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Kamehameha Schools was founded by the will of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the great-granddaughter of Kamehameha the Great.

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Kapālama welcomes new Po‘o Kumu

February 25, 2019

Aloha mai kākou,

Finding the right Poʻo Kumu (principal) to lead our campuses has been a top priority. We met with many well-qualified candidates for each of the three positions and gratefully received manaʻo from kumu, staff, students, and parents in open forum sessions for each set of candidates. Their valuable feedback was carefully evaluated and helped to guide the appointment of the final three candidates. Our thorough, methodical nationwide search process has been successful and I am excited to announce the names of those who will be serving here on the Kapālama campus as our new Poʻo Kumu for our High School, Middle School, and Elementary School.

With Kamehameha Schools Kapālama, I am proud to present to you the new Poʻo Kumu:

  • KSK High School Poʻo Kumu – Wendy Erskine: Born and raised on Oʻahu, Poʻo Kumu Erskine began her teaching career at the University Lab School before joining the Teach for America program, serving as the Oʻahu regional director. A graduate of Northwestern University, Poʻo Kumu Erskine later returned to serve as a Teach for America regional director in Chicago before returning to the school environment as Assistant Principal, then Principal of Bulls Prep Academy. Serving a population of over 1,100 students, under Poʻo Kumu Erskine’s leadership and relationship-oriented academic setting, Bulls Prep Academy became the top academic performing charter school in Chicago.
  • KSK Middle School Poʻo Kumu – Kula Gaughen-Haʻili: Poʻo Kumu Gaughen-Haʻili, a Native Hawaiian homesteader, was born and raised on the west side of Oʻahu. Bringing a diverse background to his role as Poʻo Kumu, he began his career in the service industry as a full-time police officer where he developed a passion for working with youth. This propelled him to earn a degree in educational counseling for at-risk youth. Through the DOE's sponsored pathway for administrative leadership, he began in the public charter school system before joining Kamehameha Schools Maui Campus. There he served as the Hope Poʻo Kumu of the Elementary School and later as its Interim Poʻo Kumu. He then served as Hope Poʻo Kumu of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Elementary School prior to him serving as the current Interim Poʻo Kumu of the Middle School. 
  • KSK Elementary School Poʻo Kumu – Deede Santiago: Poʻo Kumu Santiago, a Kamehameha Schools ‘82  alumna, has served as a valuable and passionate leader at Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Elementary School for nearly two decades. Graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Whitworth College she also holds a Master's degree in education from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. Her experience includes providing instruction as a teacher, as well as being a teacher trainer and evaluator in education for over 28 years.  She began at the Kapālama campus as a mathematics teacher and successfully stepped into a diverse array of educational and leadership positions which led to her most recent appointment as Interim Elementary School Poʻo Kumu.

Already a part of our Kamehameha Schools Kapālama ‘ohana, Po‘o Kumu Gaughen-Haʻili and Po‘o Kumu Santiago will assume their respective roles in March of this year while Po‘o Kumu Erskine will assume her position sometime this summer, prior to the start of the 2019-2020 school year. 

I am confident that these leaders will work as a collaborative team helping us to build a unified K-12 campus. Moving forward with these leaders will support the advancement and continued academic growth at our Kapālama campus for our current haumāna and for generations to come.

I would like to express my sincerest mahalo for your continued support and aloha throughout this process.  Each new Po‘o Kumu joins Kamehameha Schools with extensive experience in the private school sectors, exhibiting exceptional leadership abilities and a strong understanding of the importance of student-driven learning and Hawaiian Culture as part of the global mindset.   I have every confidence that together we will build a world-class Hawaiian culture-based education to lift our lāhui!

Me ka ʻoiaʻiʻo,

Dr. Taran Chun, Poʻo Kula