WAIMEA — Waimea Middle School (WMS) will begin its 16th year as a public conversion charter school on Aug. 7 with a new principal: Miss Janice English.
A seasoned educator, English is, in fact, returning to WMS where she served as an instructional coach and then vice principal from 2013 to 2016.
Before coming to WMS, she had 20 years’ experience teaching middle school science and math, provided therapeutic and academic instruction for elementary special education students and served as a student counselor. In the year since leaving WMS, she worked at Parker School as a teacher, creating inquiry-based lessons for science, and taught math and character education for an eighth grade advisory.
English has a BS in biology from Long Island University, a masters degree in educational psychology from University of Arizona, teaching credentials from Ottawa University and educational leadership credentials from the University of Arizona.
She was offered the principal position after an extensive educational leadership search conducted by the school’s not-for-profit local school board, Ho’okako’o Corporation (HC). The search process involved all of the WMS faculty, staff, families, Local Advisory Panel (LAP), and community members were invited to participate in meet-the-candidate interviews.
At the start of the recruiting process, HC’s Board Chair Joe Uno, board member Dr. Paul Nakayama and Executive Director David Gibson met with WMS faculty, staff and Local Advisory Panel (LAP) to discuss school strengths, vision, challenges and priorities moving forward. Priorities included academic growth for all coupled with “whole child” middle school best practices and a continuing commitment to the school’s IKAIR core values.
Other school-wide priorities are incorporating 21st century STEAM teaching and project-based learning into the school’s new $15 million 9-classroom Keaoakea STEAM Learning Center, and growing community partnerships and student mentoring.
“I am honored to have been asked to rejoin the school as principal,” English said. “I have much aloha for the teachers and staff and am very aware of the good, caring work they are doing. I also have come to love Waimea. There are so many exciting things happening at the school and in this community.
“Being a public conversion charter school has its challenges, but it gives us more flexibility to do what’ best for our students — to meet their needs and help them realize their dreams and aspirations,” she added. “Middle school is a time of tremendous growth and change for students and this is magnified today by lightening-speed changes in technology and a rapidly evolving world and workplace.”
In preparation for her new position, English said, “We are talking with teachers, staff, LAP and families about this being a year of ‘refinement’ — and about working collaboratively to enhance programs already in place. We are excited about the success of eighth-grade student presentations of learning last year called Family Ho’ike, which drew more than 90 percent of our eighth-grade families, and want to expand these to sixth and seventh grades.”
New curriculum will also be adopted, including Next Generation Science Standards, and closer ties with community partners such as Malaai school garden, Kahilu Theatre, 21st Century Community Learning Centers and major funders including Kamehameha Schools and the Neilan Foundation.
“WMS recently received notice that we have been approved for a Career Connected Learning grant from Hawaii Community Foundation, and we are also excited that the 2018 State Legislature authorized a $295,000 Grant In Aid to support STEAM technology for our students,” English said. “We really needed this to more fully outfit our new STEAM Learning Center.”