Investing in Teachers-To-Be: Funder Spotlight – Dr. Dolores Curtis

INPEACE’s Ka Lama program aims at getting more Wai‘anae Coast residents certified to teach in the schools within their community. In recent years, the Delores Curtis Scholarship has helped immensely in achieving this goal. A retired University of Hawai‘i professor, Dr. Delores Curtis seeks to honor the memory of one of her most cherished colleagues through this scholarship fund.

They motivated me to get funding to the community college and West Oahu so that local people would start becoming teachers and stay here on the Leeward Coast.”

Dr. Dolores Curtis

“Sue Hanson and I spent thirty years together, working with wanna-be teachers at UH, counseling them on the importance of Physical Education,” says Dr. Curtis. “Sue and I were a team.” When Hanson died in 2016, Delores decided to honor her memory by doing, “something for teachers-to-be.”

Another dynamic teaching duo, a pair of P.E. teachers that Dr. Curtis knew at Makaha Elementary School in the 1970’s, gave her an idea. “They motivated me to get funding to the community college and West Oahu so that local people would start becoming teachers and stay here on the Leeward Coast.”

The Delores Curtis Scholarship addresses one of the Leeward Coast’s most pressing educational issues: the high rate of teacher turnover. Every year, the Wai‘anae Coast is short roughly 150 teachers, which accounts for 25% of the teacher shortage of the entire state of Hawai‘i. Ka Lama puts Educational Assistants and students in the community on an accelerated pathway toward teacher licensure, and gets a huge boost from the Delores Curtis Scholarship in the form of $24,000 annually ($48,000 to date). On top of this, the Delores Curtis Scholarship awards two full-ride scholarships to University of Hawai‘i – West Oahu College of Education students every year, and four Ka Lama participants were fortunate enough to be recipients: two of them are starting school this Fall 2021, and two have already graduated and are working in Wai‘anae schools.

On her decision to fund Ka Lama and INPEACE, Dr. Curtis says, “I decided to go with INPEACE because of the flexibility with their participants. They aren’t the normal students that go to community college for two years then move on to university. A lot of them are mothers, and their courses are spread out over many years.” In addition to the general public, many of the community’s teachers, teacher assistants, mothers, and INPEACE staff themselves, are Ka Lama participants.

Dr. Curtis came to INPEACE with a plan to invest in individuals who wanted to teach in the Wai‘anae community.  At INPEACE we are striving to help her realize this dream and meet the students that she has impacted.  Dr. Curtis’s most recent visit to Wai‘anae included meeting with two of the recipients of the scholarship.   

INPEACE would like to thank Dr. Curtis and all of it’s funders for making programs like Ka Lama possible.

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