Mālama Ola Director Dr. Kenneth Fink oversees the health and well-being of students in Kamehameha’s campus, preschool and summer programs. Mālama Ola (to care for life) is one of five divisions which comprise the KS Education System.
Dr. Kenneth Fink is the director of Mālama Ola, one of five divisions which comprise the Kamehameha Schools Education System under the leadership of Executive Vice President for Education Dr. Holoua Stender.
Mālama Ola became a new department of the KS Education System in July 2015. Mālama Ola has the responsibility for student health, safety and well-being.
“Mālama Ola is working to become world-class regarding student health, safety, and well-being,” shares Fink.
“We are currently at the foundational stage as we make structural changes to support a student-centric approach to well-being in an integrated school system.”
In taking part in naming the group, Fink saw how one word fit what he had hoped his group would be able to accomplish.
“As I reviewed KS’s mission and values, I was immediately drawn to mālama,” says Fink.
“I found it to be a striking and powerful word meaning to care for, to protect. Being responsible for health and safety, this seemed like the perfect name.”
Fink’s purview includes Kamehameha’s three campuses, 30 preschools and summer programs. He now supervises all KS Health Services staff and Education Safety and Risk staff, the latter of which also supports education employee safety. Soon he will also oversee athletic training for all campuses, and plans for his overseeing mental health services are underway.
While the kuleana to look after student health, safety and well-being is Mālama Ola’s, Fink reminds staff members that his department can’t effectively do alone and that health and safety play an important role in student well-being and success.
“Everyone shares responsibility for improving student well-being,” said Fink.
“In applying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-actualization and self-transcendence could be viewed as analogous to educational success and contributing to a thriving Lāhui. In his model, physiological and safety are the first two needs; similarly, health and safety are two of the five Whole Child Tenets.
“The commonality is that health and safety are necessary for success, and by maximizing student well-being, the educational opportunity provided by Kamehameha Schools can be optimized.”
For Fink, the vision that Ke Aliʻi Bernice Pauahi Bishop has shown is an inspiration.
“She envisioned using education to improve the well-being of an entire community and had the foresight for this important work to be continued in perpetuity,” says Fink.
“Her desired outcome of good and industrious Hawaiians is extraordinarily eloquent in its simplicity and clarity yet balanced with its depth and transcendency.”
Fink is also quick to share how impressed he is by the staff’s dedication to the mission, caring about the students, and embracing of change and the challenge to become world-class.
The focus now is on being healthy to learn. In the future, Fink hopes to support learning to be healthy. Improving student well-being has been shown to improve educational outcomes.
As Mālama Ola continues to build on its foundation, Fink can rely on two personal mottos he often tells his kids.
“If you want to go fast, you have to go slow,” says Fink.
“And if you’re not making any mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough.”