Sunday, August 5, 2001


Princess Kaiulani Elmentary School first-grader Andrew Nilo, 6,
reads for Douglas Holl, a chief petty officer from the submarine
USS Louisville. Crew members from the Louisville and Chicago
have worked with students from more than six years.

in reading

The Navy extends its partnership
with the DOE under a new
textbook program


By Gregg K. Kakesako

FOR NEARLY FIVE YEARS, Navy Petty Officer David Blade has been spending his free time in Kalihi working with the students of Kaiulani Elementary School, and it even got him a turkey dinner.

"When I was first assigned to the Louisville, I didn't know anyone here," said Blade, an electronics technician on the Pearl Harbor-based nuclear submarine. "So Mrs. White invited me to her home for Thanksgiving."

The submariners from the USS Louisville and the USS Chicago have had a partnership with the Kalihi elementary school for more than six years, said Principal Charlotte White, where the sailors have spent their spare time fixing up the school and tutoring the kids.

"In return, our fifth-graders have even gotten to tour the sub," she added.

Last week, the partnership moved up another step under a cooperative effort pushed by Adm. Dennis Blair, Pacific Forces commander, and the Department of Education. Under a program called Joint Venture Education Forum, Blair presented the Department of Education with $288,000, matched by $148,000 in state funds, to purchase new reading textbooks.

BLAIR SAID THE MONEY not only buys books for 14,000 children, "it's truly about the Armed Forces putting its money toward a high priority -- showing we're good neighbors, with a focus on the education of children in Hawaii, military and civilian alike."

Last week, Blade and several of his Louisville shipmates were at Kaiulani to initiate the new reading program with the first-graders taught by Phyllis Miyashiro.

Fourteen of them met with the Louisville sailors and other members of Blair's command in one of Kaiulani's 12 air-conditioned classrooms.

Six-year-old Andrew Nilo wasted no time in picking out a book and sought the help of Chief Petty Officer Douglas Holl.

Pursing his lips, Andrew worked his way through the reader, using his forefinger to help him along.

"How long have you read this book?" Holl asked Andrew.

"Almost every day" was his quick reply.

Andrew told Holl that his father encourages him to read at least two books a day.

Miyashiro said Kaiulani's new textbooks cost $5,700 and will cover students from kindergarten through third grade.

WHITE ADDED WITH A CHUCKLE, "When you have a reading program that is almost as old their parents, you know it's time for a change."

Miyashiro described the reading program as a curriculum based on phonemic awareness, which she described as the ability to hear sounds in a word and then take the same sound to make other words.

"It's no longer 'Dick and Jane see Spot run,'" White added. "It's part literature, part phonetics ... This is state of the art."

Miyashiro, who has been teaching for the past 13 years, said the new curriculum isn't just reading, but also encompasses language arts, spelling, writing, oral communication and handwriting.

"It even touches other areas such as science."

Cmdr. Jeff Spencer, the Pacific Command's Hawaii schools officer, pointed out that for the last two years the military has spent $10 million on island schools

"In the past two years, the money was mainly spent on repair and maintenance through the Army Corps of Engineers," Spencer said.

The money also went to schools that had a predominant military population.

Twenty-seven schools were helped through the military's repair and maintenance program, Spencer said.

"Now with this new program, we hope to go out to 50 schools and do other things equally important, such as getting new textbooks," Spencer added. "We also are now involved with schools on Hawaii, Kauai, Maui and Molokai."

The military says that the new textbook program will cover 11 neighbor island schools and 39 on Oahu, involving 14,400 elementary-age children.

But for sailors like Blade, the rewards are simple.

"I have fun watching them learn," said the Pearl Harbor sailor, who has tutored numerous students over the past 4-1/2 years. "When I see it on their faces, it makes me feel good."

Petty Officer Shannon Boone added that before the Louisville went out on its six-month Western Pacific deployment last year, he would come to the school every Friday to help paint and clean up the campus.

"I just like coming down here and working with the kids," said the sonar technician.

Gregg K. Kakesako can be reached by phone at 294-4075
or by e-mail at

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