Members of the Castle Outreach program include, in the front row, Pam Punihaole, Lynn Higa and Sheila DeLuz, and in the back row, Tori Kaeo, left, instructor S. War, John Cusic, Lily Anne Souza and Bonnie Beckett.

Kona mom taps
college online

A Castle Foundation grant
allows students to work on
diplomas from Chaminade

As a working mother in Kona with two children, Lily Anne Souza didn't have many options for getting a four-year college degree.

Hilo and Manoa were too far away and she couldn't leave her family.

She got a community college degree in agriculture and began taking classes online and in Waimea through Chaminade University and its Castle Outreach program.

"This was one way of going to classes during the evenings and on weekends," Souza said. "Most of the time my family went with me."

She said she was still nursing her second child and took her along to classes.

The Castle Outreach program, which began six years ago with 12 students in Waimea, now has 45 students working toward bachelor's degrees in early education in Hilo, Maui and Kauai in addition to Waimea.

Chaminade recently received a $150,000 grant from The Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation and the Henry and Dorothy Memorial Fund that should enable the program to expand. The university will soon be able to connect teachers and neighbor island students through videoconferencing and a Web site to support online course work.

"There's a huge need for (early education courses)," said Al Castle, executive director of the foundation. He said the grant will help raise standards for early education teachers, especially in rural areas.

"Many of them were not being served or found it difficult to go to Honolulu for training," he said.

The grant will also establish the Castle Curriculum Resource Center and renovate office facilities on Chaminade's campus.

Chaminade associate professor Nanette Sheri Schonleber, who helped get a $45,000 Castle foundation grant to start the program, said its basis is in the Montessori teaching philosophy and it is aimed at people who want a degree and certificate in teaching children from pre-school to third grade.

Once they graduate, students can also apply for a license to teach in public schools.

Many of the students are already working with children in pre-schools and other settings and want to get a formal degree.

"It's not easy. It takes people who are really balanced," said Margaret Mize, director of the Castle Outreach programs. "Most are working already. They have families. They are often beyond the traditional college age. With this program they'll be able to find meaningful work in their homes and the places in the islands they are living in."

After graduating with honors, Souza now works as an interpreter at the Kaloko- Honokohau National Historic Park.

The degree helped make it possible, Souza said.

"They looked at that early education degree," she said.

"I didn't want to be in a traditional classroom. I wanted to be close to nature. I'm close to nature and I'm educating kids."


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --