Montessori Hale O Keiki gets interim head

Judy Beneventi

Judy Beneventi has been named interim head of school of Montessori Hale O Keiki in South Maui, the private school announced Tuesday.

She replaces Jessica Thompson, who has moved to the Mainland, the school said. Thompson had been at the preschool-to-8th-grade school for eight years, the final six as head of school.

Beneventi is serving in an interim capacity while the school’s board of trustees seeks a permanent head of school. Thompson’s departure in April did not give the board enough time to interview applicants, many of whom are from the Mainland and other countries, Patty Herren, school admissions director, said Tuesday.

The plan is to have Beneventi serve for the upcoming school year, which gets underway Aug. 14, and to bring on the permanent head of school next school year, she said. This will give the board time to thoroughly interview candidates and to select a person “who fits our school’s current strategic goals,” Herren said.

“We are very blessed to have found Judy for several reasons, one she lives on Maui and two she possesses the vision and skills necessary to work with the board of trustees to help MHOK to continue to thrive and mature and to advance the mission and vision for the school and the school community,” she said.

Beneventi, who officially came on board July 1, led the early childhood program at the American School in Japan in Tokyo and had served as assistant principal in the school’s elementary school, the school news release said.

Her resume also includes serving as curriculum coordinator and middle school and elementary teacher at St. Mary’s International School in Tokyo and as a middle school teacher in Lima, Peru, and Helena, Mont., and an elementary teacher in Morwell, Australia.

“I have big slippers to fill and will do my best to provide a smooth leadership transition,” said Beneventi in the news release. “I am looking forward to a wonderful year.”

The head of school at Montessori Hale O Keiki provides operational/educational leadership and manages the school, said Herren. “The head of school’s philosophy must be aligned with the Montessori approach,” she added.

The school has 65 students currently enrolled for the upcoming school year and still has openings in the preschool and kindergarten primary classroom, she said.

Montessori Hale O Keiki is 27 years old and has been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Hawai’i Association of Independent Schools and the American Montessori Society.

* Lee Imada can be reached at