Founded in 1847, Pauoa Elementary School is the third oldest school in the state of Hawaii. Until 1892, all lessons were taught in the Hawaiian Language. Eventually the school was moved to its present location beginning with two classrooms. At Pauoa Elementary, we educate and nurture resilient keiki (children) to sustain and improve the quality of life in the Pauoa community and the larger global society (Pauoa’s purpose statement/vision and mission), where Pauoa’s Ohana (family) constructed a school design based around trust, transparency and grit. Over the past three years, our school community has been on a rigorous journey of school redesign and improvement. Through our ongoing mission of transforming Pauoa Elementary School, we are developing a purposeful community with collective efficacy and capability by engaging individual strengths to achieve teaching and learning goals, tailor programs to improve effectiveness, and embrace the concept of shared leadership. We embrace our message, “Believe to Achieve! Stand up! Be heard! Let’s excel now!” That has been Pauoa’s mantra for the last three years.
Presently, Pauoa remains a small school of 278 students that reflect our quiet and humble character and lifestyle of our community. We are located on the island of Oahu tucked away alongside Punchbowl National Cemetery of the Pacific in the valley called Pauoa just a couple of miles from the hustle and bustle of downtown Honolulu. We are a close-knit community comprised of a diverse group of ethnicities from Pacific Islander (31.56%) to Hispanics (24.47%) and Asians (22.34%).
Pauoa Elementary prides itself on educating the whole child and providing a rigorous education that will prepare our students to be college and career ready. We have designed a unique continuous school improvement system centered on the data team process and practices and actions that have increased our achievement level in areas of reading, math, and science as well as having closed our achievement gap significantly. According to our school results over the past three years that were based on students at the school for the full school year, our reading achievement level increased from 56% to 77%, math achievement increased from 47% to 81%, science achievement increased from 69% to 84%, and the achievement gap was reduced from 32 points for reading and math to 16 for reading and 12 for math. Our five powerful practices and actions are as follows:
- Use of i-Ready program
- Small group instruction during our 45-minute intervention block Monday thru Friday
- Teacher-created action plans to meet schoolwide targets to be revisited twice each quarter
- Daily targeted walkthroughs
- Use of the data team process
Our academic achievement levels rose as we concentrated on the physical, social, and emotional aspects of our students. Pauoa Elementary invested in a full-time Physical Education (PE)/Social Emotional Learning (SEL) teacher so that our students would have a healthy body, mind, and soul every day. PE teaches our students: i) to develop that healthy body and mind resulting from rigorous exercise programs consisting of fun skills and games, and ii) the importance of collaboration and working together to accomplish their goals. The SEL program is addressed through the curriculum, Second Step Program, that allows our students to practice and apply skills to make good life long choices by recognizing different social attributes peers will display and go through such as happiness, anger, sadness, and fear. The program helps emphasize our three core values of Be Responsible, Be Respectful, and Be Safe. We also provide a performing arts program and science curriculum schoolwide. Our performing arts program embeds reading and writing curriculum standards into their yearly plays for each grade level. Our science teacher focuses on implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) schoolwide and works in partnership with each classroom teacher with his/her grade level projects.
Our Friends of Pauoa group works tirelessly in providing school-wide events for our school community. This group is vital in bringing the school community together for the common good of our students, faculty, parents, and community. The Friends of Pauoa group helps organize our school fair, Mele on the Lawn, pumpkin carving, community meetings, camp, and fitness challenge to name some of our main events that bring our community together to unite as one. “Believe to Achieve! Stand up! Be heard! Let’s excel now!” has been our rallying cry over the last 3 years as Pauoa Elementary has become a school of excellence where we all can be proud of our accomplishments. We are this little school that did! That is Pauoa Elementary which made a 21% gain in Reading achievement, a 34% gain in Math achievement and lowered our achievement gap rate from 32 in reading and math to 16 in reading and to 12 in math in three years. We, as a school community, ultimately designed a school-wide process of improvement centered on trust, transparency, and grit. Data teams served as our foundation for school design that enabled teacher collaboration and student voice to shine as we strived to “nurture resilient keiki to sustain and improve the quality of life in the Pauoa community and the larger global society”. This was highlighted by the students’ words to live by: Responsibility, Pride, and Heart.