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What Do Teachers Want For the Holidays? Internet Access For Their Students

Cory Lum
Civil Beat

What’s at the top of educators’ holiday wishlist this school year? Reliable internet for their students. HPR spoke with some of Hawaii’s public school teachers about what they need most for their classrooms.

While students have been largely distance learning because of COVID-19, teachers have been hard at work putting together lesson plans and adjusting to the new normal.

For teachers Lory Peroff at Waikiki Elementary and Sarah Milianta-Laffin at Ilima Intermediate in Ewa Beach, bridging the digital divide is high up on their list.

“For my students this year, I wish that they all had good access to reliable internet, so that they could be ready to join our class and join the learning without any hindrances from things that are out of their control,” Peroff said.

“I think this should be at the top of the DOE priority list, getting kids access to reliable internet, and also to quality computers, that can provide a wide range of learning activities for them.”

Laffin echoed Peroff on the need for more accessible internet.

“If COVID has taught us anything, it's that quality internet is essential for students and families,” Laffin said.

“The quality of student learning possibilities shouldn't be limited by their WiFi connections. And the strongest internet in our communities shouldn't be at our local Starbucks; it should be in a free and safe community space.”

Meanwhile, Pearl City High School teacher Daphne Okunaga  is hoping to create more resources for career building at her school.

“We really want to give students an unforgettable experience. One way we thought to do that is to build a legitimate boardroom, where we will be able to hold some of our early college classes, hold our advisory board meeting, hold even some classes like our entrepreneurship class for our seniors,” she said.

“So as they get ready to move on to college or their careers, they'll really know what it feels like to be in that business element.”

Peroff is also seeking help to prepare her classroom for her students who are scheduled to return following the winter break.

“My wish would be to have a little band of elves come into my classroom and help me build physical barriers and and do it in such a way that it's happy and joyful and colorful and inviting,” she said.

“I'm not an architect, I'm not a I'm not a builder. So my wishlist would be to get some help to make it safe and fun. And so the kids can feel happy and welcomed when they return.”

Parents and the community can reach out to their schools to see what’s at the top of their wishlists -- and learn how to make a donation if they can.

Ashley Mizuo
Born and raised on O’ahu, she’s a graduate of ‘Iolani School and has a BA in Journalism and Political Science from Loyola University Chicago and an MA in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
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