Once-struggling campus makes educational U-turn

By Susan Essoyan

May 22, 2011

Lydia Trinidad, principal of Kualapuu School on Molokai, is surrounded by some of her students in the cafeteria. Kualapuu School was converted into a charter school several years ago. It had been a low-performing school in “restructuring”

KUALAPUU, Molokai » A Molokai native with a magnetic smile and a bold spirit, Principal Lydia Trinidad hasn’t been afraid to lead her alma mater, Kualapuu School, onto new terrain, with dramatic results.

“Lydia doesn’t let the unexplored scare her — she’s smart about being daring,” said parent Kalae Tangonan, an orange hibiscus tucked in her hair. “She’s definitely innovative, always open to new ideas.”

The first big leap for this elementary school in the heart of Molokai was to switch to charter status in the summer of 2004, an effort to marshal the resources and flexibility needed to lift the performance of its economically disadvantaged population. Since then it has managed to steadily boost test scores, lengthen the school day by an hour and enrich the curriculum with an array of electives including daily PE. It even added a preschool.

“I love this school,” said Tangonan, who has three children at Kualapuu, her youngest in the preschool class. “They give us the ability to send our kids to Hawaiian immersion or English. That in itself is a gift. I like the fact that we are a conversion charter so we can chart our own course.”

Contributed by Staradvertiser and Staff Susan Essoyan and Dennis Oda.  For more information about this article, please visit StarAdvertiser, CLICK HERE