Photo: Ke Kula ‘O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u Cohort
Cohort from Ke Kula ‘O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u (2017). – Photo: Courtesy Ke Kula ‘O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u

Ke Kula ‘O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u immersion school has been awarded the National Indian Education Association’s William Demmert Freedom Fighter award.

The National Indian Education Association (NIEA) selected the Keaʻau public charter school for the prestigious award because of its work in Hawaiian medium-immersion education in Hawai‘i. Nāwahī is a K-12 Hawaiian language laboratory of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, run by Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.

Ke Kula ‘O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u will be awarded the William Demmert Freedom Fighter award in October 2018 in Hartford, Conn. The award is an NIEA board-nominated award that recognizes an organization for its success and the positive impact it has on native student academic achievement.


Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a

Photo: Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a“From humble beginnings and through the tenacious commitment of its leadership, teachers and families, Ke Kula ‘O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u has been a trailblazer in the advancement of Hawaiian medium education,” says Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a, director of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. “William Demmert was a strong advocate of language revitalization programs, which makes this prestigious recognition a special honor.”

Ke Kula ‘O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u is a laboratory school of UH Hilo and an extension of the Pünana Leo language preschools, contributing to the P-20 mauli ola education system. Established in 1999, the school is located in Kea‘au, Hawai‘i Island, and operates as both a charter and state school within a single K-12 campus.

Kauanoe Kamana

Photo: Kauanoe Kamana“Nāwahī is a model for indigenous language and academic success with over 85 percent of its students continuing on to higher education,” explains Kauanoe Kamanā, faculty at Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani and director of Ke Kula ‘O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u. “Nāwahī is designed for families, teachers and staff who have chosen to speak Hawaiian as the first and main language of the home, and also for those who are in the process of establishing Hawaiian as the dominant language of the home. Academics and global learning are developed and applied through economic, social and cultural interaction with the broader world.”