Saturday, April 06, 2019

Social Justice Summit encourages teachers to educate and empower

Listen, understand and advocate

Sometimes the one thing your students need most has nothing to do with what's on your lesson plan.

On Saturday, April 6, HSTA's Human and Civil Rights Committee hosted a Social Justice Summit to empower educators to address issues of LGBTQ, homelessness, abuse and suicide prevention in their communities. This event was free and open to the public, and featured Lt. Gov. Josh Green and keynote speaker Maya Soetoro-Ng.

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

"My commitment to social justice was likely born in my childhood, shadowing my mother as she worked with incredible women and youth and village leaders in Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia to build microfinance programs and improve access and inclusion," Soetoro-Ng explained. "That commitment was something I carried with me as an educator to New York and here in Hawaii where I understood that the truly educative experience was one that allowed us to find a way to meaningfully participate and together build our beloved community. The issues that are being covered at the HSTA Social Justice Summit, like LGBTQ rights, houselessness, suicide and bullying prevention and more, are issues that impact us all. In turn, we have the capacity to impact all of those issues and to meaningfully contribute."

A panel of experts led breakout sessions as follows:

Suicide Prevention
Presented by Kaohuonapua "Pua" Kaninau-Santos, Queen Liliuokalani Trust

Pua Kaninau-Santos is a social worker at Liliuokalani Trust. She chairs the Oahu Prevent Suicide Hawaii Taskforce and has been a registered Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) trainer since 2005. Kaninau-Santos is a survivor of her son, Kaniela Kaninau, who died by suicide as a high school senior. Through her tragedy she embraces unspoken gifts in the aftermath, Hawaiian core cultural values, a safety net to hope and healing, a deeper sense of aloha and faith in akua.

Bullying and LGBTQ
Presented by Augie T, wife Kim Tulba and daughter Mahealani Sims-Tulba in association with B.R.A.V.E. Hawaii

B.R.A.V.E. Hawaii is a local non-profit organization founded and created by Mahealani Sims-Tulba in 2013. The name "B.R.A.V.E" is an acronym that stands for "Be Respectful and Value Everyone." Having been a victim of bullying herself, Sims-Tulba works hard in the community to bring awareness to students against bullying by speaking and reading to schools while promoting values of kindness and respectfulness, goal setting, personal development and motivation.

Child Abuse
Presented by Elizabeth Fujii, Molokai Child Abuse Prevention Pathways

Issues of sexual abuse, assault and harassment are coming to light in Hawaii and around the world. When survivors seek help, they will often tell a teacher. Learn to empower your students by spotting, addressing and preventing sexual violence.

Presented by Carla Houser, Residential Youth Services and Empowerment (RYSE); Morgan Esarey, Partners in Care Coordinated Entry System (CES); Sara Alimoot, Hawaii Department of Education, Office of Education of Homeless Children and Youth

RYSE is a street outreach and housing program for transitioned-age youth experiencing homelessness. Houser will address connecting homeless teens and young adults back into the education system. CES is a part of a federal mandate to match the most vulnerable homeless clients with the most appropriate, and often scarce, resources available. In her position, Esarey works closely with youth and families, and will provide an overview of the CES and the importance of data as a collaborative tool when coordinating with other stakeholders. Alimoot serves as the Community Homeless Concerns Liaison for the Castle-Kahuku Complex area schools in the Windward District. She works with children and families who are identified under the Federal McKinney-Vento Act in order to ensure that children have uninterrupted access to education, regardless of their unstable living arrangement. She will provide participants with examples of how she is empowering her schools to identify and support their students, as well as who the regional contacts are for each district and complex area.

Schedule of Events (times are approximate)

  • 9:35 a.m. - Lt. Gov. Josh Green and keynote speaker Maya Soetoro-Ng
  • 10 a.m. - Panel introduction
  • 11:05 a.m. - Breakout session #1
  • 12:05 p.m. - Lunch (bentos will be provided)
  • 12:50 p.m. - Breakout session #2
  • 1:50 p.m. - Closing discussion and remarks

Why are social justice issues so important?