NEW FACES | Kaiser Welcomes New Family Members

Kaiser High School welcomes new teachers and faculty members every year. Here is a look at those joining the Kaiser family for the 2018-2019 school year.

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Michael Viernes

Former marketing analyst and high school teacher in a variety of courses, Michael Viernes is Kaiser’s new vice principal, overseeing the freshman class and a portion of the sophomore class. Viernes joined our staff at the start of the school year, bringing with him his patience and his experiences in teaching keyboarding, computer programming, computer applications, AVID, and Kaiser’s Driver’s Education.

“So far, so good,” Viernes said of his new position. “I really enjoy working with the students here, [as well as] working with the administration and the faculty.”

Just like any educator, Viernes wants to help his students achieve success. Currently, he aims to focus his efforts on helping his ninth graders adjust to Kaiser, saying that he hopes to “[make] sure that they’re comfortable and that their transition is smooth through high school.” While working with his students, Viernes must also work with the school administration to make sure school events run smoothly.

Free time is a rarity in a life as busy as Viernes’, but he already knows what he’ll be doing the next time he gets it. “Flipping houses! That’s what I’d like to be doing,” he said. He recalls working with a contractor tocreate his first house on an empty plot of land. Nowadays, he is in the process of transforming a house for the second time. “I’m not the carpenter type, I don’t know how to use all the different tools, but I help out as much as I can,” Viernes said, addingthat he enjoys the do-it-yourself aspect to house flipping.

Aside from his love for construction, Viernes has spent time teaching at several other schools, and after his daughter graduated from Kaiser, he decided to become the new vice principal. “My daughter had a really good experience here,” said Viernes on his impression of Kaiser. “While I was teaching Driver’s Ed at Kaiser, I [talked] to a lot of kids, and their experiences here were very positive.”

Tara Morisato / Associate & News Editor | Hannah Mullen / Staff Writer

Mary Jen Bunyan

Kaiser’s special education program is fleshed-out and inclusive, with students being able to participate in physical activity, school functions, fieldtrips, and training for the pressures of real-world living after high school. Kaiser prides itself in having caring and patient special education staff, and with another year comes new students who enroll in our SPED (Special Education) program. Mary Jen Bunyan, a Kaiser alumni, honed her teaching skills for the last couple of decades, and is returning to Kaiser with big hopes as well as a big heart.

Bunyan is familiar with Kaiser and our community. “I was here from 1995 to 1999, and then I transferred,” Bunyan said. She spent 19 years inKorea, five years in Italy, and also taught as far as Guantanamo Bay and Okinawa.

Having so many years of experience has given Bunyan the specific skills she needs to become a stellar member of Kaiser’s SPED teaching staff.When asked what her favorite part of her job was, she said, “I enjoy watching [my students] understand things and seeing the joy of understanding when they succeed at something. Knowing individual needs, and wor king with their strengths so they can be enabled to achieve something …is quite rewarding.”

Being a part of the SPED teaching community has made Bunyan appreciate how Kaiser works. “I enjoy the environment,” she said. “Our schoolis diverse, and the students here are especially caring about our staff.”

Bunyan’s goals for this next chapter in her impressive teaching career are to get more technology and materials for the SPED classrooms (e.g. computers). Surely, Bunyan will accomplish much during her time here at Kaiser High School.

Courtney Staples / Staff Writer

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Mike Paquin

After serving twenty-six years in the US Air Force, Sergeant Mike Paquin is now ready for his newest line ofduty: educating the next generation of Kaiser’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC).

With Sergeant Shay’s departure, Paquin was offered a position here at Kaiser by Colonel Sykes. Viewing the vacant position as a chance to come to a new school, Paquin seized the opportunity. Prior to coming to Kaiser, Paquin taught at Kailua High School for seven years. There, he learned that sharing lifelong leadership skills with the growing youth was just as rewarding as serving tours of duty across the globe.

Delving into Paquin’s years prior to coming to Hawaii, he accumulated twenty years of experience whileserving in Italy, Japan, Korea, and Okinawa, with those years constituting one of the most memorable periodsin his life. Initially, working at various locations across the globe was not something that he had asked for. “I volunteered to come to Hawaii….but I didn’t know that when I volunteered for Hawaii, it volunteered me foreverywhere worldwide,” said Paquin. Although not assigned to Hawaii at first, Paquin took a leap of faith andwent abroad, ending up genuinely enjoying his experience overseas.

Thankful for the opportunities he received in the US Air Force, Paquin wants to ensure that his students are also provided with opportunities. He strongly believes that students should be “[getting] leadership education early on in high school,” as it provides them with “an advantage when they go out into the workforce.” Similar to the military, he said, “every organization needs to have followers andleaders,” and it would be in everyone’s best interest to participate in leadership-building opportunities or programs, be it JROTC or other activities.

Jaron Schreiber / Online Editor | Deborah Yuan / Co-editor In Chief

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Kayla Cintron

Home is where the heart is, and Kayla Cintron discovered hers within the world of technology. Cintron haslived in North Carolina, Florida, and Hawaii, but no matter where she goes, computers and coding are alwayson her mind.

Taking the open offer at Kaiser for DPUST (Data Processor/User Support Technician) was a no-brainer, since Cintron has always been interested in computer science. “When I was in middle school, my mom got us a brand new compact desktop computer…once it got old, it would run slow, and I would always tinker around with it. I would take it apart and put it back together,” said Cintron. Later, Cintron worked in computer science as a side-job, before discovering it was her true passion.

Part of the reason she chose to stay in Hawaii, despite her family moving back to North Carolina, was due to the opening for the DPUST position at Kaiser, a position not available to her when she lived in North Carolinaand Florida. This job gives Cintron freedom to work around her own schedule, something she couldn’t do with other positions. Before coming to Kaiser, she worked as a technology support employee for both Hickam Ele- mentary and Hickam Military Base.

Cintron feels at home in Hawai’i, even though she has only lived here for a short time. The new job allows her to experience a different side ofthe island and meet new people. She loves the opportunities and the aloha spirit she has discovered at Kaiser. Getting involved with the com-munity and working with different people make her confident that Hawaii is a wonderful place to live as well as make her appreciate Hawaii even more. She also enjoys helping others work through their problems, no matter how simple they may be. Now, Cintron not only has a job she feelscomfortable with, but also, a home.

Jaida Burgon / Staff Writer | Nicole Iwamasa / Features Editor

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Robyn Matsumiya

With sixteen and a half years of experience working in the Department of Education, Kaiser High Schoolalumni, Robyn Matsumiya, is a perfect fit as the new School Administrative Secretarial Assistant (SASA).

After attending Kaiser High School and living in Hawaii for most of her life, Matsumiya feels right at home working here. “Looking back at my experiences at Kaiser, I want students to know that they are blessed to go to such a good school,” Matsumiya said. Although Matsumiya just started her position this year, she is enthusi- astic and already loves her job. Helping the faculty and students, as well as keeping them around and getting to better know the faculty, Matsumiya said, are her top goals and what she is looking forward to this year.

Outside of work, Matsumiya enjoys spending time with her children. A self-described island girl, Matsum-iya’s hobbies are fishing and dancing hula. Matsumiya’s love of fishing is so strong that her most significant memory involves catching her first papio in Kahuku. Her favorite place to hang out on the island is a little hole in the wall called Okata Bento, located in Kaimuki.

Although Matsumiya knows that they’ve been said many times before, her words of advice to students are to “study hard, be respectful to adults, and to respect one another”. Most importantly, Matsumiya wants stu-dents to believe in themselves. “Once you do, you will be able to start doing more things,” she said.

Morgan Ku & Yuuki Morishige / Staff Writers

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Rene Tottori

A Kaiser alumna, Tottori was born and raised in Hawaii. She began her career as a counselor at McKinley, but left after four years to focus on her family. Thirteen years later, she decided to return to the workplace as a ninth grade counselor at Kaiser High.

A welcoming attitude from faculty, staff, and the community has already made Tottori feel at home. “[Kai-ser’s] a good school, and I find that the other counselors, administrators, and teachers are very helpful and supportive,” said Tottori. “I’m still trying to find my way here, and I really appreciate [them].”

Tottori’s proactive approach to helping children stems from early work in judiciary court, specializing in cases regarding both families and adults. Assisting the youth gave her a sense of responsibility and provided opportunities to change someone’s life for the better. “I felt when I worked with the juvenile clients, it was more hopeful and helpful if I could do something,” said Tottori.

As a counselor, empathy and listening skills are a must to be effective at the job, and Tottori says due to herjob in judiciary court, that’s her forte. “A good internal compass helps students find their ways,” said Tottori.

“Students need someone who’s strong enough to tell them when they’re doing something unsafe.” While she understands the job comes with challenges, Tottori is committed to working through issues to be there for the students. She finds

the most frustrating part of being a counselor is when she can’t help a student enough. “I think some students need more support than they have, and a counselor can offer some support but not be the end-all,” said Tottori. “I want students to know that I’m someone they can come and see: a safe person [for them],” said Tottori. “I’m someone [students] can rely on when they need me.”

Anna Lee & Casey Nguyen / Staff Writers

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Ashley Wolstein

The idea of sunshine and gentle breezes year-round draws people to Hawaii from all over the world, includ-ing Ashley Wolstein, Kaiser’s new Middle Years Program (MYP) coordinator. “It was in October, my car was frozen to the ground, and there was like three or four feet of snow. I went home, flipped open the newspaper, and it was 80 degrees in Honolulu, and I was like, ‘I want to move there for a couple years!,” said Wolstein.

Born and raised in Michigan, Wolstein moved to Hawaii in 2007. As she taught at Hawaiian culture-based institutions, such as Hakipu‘u Learning Center and Halau Ku Mana Public Charter School, she became im-mersed in the Hawaiian culture, even gaining the moniker “Kumu Ashley” from her students. Having always been an outdoors person, as she has loved to bike, rollerblade and play basketball ever since she was a child, the emphasis Hawaiian culture places on self-awareness of one’s environment resonated deeply with Wolstein. “It just makes sense to me…[on] the mainland, a lot of people don’t understand that the world is intercon-nected…. There’s an ‘Olelo No‘eau1, ‘he wa‘a he moku, he moku he wa‘a,’ roughly meaning, ‘We all share one planet,’” said Wolstein.

Her views on environmental connectivity tie to her interest in global interconnectivity: the main reasonwhy Wolstein came to Kaiser was for the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. As the new MYP coordinator, Wolstein plans on enhancing the MYP personal project by integrating purpose-based education and social-emotional learning, as well as increasing the number of interdisciplinary courses on campus.

While Wolstein’s hometown may be over 4,000 miles away, Hawai‘i’s rich and vibrant culture has helped her find a home here on O‘ahu. “I may have came for the weather, but…the island culture…is why I’ve stayed so long.”

Chelsea Chang & Haley Leander / Staff Writers

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Dennis Kelley

Kaiser is bustling with hundreds of new freshmen students, but they aren’t the only ones learning how to navi-gate the school. Several new teachers have also found their way to Kaiser High School, including first year teacherDennis Kelley.

Dennis Kelley is a new SPED (Special Education) math and science teacher at Kaiser High School. Althoughthis is his first year as a full time teacher, Kelley has ample experience teaching summer school. He also has special education experience in the school setting working as an education assistant (E.A.) and working at day facilities foradults with special needs.

Kelley says that working in the classroom has had its ups and downs. While he enjoys teaching, it can be chal- lenging at times. “I try to highlight [the] good things, and then call on negative behaviors or wrong answers indi-rectly,” he said when asked about his personal philosophy for dealing with challenges in the classroom.

Kelley has always imagined himself being a teacher. “Pretty much ever since I got into college, [I thought about
being a teacher because I] think it’s a really good profession,” he said. However, Kelley didn’t expect to become a math/science teacher since he has a degree in special education. “When I saw an opening for special education math and science, I took it,” he said.

Kelley isn’t just new to teaching, he’s also new to the state. “I actually moved here a month ago from Massachusetts for a job and a change of scenery,” he said. While his move brought him away from his hometown, it brought him closer to his new home in Honolulu, where he is connect-ing with more students at Kaiser, and enjoying new hobbies outside of the school setting. “I tried surfing and I like it,” he said, noting that he would have never tried surfing if he didn’t move to Hawaii. “I think I’ll get a board pretty soon.”

Leight Farah / Sports Editor | Madeleine San / Staff Writer

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George Bratakos

George Bratakos, who moved here from Kauai, is one of Kaiser’s newest additions to the faculty. Bratakos has been a teacher for 10 years. “I was at Kauai High School for the last three years full time … and I was a sub-stitute teacher around [the] island,” he said. Bratakos considers his college graduation at the University of Hawaii to be one of his most memorable experiences, as it was at that moment that he decided to become a teacher.

Bratakos values hard work and diligence, two values he upholds for both himself and his students. “My per-sonal philosophy is you gotta keep trying. If it’s challenging, you gotta work past that.” Bratakos adopted these values from his 83-year-old father, who still works as a construction engineer. “I have seen my dad work super hard all of his life. He’s from Greece, and he immigrated to the United States,” Bratakos said. “I figured if somebody older than me can keep at it and be a hard worker, I can do it too.”

The work ethic his father instilled in him is evident in Bratakos’ care for his students. Despite the challenges that come with adjusting to a new school environment, Bratakos is determined to provide the best possible education for them. “I want students to be confident about communicating in Spanish. I’m trying to get caught up with my work from the previous teacher, and that’s taken a bit of time, but the administrators and teachers have been friendly and helpful,” he said.“And the students have been really great.”

When asked what he wants to be remembered for, Bratakos replied, “Being a hard worker and having really good hair.” The good hair is a no-brainer, and Bratakos’ determination and desire to help his students succeed will certainly be remembered.

Aja Murillo / Staff Writer | Eui Jin Song / Associate & Editorials Editor

Featured Image Courtesy of Kaiser High School Hawaii

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