We Welcome Students, Families and Community To

Hawai'i's First Public Conversion Charter School (Act 2/2002)

Our Past 100 Years

While there was a school for the children of Waimea as far back as the mid-1800s, Waimea School as we know it today began in 1916 for students in grades K-12.  Today there are two schools side-by-side: Waimea Elementary (PK-5) and Waimea Middle (6-8).  The schools celebrated their centennial in 2016.    

In 2003, Waimea Middle School became Hawai’i’s first Public Conversion Charter School under a new law passed by the State Legislature.  The intention was to secure greater local control over curriculum and resources through active collaboration internally and with the State Department of Education (DOE) and many more community partners. This new law created the not-for-profit Ho’okako’o Corporation, which serves as our Local School Board and works in partnership with the Board of Education and the Hawai’i Public Charter School Commission. 

Our Present

WMS is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) through 2020.  Also, during 2017, WMS was approved for a new Three-Year Charter Contract by the Hawai’i Public Charter School Commission through June 30, 2020.  Together, these require stringent academic, organizational and financial accountability and a continuous commitment to improvement.  

Keaoākea STEAM Learning Center

In 2004, our community began to dream about “real” science labs and improved technology to better prepare students for the 21st century world and workplace.  We worked with our legislators, DOE and community to secure planning-design funds in 2007 and construction funds in 2013 and 2014, totaling $15.89 million.  We formally dedicated and opened this new learning center on Jan. 8, 2018.  This is the first major facilities improvement for Waimea public school children in 30 years!

Our new STEAM (Science - Technology - Engineering - Arts/’Aina - Math) Learning Center includes a Makerspace, Demonstration Lab, Broadcast Studio, science laboratories and general classrooms.  There is also an outdoor amphitheater for more integrated learning experiences with the adjacent Mala’ai School Garden. Our vision is that this new building will become a hub of STEAM teaching and learning for the entire community, supporting professional development for teachers from across the island and capitalizing on innovative technology and the cultural expertise of the region to inspire students to pursue 21st century careers.

We are deeply grateful to all of our public policy leaders for funding this new learning center on behalf of the taxpayers of Hawai’i.  We thank our teachers and staff for their dedication to providing meaningful place-, project- and culture-based STEAM teaching and learning.  And we thank our students for naming the building: Keaoākea (Expansive Knowledge)

But there's more to know...

Our Future:  Launching Our Public School Children into the 21st Century World & Workplace! 

Waimea is a community of great beauty, resources and rich cultural heritage.  But there exists a huge economic and technology gap. This is the “story” of Waimea Middle School:  With 250 6th-8th grade students, nearly 70% of our families struggle with poverty.  Also, 55% are native Hawaiian; 11% have special education services; 22% qualify for Migrant Education and 4% are English Language Learners.

Inspired by this great need for academic supports and progress, our teachers and staff are risk-takers: As mentioned previously, they voted to became a public conversion charter school in 2003 to gain more control over curriculum, supports and resources to better serve students.  This has resulted in progress on state academic assessments.  However, our children still struggle.  Only 46% were proficient in reading in spring 2017 and 29% were proficient in math.  Further, the gap is even more pronounced when comparing high needs students (economically disadvantaged, ELL and special education) to non-high needs students. 

Also, we have experienced a decline in attendance.  In 2014-15, our average daily attendance was 94% so there was a small percentage of chronic absenteeism.  Our current rate of chronic absenteeism is 28%. 

Clearly, we must better address student needs and engagement to boost academic achievement and we are working to do this by revising curriculum, instruction and assessment and investing in professional development.  The “centerpiece” of this effort revolves around our new Keaoākea STEAM Learning Center.  

Why is Keaoākea so significant?  Middle school is the crucial time to instill higher level thinking and deeper content knowledge so that students can be successful in high school and beyond. We view the STEAM Learning Center as our “bridge” to better engaging students and improving academic outcomes.  But ironically, this new building has very little new 21st century technology.

We ask the community’s help.  

And some meaningful help has come forward:  We are extremely grateful that our State legislators secured a $298,000 Grant In Aid for STEAM technology and training during the 2018 session.  We are now working to secure release these funds.  We also are asking other funders and foundations, and we have already raised more than $200,000, including support from Kamehameha Schools.  But we need about $1 million over the next 2+ years to significantly  improve outcomes for Waimea children. 

There are many ways to contribute.  These range from donating funds for specific technology or equipment, supporting our tech team with deployment of technology and training for teachers and/or students, “adopting” a classroom or the Makerspace, Demonstration Lab or Broadcast Studio, supporting project-based learning activities or STEAM-related professional development for teachers.  We also could use outdoor learning space structures and equipment.  

We welcome your help -- the students of Waimea Middle School need and deserve it.  

If you would like to know more or to tour campus including the new Keaoākea STEAM Learning Center, please call Patti Cook (808-937-2833) or email Patti_Cook@wmpccs.org.