A Gift of Hope and Expectation – Chris '67 and Monica Mamiya '77 McLaren
For Chris '67 and Monica Mamiya '77 McLaren, Punahou has shaped their lives in so many ways that the school is inextricably part of who they are. The two first met as teachers in the Junior School, where Monica taught first, second, fourth and fifth grade for 28 years and Chris taught fourth grade for 12 years. But they had already experienced Punahou as students, both entering in seventh grade.
"We both had this perspective of 'wow' when we came here from public schools," recalls Monica. "We were in awe at all the opportunities this place offered and, each in our own way, we feel we developed into the people we are today while at Punahou."
Monica and Chris at Kosasa Community.
But the connections don't end there. Chris had two siblings who attended Punahou, while Monica had seven, including sister Richelle Mamiya '75 Fujioka, who currently teaches in Case Middle School. Her parents, Richard and Hazel Mamiya, served as Trustees, and children Mollie '06 and Ty '11 attended Punahou from kindergarten through 12th grade.
We've experienced the magnitude of what Punahou can offer on so many levels," says Monica when explaining why she and Chris, celebrating their 40th and 50th Reunions this year, chose to take advantage of the Sidney and Minnie Kosasa Community Mauka to Makai Match and name a sustainable classroom studio.
"We know that since this community so significantly affected us, it can similarly affect others – whether you're a student, a teacher or a parent. The school has done so much for us as individuals, our children and our extended families, there's no doubt that this gift is born partially out of gratitude. But this gift also carries our hope, expectation and confidence that the School will continue to affect other people's lives the way it has affected ours. We know the good that can come into the world because of the Punahou experience."
Having taught primarily in grades 2 through 5, Monica and Chris have a deep appreciation for that time in a child's development. "The curiosity and the needs of second- through fifth-graders are unique, because they're growing into their own. They still need guidance and support, but they're ready to go out on a limb a little more and we need to let them," says Monica.
"The Kosasa Community allows them to have authentic experiences that can immediately show them why their learning is important. When you prime kids with challenges, give them the tools and coach them to meet those challenges, and then encourage the next question, you fuel a powerful cycle of personal and intellectual stimulation and fulfillment. And Kosasa is specifically designed to permit students and teachers to experience that."
The McLarens' confidence in Punahou's future stems partially from the School's commitment to be "a private school with a public purpose," which includes the responsibility of being an innovator that can raise the tides for educators everywhere. This, combined with Punahou's ability to stay true to its mission throughout changing times, is something Monica describes as, "This incredible balance that Punahou has been able to strike between always evolving and still representing something that alumni can be proud of. If at any time you hew to the affirmation of each individual, to a mission to provide the best opportunities for the charges in your care to grow, learn and be fulfilled – who can argue with that?"
For more information, including how you can participate in the Mauka to Makai Match in support of the Sidney and Minnie Kosasa Community, visit campaign.punahou.edu/kosasamatch.