The stories of three alaka‘i wahine (Native Hawaiian women leaders) who are involved with cultural and linguistic early education environments that promote family and child interaction are featured here. Through interviews and interactions their stories and work are highlighted for stakeholders to glean from lessons they have learned. This work is framed through the lens of (re)imagining educational systems for Native Hawaiian children to experience education that is congruent with their heritage, their family, and their cultural ways of being. Contextualizing the experiences and wisdom of these island leaders’ voices, this weaving of stories highlights the significance of native ideas in pedagogy, relationship building, multi-generational contexts, and relevant educational structures within early childhood settings which may be recognized by many Indigenous communities.

Author Biography

Charis-Ann Sole

Charis-Ann Sole, a part Native Hawaiian, has been an early childhood educator in O‘ahu, Hawai‘i for the past 17 years. She holds an MS in Child Development from Erikson Institute and an MEd in Early Childhood Education from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Her interests center on re-imagining education systems for Indigenous students, partnering with communities, connecting students to their kupuna, as well discovering her own connection to her people that came before.

M. Nālani Mattox-Primacio

M. Nālani Mattox-Primacio, a Native Hawaiian, has 35 years of experience managing, developing, and administering grants for Native Hawaiian-serving early childhood programs. Nālani was a special projects manager at a Native Hawaiian family learning center across three islands and also held multiple management and training positions in Indigenous accreditation (WINHEC), home-visiting, preschool, and family and child interaction learning (FCIL) programs in Hawaii. She is an alumnus of and adjunct faculty member of the University of Hawai‘i system in Honolulu, O‘ahu Island.

Shin Ae Han

Shin Ae Han is an assistant professor and cohort coordinator in the School of Teacher Education at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Her work is centered on early childhood education with a focus on program development and implementation of culturally responsive/sustaining pedagogy, project-based learning, and place-based education. She actively collaborates with local communities and schools in Hawai’i on various early childhood projects and teacher preparation programs.



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