Aloha and Mahalo in 2017

Aloha and Mahalo in 2017

The Punahou ‘ohana bids farewell to 20 colleagues who retired in the 2016 – 2017 school year. These tributes are based on interviews with the honorees, their supervisors and colleagues, and were written by Rachel Breitweser ’03, Camila Chaudron ’08 and Scott Osborn ’94.

Robin Beasley

Cooke Library Technician

In her role as acquisition secretary, Robin ’68 was responsible for processing the orders of books and magazine subscriptions that the librarians selected for Ing Learning Center, Bishop Learning Center and Cooke Library.

“I really enjoyed being on campus because it’s such a stimulating environment with many different programs and activities always going on,” says Robin. “The students are energetic, and I worked with an amazing group of people.”

Fun fact: Robin’s mother, BJ Rutsch, worked at Punahou in the exact same position in Cooke Library from 1966 – 1986. And Robin worked at the same desk her mother once sat at! Other family ties to Punahou include Robin’s dad, Richard ’40, and siblings, Peter ’65, Wendy ’71, David ’73 and Catherine ’74.

Robin and her husband, Kim, have three sons: Koa ’98, and twins Brendon and Cameron (both Class of 2000 graduates of Kalani High School).

Since retiring in late 2016, she has been busy in her role as treasurer of the Friends of Falls of Clyde. The organization is currently fundraising to send the Falls of Clyde, berthed at Pier 7 next to Aloha Tower, back to Scotland – where the National Historic Landmark vessel was built in 1878 – for total restoration.

She has also been spending time with her classmates as their Reunion committee begins planning for their 50th Reunion in June 2018. She confesses that she is still figuring out retirement, but is quick to say, “I must admit I don’t miss those 5:30 a.m. alarms!” Robin’s favorite thing is spending time with her granddaughter, Kaila (2), whom Robin takes care of once a week.

Evelyn Cheong

Grade 8 Math Faculty

Evelyn was born and raised in New York City. Her dream of becoming a teacher began when she was in seventh grade. She attended City College of New York to earn her bachelor’s degree, and went on to Colgate University to earn her master of arts in teaching degree. In college, she met her future husband, Richard, while studying abroad in Taiwan.

Evelyn began her career teaching science at Collegiate School, a prestigious all boys prep school in Manhattan. Her second job was teaching Regents Chemistry at Manhasset High School in Long Island.

Richard and Evelyn carried on a long-distance romance and when the time came to decide where to live after they were married, Richard’s hometown of Honolulu was the easy choice. She asked him where she should look for a job, and he suggested applying at Punahou.

Evelyn visited the campus for an interview during Winter Break and, much to her delight, was offered a position starting immediately after the break. She accepted, went back to New York, finished out the semester on a Friday, flew to O‘ahu on a Saturday, and was in the classroom on Monday morning. They changed their original plan of getting married in New York City to holding the ceremony in Thurston Memorial Chapel.

Despite the hectic introduction to campus, it was an easy transition. “The kids were amazing and everyone was so friendly,” she recalls. “It wasn’t long before I felt like I was part of the Punahou family.”

In addition to her 37 years in the classroom, Evelyn founded the MATHCOUNTS team at Punahou and served as its coach, leading the team to multiple chapter and state titles.

Evelyn and Richard have three children, Brandon ’06, Christopher ’05 and Richard ’01. She looks forward to visiting them in retirement.

Laurie Ching

Grade 6 Science/Math Faculty

Laurie was raised in Hilo. After graduating from Hilo High School, she enrolled at University of Hawai‘i – Manoa and earned her bachelor’s and then her master’s in curriculum and instruction.

She worked at the Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association Science Lab for two years before working for the Hawai‘i Department of Education as an elementary school teacher. She joined Kamehameha Schools Elementary School – Kapalama campus for a time and eventually became site supervisor for the Kamehameha Early Education Program in Wai‘anae.

When offered a chance to take a position at Punahou, she pounced on it. “It just felt like it would be a great opportunity for me and my family,” she recalls. “It turned out to be the best decision I ever made. The culture of Punahou is something special. You are part of a community that goes far beyond the classroom.”

Laurie taught second grade for six years before making the move to sixth grade, first as a humanities teacher and then as a science and math teacher. Her favorite memories of Punahou include working with her teaching partner, Bob Tam ’67, and, of course, the annual pilgrimage to Camp Timberline. “The accommodations are certainly rustic but the experience bonds the group, and friendships made there are lasting.”

Looking back on her nearly 30 years at Punahou, Laurie knows what she is going to miss most. “Interacting with the students. They always brought energy and a great attitude to the classroom.”

Laurie and her husband, Cliff, have two sons, Brad ’02 and Jeff ’05. She is looking forward to having “time to breathe,” and hopes to visit her sons in California.

Reney Ching

Cafeteria Operations Manager

Reney is part of the hardworking Dole Hall team that oversees the immense responsibility of feeding Punahou students, faculty and staff every day. Reney does a lot of the cooking herself, adding her special touch and soliciting feedback from the students she serves. She is also one of the leads behind Punahou Carnival’s famous Portuguese bean soup, a role she inherited five years ago. “The pots never turn off,” she says.

She has also played a large role outside the kitchen, which has extended beyond cooking to coaching paddling for 30 years, track for 20 years and kayaking for 10 years. “That’s 60 seasons coaching for Punahou,” shares the former shot put and discus thrower, and graduate of Kaimuki High School. In 2011, she was recognized as the Positive Coaching Alliance’s Double Goal Award recipient, placing in the top 20 coaches in the nation.

Reney has inspired generations of students with her advice, “Whatever you do, do it from the heart.” Reney herself has a huge heart and has given much to the School. “From her heart comes her love for the kids and her love for Punahou,” comments supervisor Marcia Barrett ’74 Wright. To that, Reney says, “I feel blessed and very thankful for the opportunity Marcia and the School gave me.”

Once retired, she plans to spend time with her pets, two English spaniels and a blue-headed conure; swim; and take time for her “favorite pastime, watching the Hallmark channel,” she says. She will always carry memories of her time at Punahou close to her heart. “Some of my favorites will be my interactions with the kids, getting to know them and learning about what’s going on in their lives,” she shares.

Angie Church

Grade 5 Science/Math Faculty

Angie became a teacher after a 13-year career as a dental hygienist. She enjoyed the hygienist work, but developed carpal tunnel syndrome, making it difficult to perform her job. When pressed to find a new career she turned to teaching – something she had always wanted to try.

She earned her bachelor’s from the University of Hawai‘i – Manoa, and a master’s in education from Gonzaga University. Since becoming a teacher, Angie has taught kindergarten through grade 7, but found fifth grade to be a perfect fit.

Before coming to Punahou, Angie taught at Wailupe Valley School, where she was awarded the prestigious Milken Educator Award in 1996. Throughout her career, she developed a reputation as a teacher who truly cares about her students and is invested in their success. “I always loved helping students get over hurdles, whether social or academic, and showing them that they can do more than they initially thought they could,” she says.

Her time at Punahou has been fulfilling, and she is grateful for the opportunity to be here. “It’s been a wonderful journey,” she says. “The community is so loving and caring.”

Angie’s next stage in life is full of uncertainty. She and her husband, Greg, are headed to the continental U.S. and will play the role of vagabonds until they settle on a final destination. “Greg and I always enjoyed taking walks on the beach,” she says. “We’ll still go on walks but the scenery is sure to be different.”

As they embark across the U.S. they plan to visit their children, Brett ’99 and Kacy ’03, as well as Angie’s parents in Tennessee. She hopes that during her travels, she will be able to continue building a life rooted in taking care of others.

Tai Crouch

Junior School Outdoor Education Faculty

“In an age of specialization and atomization, Tai was well ahead of the trend to cross the boundaries of subject areas,” says longtime colleague Bob Tam. “Tai is a real Renaissance man.” Indeed, Tai has taught everything from medieval European to ancient Asian history, from Hawaiian culture to outdoor education. Trained as an anthropologist and historian at the University of Hawai‘i, Tai’s curiosity and dedication have taken him across the world, and deep into the hearts and minds of his students.

As an Outdoor Education Coordinator, Tai was responsible for leading the camp experiences for thousands of Punahou students, guiding them in their love and respect of their natural surroundings.

As anyone who has worked with Tai can attest, it is his ability to care for his students and foster their natural sense of awe, curiosity and wonder that most captures the imagination of his students. As Bob notes, Tai can often be found “helping a shy child find courage, a weak child find strength, or an injured child find solace.” Tai is also a master storyteller, often sharing spooky stories or tales of his adventures as a crew member aboard Hokule‘a.

Tai was also a valuable resource to faculty and friends. Tai’s faculty partner in the Gates Science Workshop, Gail Peiterson, notes that Tai, as a lifelong learner, “loves to learn about the culture of the places he visits.”

Tai will be remembered for his unwavering commitment to education, to students, to the land, to righteousness, to malama pono. Former Academy Principal Win Healy put it best when he once wrote that Tai “transcended expectations.” Decades later, Bob corroborates his statement perfectly: “Tai is an amazing educator, an engaging storyteller and a good friend. His contributions to this community are legion!”

Keomailani Fergerstrom

Academy Language Department Head

“Keomailani is the epitome of ALOHA!” writes third-grade kumu Maxine Nu‘uhiwa. She intentionally writes in uppercase and with the exclamation point because “Keo breathes ALOHA, lives ALOHA, and infuses ALOHA into her teaching and relationships with students, colleagues and friends.”

As both kumu ‘olelo Hawai‘i and as Language Department head, Keomailani – along with her colleagues – has overseen the blossoming of the Hawaiian language program at Punahou as it has grown into a full-fledged graduation credit-bearing program. Thanks to the efforts of the teachers and the support of the administration, Hawaiian is now offered in grades 3, 4 and 7 – 12, and to Punahou’s youngest students through the Wo International Center after school immersion program.

“I’m happy to be leaving Punahou knowing that they will continue to build on the work we’ve done together,” she reflects. “I feel great satisfaction and happiness to have had my gifts and skills embraced at Punahou; I feel like I’ve fulfilled my calling.”

“Her strong spiritual center and her devotion to her family guide her thoughts, actions and heart,” notes Naomi Hirano-Omizo, her colleague in the Academy Language Department. “She finds many ways to give to others in thoughtful ways, whether it means accommodating colleagues’ teaching loads or remembering to send a thoughtful birthday or thank you-note. Talented with her hands, Keomailani also loves to create artistic and thoughtful gifts for friends and colleagues.”

Looking ahead, Keomailani views her retirement not as an end, but as a transition. “We will deeply miss Keomailani’s aloha as she leaves us at the end of this year,” says Naomi. “She will remain a good friend to many of us who have come to know her over the years.”

Charlys Ing

Dance School Director

Charlys ’63 likes to say, “Be open to the infinite possibility,” a philosophy that serves as a perfect descriptor of her life. She first studied dance under Josephine Flanders, and although she was talented and enjoyed it, she pursued theology and mathematics before eventually returning to the world of dance.

After graduating from Punahou she earned a bachelor’s in biblical history from Wellesley College. She was asked to audition for the Alvin Ailey Dance Company in New York, but decided instead to marry her husband, Dennis, and return to Hawai‘i.

She became a math teacher at University Lab School while earning a master’s in math education from University of Hawai‘i – Manoa. After having her daughter, Kristin ’90, Charlys started taking classical ballet classes. It was at a concert at Kennedy Theatre that she was asked to audition for the Honolulu City Ballet Company, setting the stage for her to become a professional dancer at the age of 30. “I’m convinced that I was a dancer in a previous life,” she explains. “When I stepped out on that stage I knew it was what I was meant to do.”

She started teaching at the Punahou Dance School in 1978 as a part-timer, and became director of the Dance School in 1990. Twelve Triennials, nine Finales, 28 Variety Shows, 28 Summer Dance Awareness shows, several Academy musicals and 36 Nutcracker productions later, Charlys is ready for the next stage in her life.

“I am blessed to have worked so many years in a job which I love,” she says. “Teaching young dancers every day has been very stimulating, often surprising, sometimes quite challenging, always gratifying.”

Marie-Christine Jude

Academy French Faculty

Great, tireless, caring, innovative. The words used to describe Marie-Christine read like a dictionary definition of excellence. “Marie-Christine is a master teacher,” writes Academy Assistant Principal Paula Hodges. “She is a reflective practitioner, always thinking about the effects of her teaching choices on student learning.”

For over three decades, Marie-Christine has been at the helm of the Academy’s French language sub-department, guiding generations of élèves through the trenches of French grammar, the nuances of French culture, the intricacies of French poetry and literature, the glories of French cinema and cuisine.

In direct contrast to the traditionalism of educational pedagogy in France, Marie-Christine is a consummate innovator. Longtime Academy colleague and English faculty Sheryl Dare ’66 explains: “Create a whole new textbook on the iPad? Pas de problème! Revamp her lessons around a desk-less environment to create a more intimate space? Bien sûr! And her beneficiaries are not just students but her colleagues as well – her lucky faculty partners who have experienced firsthand her warmth, wisdom and moral clarity.”

Indeed, this is where Marie-Christine’s passion lies: in her ability to carefully observe, thoughtfully redesign, iterate again and again until the most simple, effective method for teaching can be found. Personalization is a continual process of self-reflection and renewal: “On enseign ce que l’on est,” she says, meaning that you teach who you are. In other words, teach authentically and to your strengths.

Marie-Christine’s most essential virtues are the ones that will be the most missed when she moves with her husband to Pacific Grove, California, this summer.

Melanie Killam

Librarian, Cooke Library

Melanie cataloged every book, DVD and audiobook ordered for Ing Learning Center, Bishop Learning Center and Cooke Library, so that students have access to these great resources. “That’s over 4,000 items per year,” she shares. Her service at Punahou has extended beyond the libraries to many parts of campus when she realized early on she wanted to become more active with students. “I like that Punahou allowed me to carve my own path,” she says.

Melanie has enjoyed working with students in several capacities. She was an advisory teacher, starting with the Class of 1998 and most recently with the Class of 2018. She was co-advisor with Scott Herzer for the Academy Student Senate and helped found the annual “Cow Day.” She was an assistant coach of the boys JV and varsity cross country teams from 2006 – 2011. She also added the role of the Club Status and Funding Committee Faculty Coordinator in 2007 and coordinated the annual Club Fair.

She has cherished her time working with the Student Senate, both in getting to know students over the years and working with her co-advisor. “Melanie has been the glue that held Student Senate and the Club Funding and Status Committee together for the past 20 years. If there was some great project to do, Melanie would provide the support needed to get it done. She will be truly missed by her students and me,” says Herzer.

In her retirement, Melanie will continue to pursue her hobbies and passions. She plans to keep running, working in her yard, making T-shirt quilts and ribbon lei, reading, and being an active member of the Kailua United Methodist Church. She looks forward to traveling and spending more time with her daughters, Carly ’03 and Caitlin ’05.

Kathy Larsen

Cooke Library Technician

Kathy’s journey at Punahou started as a parent. Her oldest daughter, Megen ’98, a rising second-grade student at the time, was attending Summer School. After dropping her off at class, she decided to ask if there were any positions open at Punahou. Her timing was perfect, as the School had just learned that a position was opening up in the library. After an impromptu interview and several follow-ups, she was sitting in Cooke Library watching over the circulation desk. “It was meant to be,” she says.

As Megen and her sister, Erin ’02, grew older, they started dancing hula with Hattie Eldredge ’66 Phillips. Ever the supportive parent, Kathy started volunteering for the Holoku Pageant, using her skills to help craft the Hawaiian and Tahitian costumes. She was also a regular participant in the faculty and staff dance at the pageant.

Kathy always enjoyed working at the place where her children were going to school. “I’m grateful that I was able to share in their educational experiences at Punahou,” she says. Her attitude also extended to the students in Cooke Library. “It was always a joy to be a part of their lives, whether it was helping them to find a book in the library, or being there as someone they could talk to about their personal lives.”

Kathy is looking forward to the next phase of her life, but she knows what she will miss most about Punahou. “The people here are so great, I’m going to miss them all.” She is excited, though, to spend more time with her two grandchildren, Donovan (5) and Mallory (3), who live in Huntington Beach.

Cathryn Lau

Grades 4 – 5 Art Faculty

Like every true artist, Cathryn is continually reinventing herself. Her first career as an interior designer took her all around the country, from Chicago to New York and California, before she chanced into a new role as a teacher. Upon discovering her passion for the classroom, Cathryn acquired her teaching credentials from Long Beach State University and began teaching second grade in California. Soon thereafter, she and her family moved to Hawai‘i, where she began teaching third grade at Punahou, and they haven’t looked back since.

“Cathryn was always willing to share any new ideas and projects with the grade level,” writes BJ Namba, a third-grade teacher and longtime colleague: “It was surprising that a girl from the Midwest was so knowledgeable about Hawai‘i but that’s Cathryn – always learning, always sharing.” As a junior school art teacher, Cathryn expertly balanced the demands of hundreds of young students, encouraging their artistic expression with colorful projects that challenged them to apply their skills and techniques in creative ways.

“Not only is Cathryn an artist,” says Angie Church, “she is a collaborative teacher who tries to integrate grade level concepts.” For example, “because students learn about Colonial times in fifth grade, many of her projects reflect what was happening during those times.”

Looking back, Cathryn is grateful for her time at Punahou where she was able to work alongside dedicated educators who became good friends. She is looking forward to continuing her journey of rediscovery. The epitome of a lifelong learner, “I want to keep growing as an artist, as a cook, as a person,” she says. She also looks forward to spending more time with her family.

Linda LeGrande

Administrative Assistant, Athletics

“Organizer, scheduler, planner, and festivities manager, Linda wears many hats in the Athletics Office,” explains PE teacher Nanci Coolen. As the secretary for the Physical Education Department, Linda juggles the demands of her position with positivity and dedication. “Making the decision to retire was a difficult decision, as I love my job,” she says, and then wonders, “Who wouldn’t love signing up students for surfing, sailing and SUP classes for PE credit?”

“Linda has been a friend and colleague for 30 years,” says Diana McKibbin, also a PE teacher. “She is a kind, giving, wonderful person who has an incredible zest for life. I’ve been fortunate to have shared many good times with her and will miss her dearly. She brings her cheerful, upbeat personality and graciousness to all. She is a very special woman!”

Linda has big plans for her retirement. She plans on continuing her volunteer work with Malama Manoa, a community organization dedicated to the preservation of historic residences in the Valley.

In addition to her volunteer commitments, Linda has every intention of maintaining her active lifestyle. She hopes that retirement will allow her more opportunities to golf, garden and spend time in the ocean, especially on her stand-up paddle board. Linda is also looking forward to spending time with her family and significant other, Jeremy Lam. She plans on visiting her son, Lee ’89, who lives in Hermosa Beach with his wife and two boys, more frequently. Her two daughters, Yoni ’88 and Maya ’91, both live on O‘ahu and she hopes to see them and their children more often too. Maya’s daughter Amelie Pfeffer ’25, the sixth generation to attend Punahou, continues the tradition!

Steve Link

Grade 6 Science/Math Faculty

Being raised in California created a lifelong passion for camping. This love of the outdoors found its way into Steve’s teaching – he was a key catalyst in the drive to re-establish the fifth-grade trip to Hawai‘i Island. “The kind of learning that happens outdoors is often unplanned, but always exciting,” he explains.

For 35 years, Steve deconstructed preconceived notions of what a classroom should be, even going so far as to take a sledgehammer to a room in the Winne Units before completely renovating it. This wasn’t a case of wanton destruction; he had prefaced the renovation with careful and intentional research on classroom design.

Always looking at ways to fit the classroom to the curriculum, he was a member of the Gates Science Workshop design team and taught there for three years with Gail Peiterson. Steve also participated in an intense planning workshop at Harvard University that planted seeds for many of the concepts utilized in the new Kosasa Community.

In addition to teaching, Steve was an assistant track and field coach for three years before becoming head coach of the girls program, winning eight state championships in 11 years. He then became an assistant coach for the boys team.

His dream of becoming a teacher started in the fifth grade, and as he looks back on his time at Punahou, he is thankful for the freedom afforded to teachers at the School.

“I was allowed to be creative,” he says, reflecting on what he enjoyed about teaching at Punahou. “The art of teaching is still valued at Punahou,” he says. “Although the final product is fairly well defined, the path is never set in stone.”

Marion Lyman-Mersereau

Grade 8 Social Studies Faculty

Respect. Responsibility. Compassion. Commitment. Love. Wisdom. Health. Humor. Honesty. Cooperation. Humility. Faith. Peace. Patience. Courage. Creativity. Freedom. Environmental awareness. It’s no coincidence that 18 values of the month at Punahou are also the best descriptors of educator extraordinaire Marion ’70.

Marion literally co-authored the book on character education. Together, she and former chaplain, John Heidel, wrote “Character Education,” which served as the basis for Punahou’s values-based program. These character values have been infused into Marion’s teachings in her eighth-grade social studies class and guided her philosophy as a high-school paddling coach.

Marion models a healthy balance between mind, body and spirit. As a colleague, Marion is a constant source of inspiration to those around her, raising the bar with her high expectations of herself and her students.

Her passion for the process of learning and creation have taken Marion to distant shores, as a crew member aboard Hokule‘a, and to centerstage, as the author and director of a major theater production, “Eddie Wen’ Go: The Story of the Upside-Down Canoe.”

Colleague Dan Tuttle ’73 reflects: “Marion’s relationships with her current and past colleagues, students and athletes are legendary.” It’s no wonder that she’s often asked to officiate during people’s most important rites of passage, from marriage ceremonies to celebrations of life.

Post-retirement, Marion hopes to dedicate time to writing, surfing and volunteering, and to spending time with her family. Ever the committed educator and practicing meditator, she plans on consulting with schools to support the development of mindfulness programs.

Edward P. Moore

Academy English Faculty

Ed’s innumerable contributions leave behind a profound legacy. As a man who has been with Punahou for a good quarter of its 176-year existence, Ed long ago became a living legend.

English literature lover, actor, dramaturg, Shakespeare aficionado, department head, bibliophile, historian, eight-time marathon finisher, head coach of JV baseball and varsity softball, backpacker, mountaineer, loving husband, parent, grandparent, devout Christian, active volunteer: Ed is all these and more. His various passions infuse his teaching with an eclectic cultural energy, which he has generously shared with the thousands of young people who have entered his classroom. His colleagues – many of them former students – describe him as a “pillar of strength,” “a gentle spirit,” “a Renaissance humanist” and “an inspiration.”

His current students concur: “Mr. Moore’s instruction is incredibly rewarding because he fosters the ability to accept and even court ambiguity,” says Jon Nakagawa ’17. Given his lengthy tenure at the School, Ed has been “the voice of institutional memory, providing context and insight,” says longtime English department colleague Candace Kodani ’92 Cheever, “without being an anchor to the past. He has celebrated changes in a way that testifies to his commitment to what is best for students.”

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