In fall 2008, Montessori Hale O Keiki (MHOK) added the first middle school program to its established, accredited primary and elementary programs. During its inaugural year, the middle school piloted an inquiry based oceanic sciences program, where students were scuba dive certified enabling them to conduct underwater research. As a result of the pilot, MHOK established partnerships with the National Marine Sanctuary Education Center (among others), and with a privately owned ocean recreation activity company specializing in dive training. Using the pilot program as a launching pad, MHOK became the recipient of the coveted “Schools of the Future” grant initiative in 2009, sponsored by the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools (HAIS) and Hawaii Community Foundation (HCF) and were awarded up to $250,000 over a five year period. To this day, MHOK has a naturalist on staff and a marine & environmental curriculum is integrated into all levels of curriculum to support the program’s goals.
MHOK’s Marine and Environmental Stewardship program is a public/private partnership that reflects a broad community investment in progressive education. It aligns preservation of the natural ocean resources of South Maui with the technical capacity anchored at the Maui Research & Technology Park. This program places our students at the intersection of both and frames our school’s sense of place; and instills both the values of cultural and environmental stewardship, with hands-on, student-centered research and critical skill development needed for success in 21st Century careers.