The Good News In Public Schools

Sean Doi cannot help but notice the bleak news that originates from the state public school system.

“A lot of what the community knows about is negative,” says the Complex Area resource teacher at the Department of Education.

Bullying, drug problems and low test scores are some of the issues that are pronounced.

However, Doi knows there are positive things happening too.

“There are some great things going on at the schools, but no one knows about them,” he says.

So, to share what he deems as more newsworthy, Doi set out to produce the new Shining Stars in Education television show to highlight inspirational happenings at the schools.

“I like to share good news; I’m a positive kind of guy,” he says.

The first 30-minute show aired Nov. 4. The episode, which played on Hoike Channel 54, spotlighted Kapa’a High School’s Peer Mediation Program, Wilcox Elementary School’s Student Media Program and King Kaumuali’i Elementary School’s Aloha Peace Program.

“Through their words they are able to articulate about whatever they are doing,” says Doi.

Kapa’a High School shared with the community the way teens take on a leadership role by serving as mediators for fellow students.

“They do a wonderful job,” says Doi.

Wilcox Elementary School students from the media program conducted and filmed their own political candidate interviews with government officials, such as County Councilwoman Nadine Nakamura.

“You could tell the students were fully engaged, learning important digital media skills, but also learning about the government and about important issues confronting Kaua’i,” says Nakamura, who is excited about the DOE’s efforts to highlight programs such as this one.

“We mostly hear negative things about public education in our community,” she says. “Yes, we still have a lot of challenges, but here’s a tool to highlight some of the outstanding teachers and their students on Kaua’i.”

And finally, for the inaugural episode, King Kaumuali’i Elementary School featured its anti-bullying efforts. The students are responsible for promoting peace and encourage peers to act in more appropriate ways.

“They’re one of the top schools in implementing that program,” says Doi of the Aloha Peace Program.

Doi plans to produce a different show once a month. During the monthly episodes, which are funded by the DOE, students and faculty from three to four different schools will have the opportunity to share information about their various projects, people and activities, each captured in approximately seven-minute clips.

“It kind of whets your appetite,” he says.

By keeping the format of the show simple, Doi hopes that it will capture the community’s attention and possibly even call residents to further action by encouraging them to become involved.

“Because of our island community, we’re all connected in some way or the other with our schools,” he says.

The first episode has already influenced another school looking to implement the peer mediation program.

“That wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the show,” says Doi, who is part of the three-member team that produces, films and edits each episode. “Those are the kinds of things that are really cool.”

As producer, Doi is responsible for finding stories to tell from all public schools (K-12) around the island.

“First and foremost, we want to showcase programs or events or people who are doing good things for the school, specifically to get the kids college and career ready. That’s the big driving force now,” he says. “I let the stories come to me.”

The idea to produce a show has been brewing in Doi’s head for quite some time. The Kaua’i High School graduate comes from a family of educators and has worked within the DOE for many years, serving in his current role for seven. Having been in the field assisting schools with meeting goals as related to curriculum such as enhancing literacy, Doi heard countless numbers of impressive stories that he felt needed to be shared.

“Inherent in all of us as human beings, we like to receive praise when we work hard,” he says. “It motivates us to do more.”

Informing the community and helping everyone feel better about the school system have been exceptionally rewarding for Doi, particularly when he hears someone say, “It’s about time.”

“They learn so much in that half hour, and they feel good. They just have this good feeling that the youths of today are doing great things. It comforts them,” he says. “When I hear those positive comments from community members, I know this is the right thing.”

The second Shining Stars in Education program aired earlier this month and featured Waimea High, Kalaheo Elementary and Kaua’i High schools. All shows air Sundays at 8 p.m., Mondays at 5 p.m. and Thursdays at 10 a.m. on Channel 54, as well as online at auaishiningstars.