By Michael Carlsson
As incoming president of our club, I wondered how we could have an even greater impact on the education of our local keiki (children).
We have been supporting Koloa Elementary School over the years with our Rotary Readers program and dictionary distribution to third graders. We have also provided funds and volunteers for the Growing Our Own Teachers program on our island in order to fill a teacher gap. But I still felt we should be doing more.
Our elementary school in Koloa does a wonderful job but continues to struggle when it comes to resources. Like many teachers across the U.S., the teachers here often reach into their own pockets to purchase classroom supplies. They have to forgo field trips that would get the local keiki out into the community to broaden their horizons. And lack of public funding has prevented the school from providing creative extracurricular activities after school.
We learned of a way to partner financially with Aloha Angels, part of the Hawaii Community Foundation, to make a greater impact. Working through them, we have donated $19,500 to Koloa Elementary School teachers for the year. We are adopting all 20 classes and five after-school clubs. That means that each teacher receives $700 for classroom supplies and a field trip. It also means paying teachers to mentor five after-school clubs each quarter.
We surprised the teachers with the donation at their staff meeting. Their reaction and gratitude were heart-warming. They shared with us some of the ideas they had to get the keiki out into the community and to provide other learning experiences.
Some were so overjoyed, they hugged all the Rotary members present!
We’re looking forward to seeing the creative ways the teachers use this funding, and also to volunteering our time to participate with them.
About the author: Michael Carlsson has been a member of Rotary in Kauai for more than 15 years. He has served in various capacities including treasurer for both the Kauai and Poipu Beach clubs, and as 2015-16 president of the Poipu Beach Club. Carlsson’s professional career includes nearly 30 years of service with Marriott International as Director of Finance for various Marriott properties around the world