Carmielita A. MinamiCarmielita A. Minami
Waikele Elementary School
Leeward Oahu School District
Waipahu, Hawaii

A great challenge and significant accomplishment of Carmielita Minami’s current principalship has been helping her school make “the tough decision to be steadfast in the development of the whole child,” she says. The decision included setting aside Fridays for students to learn performing and visual arts despite pressures to focus more narrowly on core academic subjects. Yet the school has demonstrated it can provide a broad education and still excel academically. It achieved Adequate Yearly Progress for the past two years. As principal since 2004 of Waikele Elementary School, Minami has reshaped its culture to promote educational equity for all students. The rural school serves a Pre-K-6 population of 640. Nearly one-third of the students qualify for free or discounted school meals. Minami established inclusive classrooms in which students with differing achievement levels, abilities, English proficiency levels, and socioeconomic backgrounds learn together. Teachers work in teams to tailor instruction to each student’s needs. Minami also established a Head Start program at the school to ensure a high-quality learning environment for preschoolers with special needs. In 11 years as an elementary principal, Minami has led two schools. She has mentored many school leaders and assisted more than 400 teachers as they pursued training and advanced education to become school administrators. She earned a B.Ed. and an M.Ed. from the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.