Roni Wester, Hanalani Schools K4 teacher, had just graduated college in South Carolina when she felt the Lord calling her to Hanalani Schools in Hawai‘i – thousands of miles away from her home, family and friends. Although God had given her a nurturing love for children since she was young, it took a leap of faith for her to move so far away from everything that was familiar to her.
“Making that decision forced me to lean on God more than I ever had before, and it was such a great growth experience for me. And now, I consider Hawai‘i my home!” she said.
For Roni, the classroom is where her heart is. Working with children is a way for her to minister and teach them what it means to love the Lord. For the past 13 years, she’s been blessed in her role as a kindergarten teacher, building personal relationships with her students. “Since I teach younger students, my days are full of playing, singing, creating, hugging, crying and lots of ‘I love yous,’” said Roni.
In addition to teaching young keiki, she is also a basketball coach. Coaching is another one of her passions, and she said God has fulfilled the desire of her heart to minister in this way to the 7th- to 12th-grade girls. When she bonds with a player over breakfast, drives them home or takes them for a smoothie before games, she said the girls open up to her and she’s able to build more meaningful relationships with them. The sport also teaches discipline and teamwork, working with different personalities to accomplish a goal. They learn how to give 100% to their priorities of God, family, school and then basketball. “This opportunity continues to allow me to invest in them on a personal level, in hopes of pointing them more towards Christ,” said Roni.
She added, “I love how Hanalani gives me the opportunity to fulfill both my love of teaching and coaching. I would not trade these last 13 years of ministry for anything. I am excited about the future that God has for me.”