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Kumu Kelly Cua, Kumu Kēhau Lucas and Kumu Henohea Kāne make up Maui’s Kaʻaikuahiwi design team that’s creating professional development courses for kumu that build cultural competency and vibrancy.

For Kumu, By Kumu: Designing Hawaiian Culture-Based Professional Development

Sept. 8, 2022

When Maui sought resources to support kumu with Hawaiian Culture-Based Education, we realized that most professional development opportunities for teachers approached education from a Western framework. Enter Kaʻaikuahiwi: Teacher Engagement Pathways, a professional development program being led by kumu for kumu that will help grow Kamehameha Schools Maui’s potential to offer world-class HCBE education to our haumāna.

“If our goal is to develop ʻōiwi leaders who are grounded in the ʻike of our kūpuna, that means we need to support our kumu to be able to teach with an emphasis on HCBE. The reality is that there isn’t professional development out there that we can buy off a shelf. We need to develop it ourselves,” said Kumu Kelly Cua, learning and innovation officer, who is leading Kaʻaikuahiwi on the Maui campus.

Kaʻaikuahiwi began 12 months ago as a multi-year, multi-campus initiative geared toward giving kumu the tools that they need to make HCBE a reality in every classroom. The first phase involved designing the initial iteration of courses that build foundational cultural knowledge for kumu. KS Hawaiʻi along with Nā Kula Kamaliʻi are doing similar work.

“Each of our kumu come with different experiences and comfort levels when it comes to E Ola!,” said Kumu Kēhau Lucas, senior design specialist for Kaʻaikuahiwi. E Ola! is the guiding framework that kumu use in the classroom to teach and measure the success of our students. “Regardless of where kumu are in their E Ola! journey, Kaʻaikuahiwi will support kumu to develop their abilities to nurture ʻōiwi leaders,” she said.

Kumu Henohea Kāne, senior design specialist for Kaʻaikuahiwi, said the goal is for kumu to have resources that they can use to inform their teaching practices, build and maintain their connection to the culture of this ʻāina and its people, and integrate ʻike Hawaiʻi into their courses and assignments.

“My dream is to see this campus dripping in culture, where we perpetuate the brilliance that we inherited from those who came before us,” Kāne said. “As a kula Hawaiʻi, this should be a place where our culture is thriving and where our haumāna feel like they’re growing in their identity as ‘ōiwi.”

So far the three kumu who are part of the design process have developed courses that include building connection to ʻāina, honoring historical trauma, foundations in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, and achieving cultural vibrancy.

The project has now entered into its next phase. A select group of kumu will be taking these courses and providing feedback to help further refine the offerings. By next year, the courses will be ready for the wider KS Maui kumu to enjoy. Lucas hopes that this new approach to professional development allows KS Maui to “take back the narrative.”

“For so long, the emphasis was on Western models. Not to say there isn’t value in that, but if we want our own values as a kula Hawaiʻi and as kanaka ʻōiwi to be at the forefront, we have to build it ourselves,” she said.

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