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Pili A Pa‘a is an educational project that was created to address critical deficits in reading, math and science for Native Hawaiian students on the island of Hawai‘i. The project then added a community school component, Piha Me Ka Pono, as it recognized that in order for student to succeed, the social emotional and health needs of the family and community needed to be addressed.

Native Hawaiians represent nearly half of the Kohala Complex school’s student population and are at risk because the curriculum was geared towards Western teaching styles that focused on individual effort and competition. Native Hawaiians, on the other hand, strive for achievement and excellence for the benefit of the group and not individual recognition. This project seeks to build teachers’ knowledge of curriculum, Common Core State Standards, and instructional strategies while integrating Native Hawaiian cultural values and processes.

The project provides teachers a four-week intensive training and collaboration period to enhance their teaching practices. Teachers work with an instructional coach to create units of instruction for their respective content area(s). The coach provides critical feedback and research-based instructional strategies to enhance the curriculum development process.

Through this process, teachers will be able to examine and integrate culturally responsive teaching strategies to increase academic achievement not only for Native Hawaiian students but also for all other student groups found at the school. Collaboration between teachers at all schools is embedded in the project to create professional learning communities within and between the schools.



Piha Me Ka Pono is a new project of Pili A Paʻa. Its purpose is to address the mental health needs of Kohala Complex students. Students already struggling with issues like poverty, food insecurity, and poor physical, emotional or mental health are much more likely to struggle in school than their peers. 

One of the project’s goals is to increase academic achievement of disadvantaged and under-served students through the development of after school enrichment programs that provide positive alternatives for students’ free time.

Piha Me Ka Pono cultivates community partnerships to bring needed academic, health, and social support services for the students and their families.

Recent News

Recent News

Na Makamae: Ross, Pili A Paʻa

October 30, 2019

Ross Pagat has been with our Pili a Paʻa program for 7 years and is known for his work ethic and aloha.

Pili A Paʻa Receives Grant for New Project

May 17, 2019

The donor-advised Nā ʻŌiwi Kāne Fund of the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation has awarded a grant of $18,150 to Hawaiian nonprofit Partners in Development Foundation (PIDF). The Fund aims to empower Native Hawaiians through programs focusing on transferring the traditional Hawaiian way of life to the most vulnerable members of our communities.

New technology for Big Island classrooms

March 7, 2015

SMART Board technology was installed by Pili A Paʻa staff in two of their training classrooms. One of the boards went to Kohala High School and the other went to Holualoa Elementary School.

Teaching With A Different Perspective

June 25, 2014

A first year teacher with Teach for America, Simone teaches 6th grade language arts and Kohala Middle School.