Virtual Interview: Chad Keone Farias, Ka‘ū-Kea‘au-Pāhoa Complex Area Superintendent, Hawai‘i Department of Education
How did you lead through the transition and create a system that allowed students to continue learning?
It’s an honor to represent the Ka‘ū-Kea‘au-Pāhoa (KKP) complex schools during this crisis because of all our incredible leaders that work together as an ‘ohana to care for our keiki and community.
Each day, leaders from across the 15 complex areas collectively seek solutions to challenging situations. Through this constant dialogue, we challenge each other, share our mana‘o and learn together, all while keeping our top priority of the health and safety of our students, employees and community in mind.
Our schools have been distributing computers, creating academic and social-emotional support packets, and feeding our keiki. Daily online check-ins with schools and faculty have become our normal mode of operation. We cherish these meetings, finding creative ways to connect with one another. It’s imperative that we all take care of our own mental and physical welfare because “Ua Ola Loko I ke aloha” (love gives life within).
How have your partnerships with other organizations changed or continued?
The KKP complex is made up of just nine schools but because of the enormous geographical distances between schools and the lack of large chain stores and business centers within our complex, our partners are very diverse and span the entire state.
It is in times of crisis that many of our partners step up behind closed doors and offer support to our keiki. We have received donations of technology and PPE but it is the everyday tasks like feeding our families and reaching out with social and emotional support that make the greatest difference, and for these services, I and the community will forever be grateful. These partnerships have grown to be “He pili wehena ʻole” (a relationship that cannot be undone).
What do you envision for education in your area in the future?
We have students in our complex that live 50 miles or more from the nearest school. Others live in places where there is little to no internet service or cellular connectivity. Our goal as a complex has always been to create a system where everyone can get the education and services they deserve, no matter who they are or where they live.
What we are learning about ourselves and the system we operate in now during this pandemic will change the way we educate our keiki and the way we communicate with our families forever. Imagine what schools could look like when we can finally come together face to face yet still have the ability to reach our most vulnerable students with distance learning strategies. This will require further planning and preparation but will also ensure new levels of success. After all, there is no success without preparation or “ ʻAʻohe ʻulu e loaʻa i ka pōkole o ka lou” (no breadfruit can be reached when the picking stick is too short).
What advice do you have for your local working parents?
As we continue to learn and grow with the new protocols placed upon us, please keep an open mind and heart. Remember all that we have conquered throughout the years with active lava flows, hurricanes and this pandemic, and know that resilience is what makes us a strong community. Our keiki may not remember every lesson provided to them but we know they definitely won’t forget the way we have come together as a community to take care of each other. Now, more than ever we must be the water that allows our flowers to bloom or “Mohala I Ka Wai Ka Maka O Ka Pua.”