Teachers learn to communicate through dance

The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Teachers from the state Department of Education King Kekaulike Complex schools use dance and movement to convey the meanings of Hawaiian verses after reading them aloud Friday morning in the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Omori Dance Studio. About 300 elementary, intermediate and high school teachers from Upcountry schools participated in the Waiver Day professional development sessions exploring ways to integrate arts and Hawaiian culture into the school curriculum. “We’re learning to find culturally relative ways to connect with our students and engage with them in the classroom,” said King Kekaulike 10th-grade English teacher Matt Cerny (right). “You need motion, visual arts and music, among others, like summersaults.” This year, the Kekaulike Complex is scheduled to roll out the Na Hopena A’o Department of Education standards, which are grounded in social-emotional learning and cultivation of a Hawaii identity for Hawaii students. This is a new statewide initiative for Hawaii public schools, and the Kekaulike Complex is the first in the state to introduce the program into its pedagogical development for classroom teachers.