SISTER JOAN MADDEN / 1928-2006
Catholic principal founded Hoala School values-based education
Sister Joan Madden believed that character development of students is as important as their academic learning and that parents need to join teachers in the education process.
Her philosophy of education was the foundation for schools in Wahiawa and Napa, Calif., and is now being spread in teacher education programs here and on the mainland. But it led to her being fired by Catholic school officials.
Madden, 78, a school principal on Oahu for nearly 40 years, died Oct. 31 in Dubuque, Iowa. She moved there in 2002, to the mother house of her religious order, the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Madden developed her holistic approach to education during 23 years as principal of Our Lady of Sorrows School in Wahiawa. Her innovations, in which students as well as teachers and parents joined in decisions about their education, led to her dismissal in 1986. She was reinstated after a legal appeals process but later resigned.
The dispute led some teachers and supportive parents to create Hoala School in Wahiawa, where the Madden model of education is continued. She was its principal until 2001.
"She saw kids learning things but not becoming really different, not changing in capacity to make their lives be better and the world be better," said Jef Fern, one of the founding teachers of Hoala School.
"She was so dynamic and insightful," Fern said. "She taught that you live the habits and values you want to teach. That is why we have such a strong parent component. We advocate that parents set strong limits in a way that is respectful, for the kids to feel respected.
"Joan was a Roman Catholic nun at a time when the church had just gone through the Second Vatican Council," said Fern. "It was a time of upheaval; her order changed the way they operated. It turned her world upside down." He said Madden attended seminars in self-actualization, studied Alfred Adler's "individual psychology" theory and worked with local psychiatrist Raymond Corsini in developing what they called "rational education."
It is now known as the Hoala program, said the school's principal, Nancy Barry. "We are trying to continue her work, and we are being recognized." She said summer classes for teachers will be offered here and on the mainland next year. Madden and the Hoala program were recognized by the Valley Forge Freedom Foundation in Pennsylvania and the Character Education Partnership in Washington, D.C.
Linda Inlay, director of River School in Napa, Calif., a public charter school operating on the Hoala model, said Madden hired her as a teacher in 1973, telling her, "You don't teach subjects, you teach who you are. I have taken that message to train my teachers ... their tone, their attitude, kids are very aware when we do not walk our talk. I'm a different kind of educator, a different person because I met Joan."
Madden was born in Chicago. She is survived by nieces and nephews.
A celebration of her life will be held at Hoala School at 4 p.m. Nov. 19. Memorial donations may be made to Hoala School, 1067 California Ave., Wahiawa, HI 96786.