We met Jackie Akuna, Ag teacher at Leilehua High School (LHS), my old alma mater. She is only 25 years old and this is her first year teaching the class. She already has a Master’s Degree and really loves what she does. You can tell just by being with her. She also is a graduate of LHS and had a great mentor in her teacher, Russell Wong.
Jackie’s class enrollment is large and growing due to her enthusiasm. Her program is a Learning Center, just like Derek Chow’s over at Campbell High School. This Learning Center is one of ten in the state.
Her class does all kinds of things – animal husbandry, pigs, geese, rabbits, chickens, as well as grow taro, vegetables, corn, lettuce. They have a certified kitchen, so they do some cooking to eat what they grow. Once a pig is slaughtered, the students learn how to dress the pig, and they kalua it in the imu or make smoked meat. The class makes its own compost and hardly wastes a thing.
Jackie also leads the Future Farmers of America Club. They recently competed in the States and did very well. Even I cannot do some of the things the kids had to do, like identify dozens of vegetables by genus and species and grade them 1, 2, and 3.
You can tell that her kids have taken to her. Teachers like her are committed and they have a true love and passion for the kids and what they do. You may be hearing more about this program here in my blog.