See For Yourself

Haumāna in kula Hawai‘i look to the past, see in the present, and live for the future. What do you see when you look at hawaiian culture?

Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo is a Hawaiian cultural-based school that conducts all instruction in Hawaiian language and is located in Keaukaha, Hilo, Hawaii Island. It began as a Department of Education Hawaiian Immersion program in 1987 and became a charter school in 2001. Ka ‘Umeke’s place-based educational approach provides learners with opportunities to strengthen their connections to their community and nourishes a sense of belonging. This approach investigates culture, geographical features, resource issues, economic challenges, opportunities, and community governance. Learners become engaged in activities that serve the community. Ka ʻUmeke’s middle and high school academic programs are project-based and utilize Keaukaha’s shoreline environments as laboratories to build 21st century skills including digital literacy, inventive thinking, and interactive communication.

Through a partnership with the Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation, Ka ʻUmeke continues to offer both students and staff innovative teaching and learning opportunities through Papakū Makawalu. Papakū Makawalu is an ancestral Native Hawaiian pedagogy that extracts terms from chants and stories and connects them back to natural phenomena. This process allows today’s Hawaiian to categorize, question, and observe nature through traditional terms and understandings. It also provides students with the skills needed to make connections between different disciplines, develop critical thinking skills, build a holistic understanding of the universe, and construct new knowledge.

With a 14-to-1 student-teacher ratio, Ka ‘Umeke inspires a lifelong joy in learning. Through inquiry strategies and in collaboration with their peers and teachers, students are taught how to ask questions, find answers, consult resources and reflect on their learning, all in Hawaiian. This culturally sensitive philosophy guides curriculum and instruction in all facets of the school.

Ka ‘Umeke’s curriculum integrates the Hawaiian arts, physical education, and general education at all grade levels. Department of Education measurements of materials mastery are utilized, in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, to determine academic progress.

Enrollment in Ka ‘Umeke is free, as it is a public charter school.

“My school teaches me to see for myself.

I used to think I didn’t like school; but now I know school is much more than I thought and the classroom is everywhere…

When I look at the ocean I see math and science.

When I look at the ʻaina I see technology and art.

When I look at our culture I see it all.”