Haven Botelho, 11, works on a weed eater as part of the mentorship program in Kohala. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
From left, Dylan Torres-Salvador, 13 and Moses Kobayashi, 13, work with mentor Mikey Salvador as they work on a broken lawnmower. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Sarah Kobayashi teaches a cooking class as part of the mentorship program. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Nainoa Carvalho, an eighth grader at Kohala Middle School, harvests lettuce. Natural farming and gardening are skills taught in the mentorship program. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
It’s a Thursday afternoon in Kapa’au, and six boys are working to fix various garden machines. One pair works on taking apart a lawn mower, another two are examining a weed eater and the last two boys have just completed working on a blower.
Jaymeson Makio-Salis starts the blower, and it is working perfectly. He and his buddy, Tayvon Santiago smile at their success, explaining that the lines to the carburetor were blocked.
“Anything we don’t know, we ask,” Makio-Salis said, standing below a sign.
“This is fun,” Santiago adds. “A lot of people should try it.”
The boys belong to a yearlong mentoring program called Ka Hana Noe’au, one of the projects under the Partners In Development (PID) Foundation. The mentoring program, overseen by Program Director David Fuertes, serves youth in the Kohala Middle and High Schools. Recently, it expanded to Honokaa and Konawaena Schools, and now helps 125 students in North Hawaii.
“Our first generation of mentees are going to college now,” Fuertes said. “They come back and tell us that being in the program has been a great experience.”
Now in its seventh year, the program currently offers several unique skills the youth can learn over the school year; ukulele making, taro cultivation, natural farming, culinary arts, graphic arts, small engine repair and Hawaiian saddle making. Much of the program focuses on teaching Hawaiian values throughout the process.
Michael Salvador is the mentor for the small engine repair class, and oversees seven students this year. The kids meet in his backyard and for three hours, are taught safety skills, regular machine maintenance and troubleshooting for repairs.
“I give them instructions and leave them to figure things out, until they get into a bind,” Salvador said. “The kids like the hands-on work, and I assign them to different projects.”
At the end of each session, students fill out “mentee worksheets” that helps focus the day’s learning and helps students discover how the new skill ties to math, science or reading.
“This worksheet not only helps the mentee to reflect on what is learned, but helps with literacy,” said Salvador. “And it is also how we measure their growth.”
Salvador’s involvement as a mentor takes at least five hours out of his work week. But he said he enjoys the process of teaching the youth, and also seeing the older mentees helping out the younger ones when they have questions.
In the culinary arts session, mentor Billie Brown calls herself a facilitator. She likes to bring in “guest chefs” to show the kids different styles of cooking. The kitchen in the Kohala Intergenerational Center is home to the class, this time, five students surround the metal island and watch as Sarah Kobayashi mixes ingredients for a Thai coconut tom yum soup.
“We document everything,” Brown said, while taking photos of the students cutting vegetables at the table. “At the end of the year, we put together a book of all the recipes learned and give it to the mentees.”
Michelle Sahagun is a senior at Kohala High, and this is her second year in the culinary arts program. She said she has learned how to hold the kitchen knife properly, and how to cut away from the body.
“I’m learning a lot here, so when I’m hungry, I can cook for myself,” said her sister Melanie Sahagun, a ninth grader.
Leslie Hayes-Cullins, who is in her first year of mentoring in graphic arts, is one on of the many community members that helps students focus their dreams and who works to keep them on track for their future in the critical years.
“I was involved with the program as a support person, but now as a mentor, it is one of the hardest things I’ve done,” Hayes-Cullins explained. “There are so many benefits to it, and lots of things I see. One of the benefits is seeing shy students step up to volunteer, or do fundraising.”
In her curriculum this year, Hayes-Cullins is teaching her mentees how to put together a video game, and they will also complete an “anti-meth” video ad to enter into the HMSA video contest.
“This program rocks!” said Anaiyah Tabiolo, a seventh grader. “It’s cool that we get to make our own video, and I’d go to school for it (in the future.)”
One of the programs supported by Ka Hana Noe’au is AVID, an acronym for Advancement Via Individual Determination. AVID helps sixth through 12th grade students learn skills in note taking (Cornell notes), organization and builds their confidence in learning and writing.
“Mastery of learning is when the instructor talks, demonstrates and the student demonstrates back to the teacher,” Fuertes said. “Then that students teaches someone else, and they retain their learning when they teach others.”
For more information on Ka Hana Noe’au, call 884-5838 or visit www.pidfoundation.org.