Students, Teacher Cadets Learn Lessons From Each Other

Carol Chang
Wednesday - April 07, 2010
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It may have been just a practice session for future educators, but to social studies teacher Ann Wong, who advises two Waipahu High School clubs, the morning adventure was so much more than that.

Wong took about 30 teens to Waipahu Elementary March 3 when half of them (from the teacher cadets club) presented lessons to three classes in all grades, and the other half (from the Micronesian club) provided bilingual support. The teens met in Shelly Tanaka’s ESLL (English for Second Language Learners) classrooms, which have the school’s lowest level of English proficiency.

“We are teaching high school kids to give back, plus it’s hard to find interpreters,” Wong explained. She also saw the event as a way to squash the negative stereotypes that her immigrant students encounter. “We want to show the positive side.” Apparently, it worked. “The WES teachers said their kids loved our visit.”


The good vibes go both ways, she added, noting how role models emerge.“To see at-risk boys being tutors and the gratitude of the kids - it just melted my heart,” Wong recalled.

Waipahu has a large population of families from Micronesia, which is a scattered archipelago 2,500 miles from Hawaii. They bring the diverse languages and customs of the Marshallese, Palauans, Chuukese, Yapese, Pohnpeians and Kosraeans. Under a free-association compact, they’re allowed to travel, work and live in the U.S. without visas. Nearly half of them in Hawaii, however, live below the poverty line.

Another challenge is that half of Waipahu Elementary students are enrolled in the school’s ESLL program - which may be a key reason why these visits succeed.

Lessons learned by the teacher cadets themselves?

Darren Sibok: “I enjoyed how the kids were excited and happy to learn. The experience taught me to give back to the community.”

Jerald Miyashiro: “The joy of the children was worth the experience. Giving these children a chance to enjoy education was great.” Analiz Panida: “I enjoyed watching the students’ faces light up when they got to learn something new.”

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