A Parent Shares Her Experience as a Partner in Education

As soon as you become a parent, finding the best school for your child becomes a top priority. In Hawai‘i, the school hunt is competitive: different recommendations will come from family, friends and other parents, the years-long waitlists are daunting, and the ever-rising tuition costs for top private schools is frustrating. Plus, there are the values of a school to consider – will this school be the best fit for your child and your family?
Through a Mother’s Eyes
For Nami Olson, mother of Sofia (’26) and Seiya (’30), relocating to Hawai‘i from Germany added another layer to the hunt for a good school. As a military family, the Olsons didn’t know anybody in the area, so Nami did her due diligence and asked around for recommendations. For her older daughter Sofia, Nami took the advice of some neighbors and initially enrolled her at a local public elementary school. On the advice of other neighbors, she and her husband enrolled their son, Seiya, at Hanalani Schools.
While at Hanalani Schools, Seiya began demonstrating  more respect towards his peers and obediently listened to his parents. “It was a huge difference that we saw in Seiya, and I truly believe it was because of Hanalani Schools and his teacher, Miss Reilly Parker,” says Nami, “She was really patient with him.”
Previously, Seiya underwent speech therapy to address a speech delay, but Nami noticed that he began speaking more while attending Hanalani Schools. “We explained to Miss Parker about Seiya’s speech delay, but she said that he was speaking just fine in class! At home, I notice that he speaks so eagerly now and has a great vocabulary,” says Nami.
Great Minds Learn Differently
Unlike her younger brother, Sofia had a very different experience her first year in a Hawai‘i school. So much so that Nami had noticed remarkable differences between her children. Growing up, Sofia showed a blossoming creative side and an endearing love of animals. At her new school, Sofia and her parents often struggled with acclimating to different education practices and teaching methods. It comes as no surprise that making the decision to have Sofia join her brother at Hanalani Schools wasn’t very difficult for Nami and her husband.
Blossoming Self-Expression
Sofia is now flourishing at Hanalani and tells her mother how much she loves her teachers. She is excelling academically, thanks to Hanalani’s design thinking approach to learning. On a recent science class assignment, instead of just writing about their favorite animals, students were tasked with using clay to create a model and share with the class. Sofia chose an animal with a playful spirit that matched her own: a dolphin.
“Hanalani focuses on more project-based learning, instead of the traditional research methods we grew up doing. It’s more hands-on and applicable, which is perfect for a creative thinker like Sofia,” says Nami.  
Nami also values her relationship with her children’s teachers. She loves that they always welcome feedback and encourage open communication from the parents. She says, “The teachers encourage me to share about how my children learn at home, and that’s important to me. They are very flexible and will find the best learning style for my child.”
Nami has seen firsthand the Hanalani difference and is eager to share it with other parents. “Hanalani Schools view parents and guardians as partners in education, which is an incredible mindset to have,” says Nami. “They care about our children’s overall well-being on top of their academic successes, and they involve the family at all stages. I’m so thankful knowing that Sofia and Seiya are in good hands.”