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Honoring an educator

When Small World Preschool in Waimea lost one of their much-loved founders to cancer this past September, the staff searched for a proper way to honor her.

“Miss” Natlee Oshiro was a 35-year educator who taught more than 600 students throughout her time at the school, leaving a positive mark on generations of students for her kind, loving personality and her commitment to high academic standards.

The team easily settled on an idea she most certainly would have loved – a scholarship in her name where a worthy student or two in need would have the opportunity to receive a Small World Preschool education.

On April 6, the school will hold the Miss Natlee Memorial Scholarship and Financial Aid Golf Challenge Fundraiser at the Hapuna Prince Resort. The proceeds will go to help students who need it most.

“It was important to keep her memory going,” said Barbara Ozaki, one of the founding staff members of Small World Preschool. “We thought that this way, we can always have a connection with her.”

“She invested so much into our preschool, that is one way for her to be remembered,” said Pier Schutte, also one of the schools founders. “For me, it is a remembrance – it helps to keep her vision of the school alive. But it also helps us to help others who would not otherwise be able to come here. That is one of the things (we can do) to be able to help others out there in the community. We know a lot of local families that cannot afford it.”

Natlee Kimura Oshiro was the daughter of Samuel and Ella Kimura. She was born in the hospital in Honokaa and raised in Waimea with her three sisters, Elsa, Faye and Teri. Their father, Samuel Oshiro, worked at Parker Ranch, and the three girls attended Hawaii Preparatory Academy – they have many family connections and lifelong friends in the area.

Natlee Kimura Oshiro’s main purpose in college was to return to Waimea after she earned her degree in education and to teach preschool students – building and solidifying their foundational education. Schutte said that, after Small World Preschool’s 35 years in the community, there are now many second-generation students attending the school.

“We want to be able to cater to their needs and to their children,” said Schutte. “When families get the scholarship, it is going to be remembered as the Miss Natlee Scholarship. She is not here physically, but she will still be able to touch lives.”

The Miss Natlee Memorial Scholarship and Financial Aid Golf Challenge Fundraiser begins on Sunday, April 6, at 7:30 a.m. with a back nine, shotgun start with a two-person, best ball format. Cost is $150 per person, $300 per team, includes lunch, and prizes. Call the school at 885-4388 for entry forms and information or to donate to the Miss Natlee Scholarship fund.