What Hanalani Schools Means to Lynn Finnegan ('88)
Lynn Finnegan, Hanalani Schools' Assistant Head of Schools and a 1988 graduate, is a well-known figure in both education and legislative circles here in Hawaii. Over the years, she’s worked for Waialae Elementary, Voyager Charter School and Hawaii Public Charter Schools, and launched a career in education politics. Thanks to her many years of experience, she has a unique perspective on how Hanalani stands apart in its role within the community by shaping today’s kids.
“My whole reason for getting involved in education was my kids. I wanted to provide a good solid education where I wouldn’t have to worry for my kids,” says Finnegan, who joined Hanalani's staff last year October. She’s a former Hanalani School student herself and spent a year and a half here during high school. “The traditional Hanalani Schools I grew up with has really blossomed into a cutting edge, innovative school that has all the goals and vision to be a world-class Christian educator. This fuels me!” says Lynn. As she got to know more about Hanalani’s educational and spiritual support, she was so impressed with the school’s direction, vision and goals for children that she couldn’t turn down the opportunity to work as Assistant Head of Schools.
In her experience, teachers and parents within the local community are looking for more than just an educational environment – a school needs to provide innovative opportunities to educate the child as a whole. “Hanalani is more equipped than most schools for such opportunities,” says Finnegan. “We don’t have as many interruptions or obstacles that the public schools may have, and we’re able to move quicker. When we’re talking about building communities and having local people fill areas where we need expertise and innovation, Hanalani excels.”
What’s next? Finnegan is excited about Hanalani’s growing STEAM program and the new Innovation and Arts (I&A) Center. “The I&A Center represents everything we’re doing for kids,” says Lynn. “Being able to provide the educational program and space for them to explore and gain experience and tools that they need to become successful and prepared after Hanalani. That’s exciting for me – you can facilitate and teach students to learn, be critical and develop these skills that will help them in the career path they choose.”
Some of her fondest memories at Hanalani: “The bonding with all of the different grade levels - kindergarten to 12th when we all got up early and rode the bus together from Waianae,” she recalls. She’s also a huge fan of the staff birthday celebrations at the school. “There’s a big mess, confetti everywhere…it’s so special and great that everyone feels important.”
Finnegan has a clear and exciting vision for Hanalani Schools, as she shares her hopes for future students. “When we talk about God’s kingdom, we need people of all types - whether they’re a surgeon or on a shuttle to the moon or in a restaurant. They are all contributing to the kingdom of God. Supporting them in spiritual growth, that kind of environment equips them to go anywhere,” she adds, “This world gets so complicated at times, for Christians there are so many things out there that can get in the way of you living out your personal mission. The more you have that stability and Christian support while growing up, the better. The community needs people who are grounded in what they believe.”