Newly appointed KS Kapālama Elementary School Po‘o Kumu Deede Santiago, KS Kapālama Middle School Po‘o Kumu Kula Gaughen-Haʻili and KS Kapālama High School Po‘o Kumu Wendy Erskine have extensive experience in the private school sector, exhibiting exceptional leadership abilities and a strong understanding of the importance of student-driven learning and Hawaiian culture as part of a global mindset.
Kamehameha Schools has appointed three new po‘o kumu (principals) to its Kapālama campus, following a nationwide search and vetting process. The new elementary, middle and high school principals are dedicated to cultivating world-class education and elevating the educational experience for haumāna.
“The newest leaders of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama are deeply committed to our mission to elevate student achievement and well-being at every level as we continue to develop as a world class institution,” said Dr. Taran Chun, KS Kapālama poʻo kula (head of school). “Moving forward with these leaders will support advancement and continued academic growth for our haumāna and for generations to come, and I know they will be eagerly embraced.”
The new po‘o kumu have extensive experience in the private school sector, exhibiting exceptional leadership abilities and a strong understanding of the importance of student-driven learning and Hawaiian culture as part of a global mindset.
E ho‘omaika‘i to our new KS Kapālama poʻo kumu:
KS Kapālama Elementary School Po‘o Kumu
Start date: March 1
Deede Santiago currently serves as interim po‘o kumu for KS Kapālama Elementary School. She has dedicating nearly 20 years of her educational career to the school’s littlest learners, first as a math kumu and later as a summer school principal and instructional evaluator.
After graduating from Kamehameha Schools Kapālama, Santiago went on to graduate cum laude from Whitworth University with a BS in elementary education. She also earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
In all of her educational roles, Santiago has enhanced best teaching practices and cultivated high levels of learning. Dedicated to Pauahi’s mission and striving to “live aloha” in all that she does, Santiago’s continued leadership as po‘o kumu will ensure that KS Kapālama Elementary continues to achieve educational excellence.
KS Kapālama Middle School Po‘o Kumu
Start date: March 1
Kula Gaughen-Haʻili currently serves as interim po‘o kumu for KS Kapālama Middle School. He joined the Kapālama campus in 2017 as elementary school vice principal, after serving for five years as interim elementary school principal at KS Maui. Prior to joining KS, he served as vice principal at Olomana School, a Hawai‘i DOE alternative-education school for middle and high school students.
Gaughen-Haʻili began his professional career as a Honolulu police officer, where he developed a passion for working with at-risk youth. That passion propelled him to earn a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Chaminade University. He went on to complete the DOE School Administration Program, paving his path to educational leadership.
As KSK Middle School poʻo kumu, Gaughen-Haʻili will continue to trailblaze unprecedented levels of student achievement.
KS Kapālama High School Poʻo Kumu
Start date: Summer, 2019
Wendy Erskine currently serves as principal of Chicago Bulls College Prep, a public charter high school named after the Chicago Bulls basketball team, which supports the school. Under her leadership, Chicago Bulls College Prep became the top-performing charter school in the state.
After earning a BA in history and international studies from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from National Louis University, Erskine returned to her birthplace O‘ahu, to serve as math kumu and researcher/curriculum developer at University Lab School. She then joined the Teach for America program serving as the Oʻahu regional program director, then as TFA managing director in Chicago.
Erskine is passionate about building relationships with students and staff, and creating educational pathways that are personalized to the needs of each student.
Kamehameha Schools is dedicated to building a world-class Hawaiian culture-based educational system that inspires students creatively and academically, engages the ‘ohana as part of the educational journey, creates innovative partnerships with the community and instills passion in the kumu campus-wide.
As entrusted leaders, the poʻo kumu embrace their roles to support and improve KS Kapālama to create the best educational experience for our haumāna.