Director of New Faculty, Growth Coach and Academy Science Faculty
Connecting the Dots
Dan Gaudiano’s career started in coastal oceanography before new tides carried him toward education. Now in his 20th year at Punahou, he has truly found his calling in teaching. From instructing AP Environmental Science to leading student trips to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, Gaudiano aims to deepen students’ connections to science and the world around them. In addition to teaching, Gaudiano mentors the next generation of educators in his capacity as director of new faculty, and works with experienced teachers as a growth coach with the Center for Teaching and Learning. When not in the classroom, the New Jersey native balances family life with outdoor adventures – unless the self-proclaimed meteorology fanatic is at home watching the Weather Channel.
How did you begin your teaching career?
I started in coastal oceanography and later went into a master’s program for teaching. I taught in South Carolina and Rhode Island before moving to Hawai‘i in 2003, joining Punahou in 2004 after a stint at Mid-Pac.
How does it feel to reach your 20th year at Punahou?
It seems like a big number, but I don’t feel like I’ve been here that long. Compared to some of my other colleagues, I feel new!
What makes Punahou special for you?
I appreciate how much both students and teachers care about the work we’re doing here. We have facilities and resources that enable us to create a world-class experience for our students. We have an unbelievable opportunity to do great work, and seeing educators and students embrace that makes this a wonderful community. How could we dream of a better scenario?
What are your current roles at the School?
I teach AP Environmental Science and was the department chair of the Academy Science Department for seven years.
Now I’m the director of new faculty and a growth coach for the Center for Teaching and Learning. I help new teachers acclimate and achieve their goals, whether they’ve moved from the Junior School or are brand new to Punahou.
A lot of teaching happens in isolation so having dedicated coaches helps teachers feel supported. It’s nice to be able to offer encouragement and to hold up a mirror and say, ‘You are a master teacher and you’re working with kids in an inspiring way.’ That’s energizing, fun and hopefully meaningful.
What are highlights of your teaching career?
Teaching environmental science has been one. This year we have the most students in the class we’ve ever had. The class is timely, relevant and linked to everything we see in the news – an intersection of science, economics, ethics, ecology and sociology.
The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone Capstone Science class for seniors that I developed is another highlight. The trip is very special. It allows students to compare and contrast Hawai‘i with other places. Yellowstone is a volcanic hot spot like Hawai‘i, but so different and so much colder. Going there and seeing intact food webs with bears, coyotes and elk allows students to be curious observers of the natural world and creates a greater sense of caring for the environment, both there and back home.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Being a parent is a huge part of my life. I have a big extended family with Wendi Kamiya, an Academy dean at Punahou. Our kids are involved in sports, rock climbing, ballet and basketball. Family is important to me, whether it’s hosting Thanksgiving for 20 people or attending my children’s weekend events.
I also enjoy surfing, hiking and the outdoors. I’m also a weather fanatic and take an interest in phenomena like hurricanes or El Niño. When I’m not watching Philadelphia Eagles football games, I really like watching the Weather Channel, which my family teases me about.
– By Rachel Breitweser ’03
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