Mission & History

The Ka’ohao School Mission, through combined efforts of staff, parents, students, and community, is:

To focus on the whole child by offering an integrated and challenging curriculum that reaches across the disciplines, which includes Physical Wellness, Technology, and an emphasis on The Arts

 To empower students to meet academic challenges with enthusiasm and a willingness to solve real-world problems.

To create an atmosphere of cooperation, with respect for individual differences, the community, and cultural values.

To develop children who are confident and creative builders of their future.


To meet these goals, Ka’ohao School offers its students the following:

AN ENVIRONMENT that is secure and welcoming and that engages children’s interest and celebrates their accomplishments.

A CORE CURRICULUM that exceeds state and national standards, is differentiated according to student abilities and interests, is aligned between grade levels and subject areas, and is inclusive of arts, technology, and physical development.

CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION that is student-centered and responsive to each child’s needs, and that fosters inquiry, exploration, independent thinking, collaborative effort, and productive reflection on one’s own work.

A COMMUNITY in which all participants—children, teachers, staff, parents, and board—are both teachers and learners and are mutually supportive.

TEACHERS, ADMINISTRATORS, AND STAFF who are creative, knowledgeable, focused on the welfare of each child, and appropriately certified.

FACILITIES AND RESOURCES that meet the needs of all students.

From DOE School…
Lanikai Elementary School opened its doors in 1964 as a Department of Education (DOE) school to serve this small seaside neighborhood originally known as Ka’ohao. By the ‘80s, many families were sending their children to private schools, and for a time there was discussion at the Board of Education of closing the school because of declining enrollment. The tide turned, however, when a handful of activist families expressed their willingness to try a public school—as long as they could be part of the governance structure and demand excellence in teaching, in curriculum choices, and in educational philosophy. Their vehicle for change was the DOE’s recent School-Community-Based Management (SCBM) format, but the families found it was still too much a part of the one-size-fits-all DOE system.

…To Conversion Charter School
In 1994, the Lanikai SCBM Council, looking for “transformational leadership,” brought on a visionary principal who understood the potential of charters. Two years later the school applied for and was granted “Student-Centered School Status,” the name the Hawaii Legislature was using for charter schools. In 2000, the school was recognized by the Legislature as one of the state’s first two conversion charters. During this time of change, the Board of Education loosened regulations on geographic exceptions, allowing more students from other communities to apply to our school. Our enrollment began to grow and today exceeds 330 students.

Ka’ohao—and all other charter schools—are public schools directly and individually accountable for compliance with many state and federal laws and programs, and they are governed by their own independent boards.

Curriculum and Assessment Today
Ka’oaho, like all public schools across the country, is accountable for meeting the state and federal regulations in regard to teacher qualifications and adequate yearly progress. Although charter schools may design curricula that support their particular thematic or philosophical approach, all students must take the annual Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) that tests student mastery of the Common Core State Standards. Our curriculum is based on the Hawaii standards and our students have performed exceptionally well on the state assessment.

Our students are privileged to attend five specials throughout the week: art, computer, library, Papa ‘Ike Hawai’i, and physical education. Our students produce award winning art and endless examples of student work that support the classroom curriculum.

For the past several years, Ka’ohao has consistently met the national and state performance requirements and received recognition for excellence in the State of Hawai’i. We have also received national awards for our green programs. These kudos are a testament to the quality of our staff and our high expectations for our students.

Celebrating our Accreditation
It is with pride that Ka’ohao School celebrates our accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges – Accrediting Commission of the States (WASC-ACS). It was not an easy task! This quest started with a request for affiliation with WASC as early as January, 2006, and between then and now the whole staff and a loyal core of parent volunteers have spent countless hours exploring our practice to determine where it measured up, where it fell short, and how we could improve in organization, curriculum, instruction, student services, and use of our resources. The result is a fresh dedication to outstanding professional development for staff, alignment of curriculum across grade levels, and increased expertise in meeting individual student needs through differentiation in instruction. Our initiatives will bring steady growth in student learning and set both students and staff firmly on our vision:

“A Path to Excellence in Learning and Life.”