What skills are emphasized that are not part of normal school education?Leadership and Critical Thinking are embedded in our project based learning. The use of tools is an important skill often under-developed in schools. Core students in this program will have routine exposure to using tools for creating and implementing projects. They will have regular experience in working cooperatively with others; many will be leading and guiding the learning of fellow students. Multi-generational collaboration is built into this structure. Tools can be anything from kitchen equipment, media technology, farm and construction equipment, crafting tools, etc. Different students will build  their own strengths and areas of expertise.


Economics and business skills are also emphasized. This includes understanding the “game” of money, observing the influence of tax laws and interest to compare passive income to earned income. Students in the core program will work to build their own income earning avenues.

Applied civics will also be emphasized where students will actively participate in County Council, County Planning, court hearings as they present themselves as relevant. Engaged activism is built into community studies. We will expect and encourage a diversity of opinion.

What is required of the parents?

Interest and involvement by a parent, grandparent or significant adult is very important in student success. The parents are respected as essential to the child’s learning. Parents are welcome to join us in our learning adventures whether that is at Waipa or on a field trip or outing. Parents can sign-up and be students in programs that are put together such as Hoike television training, First Aid & CPR, Gun Safety, Food Safety and others. Parents are asked to participate in at least two parent workshops that help clarify how to actively involve the student in the math and science of true home economics with the student helping with the purchasing of groceries, paying bills, cooking, planning, laundry, sorting mail, purchasing gas, estimating travel time, booking travel plans, fixing the car, feeding the animals, mowing the lawn, anything that helps to build a sense of responsibility and the routine use of numbers and decision making. A second workshop would strengthen the habit of making the extras count, like TV time, news, film watching, facebook, taking trips, a new baby, managing a sick family member, creating a small business; anything is an opportunity to learn. Homework should be help-work.  We are building life skills. If you love math and want to teach at home; wonderful! If you need to learn math yourself along side your child; wonderful also. You can co-read books together. A lot of learning happens in the surf at dawn patrol. What your time together should be is fun, not a power struggle over finishing an assignment. Please look at the detail on the events page under parent workshop.

What is the schedule?

In general, programs will be planned at Waipa through Akamai Learning from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on weekdays. Waipa also has after school programs for reading support and work experience for teenagers. Ideally, a student would be at Akamai Learning at Waipa three days a week Monday, Wednesday & Friday, allowing other time for personal emphasis. For full-time working parents they may choose to partner with another family for learning in freedom along personal lines of interest. Students may choose to take art and music classes for example that are structured to be on the opposite days. The goal with this level of freedom is to allow the child to really build whatever talent or interest is not best served at Waipa. This may be at their church, or through night play practice with Hawaii Children’s Theater, canoe practice, gymnastics, recording songs, surfing, working a job, hanging with their mom running errands; all of these are meaningful learning environments. Civil Air Patrol, and Sea Scouts are two more examples of very useful applied learning in a structured environment in which the students learn to fly and seafare. These two programs supported by the US Air Force and Coast Guard provide a rich contrast to the nature environment of Waipa. Ho`ike cable television also has an instructional location at Common Ground in Kilauea. We will be working with them for some fun, enriching media learning on the complimenting Tuesdays & Thursdays.

The year will also be broken into project blocks of time so students can shift their focus if one element or another is best served with a change. The schedule will basically mirror the public school calendar with the exception that it will start one week later on 8/12/13. It will end 5/29/14. The fall, winter and spring breaks will be the same as public school. Thanksgiving will have a full week break. We will not have breaks on the public school’s furlough days or teacher in-service days. The learning blocks will be mostly in 5 week modules. Students will pay for and stick with a commitment by module. There is no charge on breaks. Families may choose to take an extended trip and skip a module with only support from the program and without a fee for the missed time.

While at Waipa, students will be on a study rotation in smaller groups of about 5-7 kids, split by academic skill level and interests. There will be three main rotations in the day, one primarily building academic skills, another on project based learning, and a third in smaller apprenticeship-style learning pods (2-3 students) through focused contribution in helping the operation of the ahupua`a. Students can shift focus with the changes to the next 5 week learning block.

Is this accredited?

Your child will qualify as being home schooled, which is acceptable to the public school system. They will turn in their requirements as a home schooled student at the end of the year to Kapaa Middle, if their home schooling is registered there. We recommend this, but it is not mandatory. Past Akamai Learning students have easily reintegrated to high school at~or beyond~grade level.

How do we know they won’t fall behind regular school?

Most people thrive when they are allowed to think for themselves. Learning with physical movement builds a different path to memory than reading and sitting. Both have value. If a child is ahead or on grade level, they typically excel in the traditional skill sets easily. If a student has a measurable deficit in reading, writing or math, greater care needs to placed on the monitoring and focused skill building. If a student at 7th grade simply cannot read or do basic math, additional tutoring will likely be needed to strengthen those weak skills, especially if they have a true learning disability. Often learning with purpose will bridge the gap that has developed over the years for a student who has been disinterested with drill work.

How is their performance measured?

We recommend for students to take the Hawaii State Assessment test at Kapa`a Middle School with their regular test program. Almost all past Akamai Learning students showed gains from 6th to 7th grade and exceeded the state, school, and district average on the Hawaii State Assessment tests.

In general, Akamai Learning does not assign direct homework, give grades or tests. The accomplishments and gains are evident in the work and competence achieved by the student. Philosophically, we do not agree with the concept of grades. We are striving to develop inspired work that speaks for itself. The goal is self-directed, life-long learners motivated by their own thirst for knowledge and self-respect.

What if I think there are holes in my child’s education that I am concerned about?

Most students who have a full schedule that includes 3 or more days with Akamai Learning and a constructive plan for their independent days are likely to not need additional support. There are a number of on-line free educational programs that are quite good such as the Kahn Academy that can supplement without a tutor. If there are a cluster of students who desire strong support on writing mechanics for example, we can specifically hire a teacher with that emphasis.

Can this parallel with other on-line or home school programs?

Yes. Hawaii Technology Academy is enthusiastic about this partnership. We can work with other on-line programs, as well. If there are happy home schooling families who simply want some enrichment for their student with select projects or field trips, we can make that happen also. Any of these combinations are likely to want to only spend about two days a week with our program as on-line efforts do really require their own time of focus.

How much does it cost?

Our fee structure is still under development, but we are working toward about $25/day (less than a typical hour of tutoring). So a 3 day/week 5-week block would work out to $375 for that window of time. A year at that fee structure would be under $3,000. A family would need to budget in additional costs for outside programs that might be independently organized like a tutor, gymnastics or music lessons, for example. Talk to us if this fee structure is impossible, especially with multiple children. There may be a materials fee. If you are aware of donor support, we welcome that inclusion to either provide scholarships, equipment, or overall cost containment.

What about bus transportation?

We encourage students coming from a distance to get a Kauai Bus Pass. This strengthens their life skills development. The bus rolls into Hanalei around 8:45 a.m. and leaves about 2:15 p.m. We can have a Waipa van take them to and from the Hanalei Court House bus stop at that time.

How do we sign up?

Fill out the survey at Akamai Learning ~ Waipa family questionnaire 


What are the requirements of the students and families?

The number one requirement Akamai Learning has of students and families is to treat anyone associated with the program, in any way, with full respect. Other students, parents, learning guides, staff, hosts, everyone needs to be honored and treated with dignity and respect. The students will be operating in an environment that is a reflection of real life and community rather than an institution with a strong set of rules and disciplinary action. If behavior is inappropriate, they will be sent home. If it is chronic and different group structuring doesn’t improve the problem, the program may not be the right fit.

Ideally, students have laptops, notepads, or access to a computer at home.

A good beginning is a student who is excited about the opportunity to learn in freedom. There is enough flexibility in the structure that the student should be looking forward to coming and participating. We don’t anticipate much in the way of behavior problems. Starting at the beginning of the school year is the best way to ensure success, rather than giving another program a try and “dropping out” to join us at Waipa. Better to start the year with full success than to have come into the program after a defeat.

We welcome students with open arms and an open heart to Waipa. A student who is an active learner or is easily bored in a structured classroom most often thrives in the Akamai Learning environment. We are excited to share in a learning adventure together. Please use the comment box below if you have questions or e-mail to akamaimom@gmail.com.

Waipa and Akamai Learning
Building Community Resilience
Empowering our Youth

Office of the County Council - County of Kauaʻi

4396 Rice Street, Suite 209, Lihuʻe, Kauaʻi, HI 96766 

Office Phone: 808-241-4092 / Fax: 808-241-6349 

Cell Phone: 808-652-4363

Felicia Cowden Ohana

4191 Kilauea Road, Kilauea, HI 96754

Cell Phone: 808-652-4363