while continually reaching out to pursue endeavors that further cultivate Hawaiian culture-based learning.
The award aligns with the Hi‘ialo Group’s charge to foster the holistic development of Native Hawaiians as local and global leaders, from early learning through adulthood.
“Her work to champion Nā Hopena Aʻo (HĀ) and bring it to the classroom as foundational for all of Hawaiʻi’s keiki and our statewide educational system has seen tremendous support and positive change at all levels,” said Sarsona. “She has continuously stepped up when called to serve in various capacities that advance our lāhui, and creates an environment for our haumāna, ʻohana, and kaiāulu to thrive. She is the epitome of a humble servant leader.
“I had the privilege of growing up with her on the Waimānalo homestead and I know she continues her ‘ohana legacy as an advocate for Native Hawaiians.”
KS employees representing multiple departments and backgrounds attended and participated in the convention, including some who organized caucuses focused on education and ʻāina in an effort to help CNHA identify crucial policy priorities for next year.
“It was important to collaborate with the CNHA and Native Hawaiian community leaders as we work together to uplift our lāhui,” said KS Senior Policy Analyst Sommerset Wong. “By sharing ideas and approaches to the many complex issues facing our people, we hope to find effective solutions that benefit Hawaiians for generations to come.”
The spirit of collaboration was a common theme throughout the convention, which included multiple platforms on which Native Hawaiians could showcase their talents, including a marketplace and basketball tournament.
“We are bringing about solutions that address the needs of our community, like access to capital, community development assistance, and strategic policy advocacy discussions that will help us navigate barriers,” said CNHA CEO Joe Kūhiō Lewis. “It is important that we celebrate who we are, where we come from, but to also understand the challenges ahead and build a vision worthy of our energy.”
KS employees representing multiple departments and backgrounds attended and participated in the convention, including some who helped to organize caucuses focused on education and ʻāina in an effort to help CNHA identify crucial policy priorities for next year. Included in the ‘āina caucus were, from left: City & County of Honolulu’s Chief Resilience Officer Josh Stanbro; KS Senior Director of Statewide ‘Āina Operations and Resources Kekoa Kaluhiwa; DLNR’s First Deputy Director Bob Masuda; Associate Professor of Oceanography and Sea Grant at UH Mānoa Dr. Rosie Alegado; and Native Hawaiian advocate and spokesperson Kamana‘opono Crabbe.