Pomaika'i Elementary School @ Waihe'e
by Melinda Caroll, Youth Education Coordinator
Pomaika’i Elementary School is an integrated Arts Schools that brings an added edge to learning and education as a whole. How they do that is by providing ongoing training and experiential learning opportunities for the teachers. Creativity is the fertile ground for new experiences, along with cultured curiosity, imagination, scientific observation and constant questioning. In other words, arts integration teaching and learning principles can be extremely fun for all who participate.
For example, what does a soundscape orchestra have to do with a compost pile? Well for one thing, if you really think about it, there’s a lot going in that compost pile. Decay, fermentation, fertility, bugs who gnaw and chew, worms that digest and move, heat and the general transformation of rotting vegetable matter into soil, to name just a few of the processes. Now use your imagination and create a sound that each process might make and now amplify it, and there you have a soundscape orchestra to give you a real sense of the complexities of the soil!
Pomaika’i Elementary School likes to provide their teachers with a sense of place and orientation to help them feel inspired for the coming school year. On August 2nd they held a teacher training and retreat to Waihe’e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge to provide extra special materials and experiences for their staff. It was an adventure in learning and sharing new encounters through the Land and through Art!
Hands on soil experiments, hikes and storytelling as told by our expert cultural and natural history guide, Scott Fisher, plus creating soundscape orchestras that represented the centuries and decades of time as experienced through wind, rain and sand, made this day unforgettable and rich with connection to one of the most significant, culturally rich sites in the state of Hawai’i. Quiet and pristine, the land and shoreline and reefs are a refuge for many indigenous plant and animal species and a successful eco-restoration project in progress.
Pomaika’i School and Hawaiian Island Land Trust, who are restoring and preserving the land in perpetuity, have partnered to share this place with the local children and students. As teachers, we spent the day going back in time, experiencing our ancient connection to the land and sea. This is the take-away for each person who comes here and for us to share with everyone we can. This generous refuge is not just for the plants and animals but also for us to remember the people who walked and lived here before us. As we sang and chanted our departure, we remembered we are here to assure this place in time continues and to preserve it, to make a difference in the lives of those to come!