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Ke Ala e Hoʻokele ai i ke Kuapapa Nui | A Proposal to Redesign Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi Campus Christian Education

Updated: Jan 25

By Kahu Kaunaloa Boshard

Kahu Boshard gives us a compelling rationale for a Spiritual, Social, and Emotional Learning (SSEL) curriculum that seamlessly combines Christian Education and SEL tenets. 

A Proposal to Our Kauhale

The purpose of this research proposal was to provide evidence for explicitly integrating Spiritual, Social, and Emotional Learning (SSEL) goals in student instruction as curricula reflective of the kūpono character of Jesus Christ. SSEL embraces cultural practices that develop students’ positive attitudes, mental health, and resiliency strategies during their character maturation process of being kūpono. As the Chaplain, or Kahu, of Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi (KSH), I oversee Christian Education (CE) instructional programming grades K-12. After Kumu Shonnie Calina published her Alaukawai 0012 research, Ke Ala ʻOiaʻiʻo? Finding a Way to the Path, in E Ulu Vol. 1 (Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi, 2022), I was inspired to offer additional evidence for a robust CE curriculum aligned with our Social Emotional Learning educational programming. This write-up is a portion of the overall proposal that I developed and submitted to our campus administration.

Hoʻolauna: A Reflection on the Why

I ʻole ke aʻo ʻia mai, hele hewa nā kānaka; a ʻo ka mea mālama i ke kānāwai, pōmaikaʻi ʻo ia. (Ka Baibala Hemolele, 2018, Na Solomona. 29:18)

At KSH, our campus identity, ʻŌiwi Edge, is to reclaim and collectively advance a narrative of Native Hawaiians thriving. ʻŌiwi Edge is defined as possessing a strong ancestral foundation that facilitates the design and increase of one’s agency, adaptability, and well-being to gain a competitive advantage beyond our campus. Our kauhale creates a learning environment that promotes kūpono and paʻahana among our keiki K-12 ʻohana, Kumu, and surrounding community. This manaʻo nui ʻŌiwi encourages and guides nā alakaʻi, nā Kumu, nā limahana, a me nā haumāna to move forward with faith, hope, and love. These restorative milestones are the reason we as alakaʻi lawelawe continue to strive for excellence in delivering an adaptive education program with compassion and integrity for keiki whom we place at the center.

Ka Moʻo Baibala Hemolele: Virtues, Values, Building Character

The campus theme of Kuapapa Nui was first introduced to the ʻAha Naele leadership group about two years ago. Upon hearing the term, I searched the Baibala Hemolele to understand its meaning. The word “kuapapa nui” translated from the Old Testament Hebrew text is used to describe peacefulness and confidence, which reflect provisions of wellness from Iēhowa. The gospel story of Christ Jesus is focused on faith (trust), hope (confidence), and love (mercy and compassion). These are the virtues that Jesus portrays to set a new standard of leadership principles.

By sharing stories of people or moʻolelo of meʻe nui, or heroes, from the Baibala Hemolele, we hear God’s voice. Through its lessons, moʻolelo, and scripture, Kumu, Kahu, makua, and kūpuna serve as guides that promote agency, encourage adaptive reflexes, and give a quiet confidence and hope that all will be well each day. These are building blocks that benefit haumāna’s sense of well-being, identity, culture, and language; critical ingredients to develop one’s character. 

These character-building Bible stories can influence individual choices. For example, the story of Joseph gives hope of reconciliation whenever there is family dissension. The story of Moses offers optimism whenever there are tragic circumstances. The story of David relates hopefulness should temptation get the best of one. The story of Job demonstrates confidence that even during a natural catastrophe when all is lost, restoration is coming, left in God’s hands. The story of Judas Iscariot reinforced that not everyone can be trusted, there are appropriate times to let go of people whom you thought were friends. Lastly, the story of Jesus, whose love, understanding, forgiveness, healing, and ultimate sacrifice motivates us to be compassionate.

Ka Moʻo Olakino o ke Kula ‘o Kamehameha Hawaiʻi: Significance of an ʻŌiwi Edge Christian Education

Teaching students the meaning of being “Christlike” is our overarching mission and vision as noted by: Within a generation of twenty-five years, we see a thriving lāhui where our learners achieve postsecondary educational success, enabling good life and career choices. We also envision that our learners will be grounded in Christian and Hawaiian values and will be leaders who contribute to their communities, both locally and globally. To truly fulfill these words at Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi, we need to make strategic changes in our approach to Christian Education. 

Engaging an ʻAe Kai to Kahiki Lens: Research and Resources

The concept of an intentionally designed integrated ʻŌiwi Edge CE and SEL curriculum is validated by several works ranging from dissertations to briefing papers, empirical investigations to concept papers. This sub-section provides a short description of some of the works consulted to inform this proposal. For example, Koenig (2012) provides a concise and comprehensive review of the literature on religion and spirituality (R/S) alongside mental and physical health outcomes. He offered a model of how R/S might influence physical health.

McMaster’s (2013) case study explored the influence of Christian education on leadership development. His findings affirmed the importance of educational experience equating to life experience, particularly related to a student’s moral and ethical development as a precursor to leadership development. Looking at Kaholokula’s (2014, 2018) works, we see the importance of culturally responsive approaches as well as issues of social justice impacting Kānaka Maoli health and well-being. The briefing paper, The ‘F-Word” of Social and Emotional Learning: Faith, staunchly declared, 

“At its core, social and emotional development embodies a spiritual competence-regardless of one’s religious faith—and that must be acknowledged and intentionally nurtured if SEL advocates, philanthropists, school leaders, and parents ever hope to actualize wide-scale improvements to students’ cognitive health” (Anderson-Rhames, 2019, p. 2). 

Alignment of Christian Education Within our Campus Multi-Tiered Multi-Domain System of Supports (MTMDSS)

We are at a pivotal point as a campus to intentionally restructure Christian Education given the following kula ecosystem initiatives:

  • K-12 implementation of a Multi-Tiered Multi-Domain System of Supports (MTMDSS)

  • K-12 scaling of the ʻŌiwi Edge Learning & Teaching Expectations (ʻŌEL&T Expectations)

  • K-12 ʻŌiwi Edge Kumu Competencies rollout

  • Kula-wide redesign efforts

  • Purposefully re-engineered curriculum, specifically focused on Instructional Core: Learner Support

  • New positions and responsibilities across the kula (ie. Learning and Teaching Specialists; ʻŌiwi Edge Architects; Mobilizers) 

Furthermore, ‘Aha Naele leadership group and our campus are primed to scale CE in the MTMDSS as noted by, “Over the course of the next five years, we will continue to build a system aligned to our mission of an ʻŌiwi Edge for E Ola! School. Our aim is to create the conditions for equitable student success to realize individual and collective Kuapapa Nui” (ʻŌiwi Edge Ecosystem Multi-year Plan, 2023, p. 3). 

Kuanaʻike Mindsets—Supporting Student SSEL

Kuanaʻike Mindsets foster resiliency that forms a strong posture of moral goodness and servant leadership founded in a loving and intimate relationship with Ke Akua and with each other. Table 1 illustrates alignment of the Mindsets with core components of SSEL and overall. This may be used as a template for a robust CE and SEL curriculum.

Table 1

Alignment of Kuanaʻike Mindsets with SSEL

Kuanaʻike Mindsets

Hōʻike a ʻIke

Hoʻomana a Mana

Hoʻoponopono a Pono

Hoʻoili a Ili

Spiritual Learning

ʻIke Kūpuna: This intimate relationship with Ke Akua is commonly passed down by mākua and is meant to be fostered both personally and publicly. 

Hoʻomana: The supernatural or divine miraculous power – Pukui and Elbert, Hawaiian Dictionary (1986, p.235).

Kūpono: Having an honorable character based on the core values of Iesū Kristo. This is the “what” of SSEL.

E Alakaʻi: Spiritual learning are cultural practices that need to be passed on. 

Social Learning

ʻIke Kūpuna: Social learning begins within the family and if the family has formed roots in faith this becomes their cultural lifestyle. Families who are not faith-based still pass on their set of social skills. 

Hoʻomana: The Kamehameha Schools envisions that our learners be grounded in Christian and Hawaiian values. Faith-based education is designed to link core values to support goal setting, developing healthy relationships, good decision-making, and expressing empathy. Rhames, M. (2019) American Enterprise Institute.  

Kūpono: Thus, the goal of producing a family with children having honorable character is integral to the family’s social learning for each person. This is the “what” of SSEL.

E Alakaʻi: Social learning that begins in the family gets shared throughout the family system. 

Emotional Learning

ʻIke Kūpuna: Like social learning, emotional learning begins within the family nurturing process. The family of faith is directed to how Jesus dealt with relationships, emotional issues, and well-being.


Hoʻomana: The Kamehameha Schools envisions that our learners be grounded in Christian and Hawaiian values. Faith-based education is designed to link core values to support goal setting, developing healthy relationships, good decision-making, and expressing empathy.   

Kūpono: The management of one’s character is essential to forming good habits of mind. Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management, and responsible decision-making are crucial skills to develop. This is the “what” of SSEL.

E Alakaʻi: Social learning and emotional learning begins in the family and gets shared throughout the family system.


ʻIke Kūpuna: The social learning processes that exist within a family are complex. Interactions within the family influence behavior.


Hoʻomana: SSEL demands spiritual competence regardless of one’s religious beliefs. Rhames, M. (2019) American Enterprise Institute.

Kūpono: Whereby SSEL is the “why,” character education is the “what” of the SSEL.

E Alakaʻi: Spiritual, social, and emotional learning is perpetuated within the family with aloha and mālama. 

Leading from ʻAe Kai to Kahiki: Implications, Suggestions

As the Kahu, or Chaplain, I have witnessed the Spiritual relationships of our Kauhale support haumāna in a holistic manner. By administering faith-based practices such as prayer, praise, Bible study/reflection, and fellowship, we contribute to strengthening a child’s identity while developing their confidence to successfully maʻa i ka hele i kauhale. Through a focused effort to position resources toward a comprehensive evidence-based ʻŌiwi Edge CE and SEL within our MTMDS System, we not only place haumāna at the center, but create a streamlined kauhale designed to elevate E Ola!.


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