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Kailua High resource center is a 'one-stop shop' for family and student needs

Family Resource Center Kailua High School 2022.jpeg
Casey Harlow
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HPR
Kailua High School's Family Resource Center opened in April 2021. The center offers digital literacy courses for parents, and financial literacy courses for students.

There's a room at Kailua High School where families and students can get help, and learn how to navigate today's education system.

"We have financial literacy for the students after school," said Diana Baldwin, Kailua High's Parent Community Network Coordinator. She also oversees the school's Family Resource Center. "We also have the digital literacy for the parents and the kūpuna during the day."

The center not only provides these courses to families, but it also helps parents navigate the Department of Education's Infinite Campus. This is a digital platform allowing parents to monitor their child's attendance, grades, and sometimes assignments.

"But also at the beginning of the year, we had sessions for free and reduced lunch help," said Baldwin.

The Family Resource Center opened its doors in April 2021. But the idea began when Stacey Oshio became the school's principal two years ago.

"I wanted Kailua High to be part of the community. Like this should be a community hub of sorts," said Oshio.

At first, Oshio said she wanted to help parents access and navigate the school's digital resource, such as Google Classroom and the state department of education's Infinite Campus.

"We often forget that some parents don't have some of those skills. Some of them don't even have computers," she said.

Diana Baldwin Stacey Oshio.jpeg
Casey Harlow / HPR
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Diana Baldwin (left) and Principal Stacey Oshio (right)

"So we talked about, even if it's just a room with computers that's manned by somebody . . . So we have a place for them, a safe place, to offer those kinds of services."

But then the pandemic struck. Long-standing issues experienced by families became more pronounced. That resulted in the center becoming more than just a safe space for parents to learn new platforms critical to tracking their child's education.

"A lot of times in schools, whether you like it or not, this is the resource for them. Kids spend most of their time here, right? [Parents] trust us to take care of their kids," said Oshio. "So how do we help them navigate school and the community at large? Sometimes they don't know that."

With the help of the Governor's Emergency Education Relief grant, Kailua High was able to purchase items to furnish the center. The grant also led to centers at other schools in the Kailua-Kalāheo complex area, such as Kailua Elementary, Waimānalo Elementary and Intermediate, and Kalāheo High School.

Oshio told HPR the aim is to create and maintain a system that is available for families throughout a student's education.

"We're a feeder pattern. It would be cool if we had something that was similar," she said. "So as a family that matriculates through the system, they would know that at each of these centers you would be able to count on the fact that you would have 'this' at each center."

Oshio admitted Kailua High isn't the first to have a resource center. And that it isn't for every school or complex area. But it's something their community needed.

For Baldwin, what makes the center unique is the interaction with parents. To better gauge what families need, Baldwin said she tried to find ways to be proactive with parents, such as sending out surveys asking how the center could provide assistance.

"Before, we had this kind of status quo — invite them to come to the events, sign in, give punch and cookies — which is fine. But we didn't take time to listen to the families," said Baldwin. "It was the same stuff all the time. And I think it was a total shift in our thinking. Going from what we think they want, as opposed to what they really need."

Another aspect of the center is building relations with the greater community. One example is a partnership with the nonprofit Wisdom Circles Oceania. On Tuesday, Nov. 15, the center with Wisdom Circles is hosting an event called ʻĀina + Art for families.

The center has also formed partnerships with Navy Federal Credit Union to provide an after-school financial literacy course for students.

Since opening, the center has had three digital literacy cohorts for parents, showing how they can access the school's digital resources.

Kailua High School Family Resource Center.jpeg
Casey Harlow / HPR
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Inside the Family Resource Center

But as time goes on, Baldwin hopes the center evolves to provide assistance to the greater needs of families and students.

"We don't need to be everything to everybody," said Baldwin. "We need to pick a few things, and do them very well. Because we only get one shot at this."

Kailua High School's Family Resource Center isn't limited to families with students at the school. Families in the Kailua-Kalāheo complex area are welcome to participate in events and courses.

Going forward, Oshio and Baldwin hope to build up the center to provide more courses, and expand its events and resources.

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at charlow@hawaiipublicradio.org or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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