Top Teachers

Saturday, March 13, 1999

Name: Michael Casupang
Age: 34
Position: Hula instructor at Mid-Pacific Institute
Pastimes: Featherwork, writing Hawaiian songs

Seeking harmony with others

Michael Casupang cultivates the feeling of ohana with all students.

A few years ago, one of Casupang's students needed to attend an important family function on Kauai but couldn't make it back in time for a May Day rehearsal. Without a second thought, Casupang gave the student $100 for a roundtrip ticket so that he could come back from Kauai to attend the rehearsal and resume the rest of the trip. Casupang expected nothing in return.

"My parents would have done the same thing for me," said Casupang, a hula instructor at Mid-Pacific Institute. He's also a kumu hula from Robert Cazimero's Halau Na Kamalei.

Hula has so much to do with love and acceptance of others -- values Casupang learned early in life. "If you can't be in harmony with people and can't accept them for who they are, then the hula doesn't come out as beautiful," he said.

Academic advisor Joanne Suzuki said she remembers when, four years ago, a seventh-grade student was doing poorly academically, his grade-point average under 2.0. Casupang went out of his way to take the boy under his wings and spent hours making sure he did well in his schoolwork. The next quarter, the boy boosted his GPA to 3.5.

"Casupang reaches many struggling students and turns them around to become success stories," Suzuki said.

Shirley Iida, Star-Bulletin

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