Parent  & Student Testimonials

Testimonial from a current elementary and middle school parent: 

Hoʻāla School has played a significant role in our children’s education and development since we discovered it in 2018. The emphasis on encouraging and supporting each student’s social-emotional skills and well-being while establishing positive relationships in addition to the focus on academics was influential in our decision of immediately transitioning one of our children, who had been experiencing bullying at school, to Hoʻāla mid-year.

We watched as our child, who had cried every day for the first half of the school year at her previous school, became eager to wake up and get ready for a new school day at Hoʻāla. The support our child received from the staff and other students in helping her adjust to feel safe and welcomed in her new environment was astounding. The added effort by the head of school, administrative staff, and her kindergarten teacher in continuing to reassure our child that her safety and happiness were important aided in her personal growth. She developed connections with the other students, showed interest in extracurricular activities, and ended the year with straight A’s and a newfound love for school. By the end of that school year, we were certain that Hoʻāla School would be a good fit for all four of our children.

Our oldest child started 8th grade, our youngest started kindergarten, and our middle children started 4th grade and 1st grade at Hoʻāla that following school year. We were able to get an oversight of the school at each grade level, and it was evident that we made the right decision for our children. Academically, our children’s reading and comprehension levels improved, and their understanding of math concepts notably progressed. They were all learning a second language at school and were involved in the art and drama programs. Socially, they learned to better connect with each other and those around them through efficient communication and active listening. They found confidence in speaking up and recognizing that their voices mattered, not only at home, but also at school. They were held accountable for their choices and took responsibility for their actions.

The more we learned about the school, the more invested we became as parents. The foundation of what each student is taught at Hoʻāla provides them with life skills that can lead to a happy and full life. This is important for each child’s growth in gaining the confidence and independence that so many of us lack, even as adults. The parenting workshops offered at Hoʻāla helped us bridge the gap between home and school and created a more consistent environment for our children to learn in. It gave us an outlet to ask questions and consider new approaches to some of the struggles that come with parenting. We also heard from other parents and were able to build connections from sharing our stories. Having that time to discuss and learn with other parents proved beneficial in becoming better parents for our children.

We feel assured sending our children to school every day, because at Hoʻāla, we know that our children are in a safe space where they are valued and also taught to value others. They are gaining an education that will open doors to their future while developing the social-emotional skills of being kind and caring individuals. It’s true that it takes a village to raise a child, and we’re grateful to have found that village at Hoʻāla.

-Jimmy & Kelley Fellers

Tyler and Sarah

Testimonial from a current elementary parent: 

Many thanks to everyone at Ho’ala School who helped our son nurture his love for learning.

Ho‘ala School provides an environment that allows for amazing kindness and humility to grow in its students. The warm, nurturing, and academic environment has transformed our son into an eager and successful student. The school has exceeded our expectations in his development as a learner. It is a privilege to know that our child is part of the Ho’ala Ohana.

Ho‘ala School’s curriculum is both innovative and supportive. The faculty, staff, and administration are deeply caring, compassionate, and highly experienced role models committed to supporting each student as an individual. Each of them has their own ability to address a child’s area of academic need while continuing to cultivate a child’s inner strengths and abilities. As parents, we appreciate their willingness to share those qualities with our son and to encourage him to reach higher, strive for his personal best, and care about others. Their small class sizes really allow the teachers to focus on each student’s determination and challenges.  We also love that our son sees himself as a vital part of our school, local, and world communities.

Ho’ala has boosted our son’s self-confidence from his first day in kindergarten. From the moment he walked onto the campus, our son has been welcomed with open arms in a comfortable place that encourages him to be himself. There are lots of opportunities for social growth that our son has participated in through afterschool enrichment classes, community service, school gatherings, and fundraisers that make it a true school family experience.

Ho’ala school truly embraces the entire child socially and academically. Thank you for providing a strong foundation for his education for years to come. We cannot recommend Ho’ala School highly enough!


Ken and Gail 

Testimonial from a former military student: 

I never really know where to start when telling a story, so I guess I'll start from the pre-Ho'ala experience.
When I was a kid, I'd always felt a little detached and didn't really know why. By early middle school I'd started showing signs of severe depressive disorders, predominantly a catatonic state during episodes. I had been underperforming so severely at my previous school that I almost had to repeat 7th Grade. Thankfully, I was able to avoid it (just barely) and decided I should switch schools and find a new environment.
I was lucky to be accepted into Ho'ala, and even luckier to find one of my neighbors was attending as well--it made for a less rocky transition. Although when I first came to the school, I was a problem child, I found myself flourishing over the two years I'd spent with the school. I'd forged deep, meaningful relationships with my small classrooms and my gracious teachers. There was a sense of community at Ho'ala unlike anything I'd ever been a part of before, and I attribute it to the environment the faculty tried to set up for all of us.

I was at Ho'ala for 8th and 9th grade, so I got to see the gear switch between middle school and high school. Looking back on it, the curriculum for high school was definitely tougher but was structured in just the right way to introduce new ideas, new responsibilities, and inklings of adulthood.  Getting in touch with the land and the restorative acts during our service trips we were able to partake in, actually were foundational in finding my religion as well.

I wish I could have stayed with the school until I'd graduated--when your parents are military there's not much you can do about moving--but I'm so eternally grateful for the time I was able to spend with all of you. I think about how formative those years are for any developing child and how much they meant to me, and still mean to me.

Since leaving Ho'ala, I've taken the lessons I've learned with me everywhere I go. I took the spirit with me across the entire country and made it a mission to treat people with dignity, kindness, and agency.
Towards the end of my high school career, I found myself in a slump again, and for a few months tried to decide what the best course of action would be in the encroaching adulthood years. Tina Markel, Betty Martin, and Jennifer Lynn (while she was there) all spoke to me aside at least once and deeply encouraged me to pursue my writing and the artistic talent they all saw in me. Ho'ala was where I first sang in front of a crowd. Ho'ala was where I first demonstrated my writing. Ho'ala was where I first got on stage. Ho'ala was my awakening. I listened to them, and made my choice.
I applied for the American Musical and Dramatic Academy of the Performing Arts (AMDA), and auditioned less than two months later. I was accepted. Since acceptance, I've spent two years in New York City and finished up the program in Los Angeles to acquire a Bachelor's in Fine Arts. Throughout this entire experience, and to this day and beyond, I've chosen to treat people with the dignity, agency, and deep respect that I was granted at Ho'ala. It has not failed me.
Around the start of college, my illness finally caught up with me, and while I was able to turn it around at the last second and start medication, I know in my heart that if it weren't for the development I found at Ho'ala that it would have caught me sooner and severely. I am eternally thankful for the experience I had with this school, and if it weren't for plane tickets, I'd drop in more often and let all of you know it.Currently, I'm happily living in Los Angeles, California and am employed with Universal Studios Hollywood in a retail position. I have directed two shows with local companies, have helped produced/direct a show, and have performed in three. I've got a partner, a cat, and a roommate and life has been good to me. Nothing is impossible, but the road is usually long and winding. Thank you all for giving me the courage to take the steps down it.

Cooper Knight

Testimonial from a current elementary parent:  

I chose Hoala School for my son in Kindergarten based on the family feel of the admissions process and faculty interactions. I was looking for a school that was near the community where our family had lived for generations. It was important to me that he make friends within the surrounding neighborhoods.

The small class sizes at Hoala allow for the education to be tailored to individual students’ needs. No two students learn in exactly the same way and the team of elementary teachers is flexible, accommodating, and able work with families to provide learning strategies and experiences that best fit each child. In addition to the academic learning, my child has had countless opportunities to be a leader and important contributor to the class and school. He understands that his voice and opinion matters, he values being helpful and supporting teachers and other students, and he has developed a sense of belonging, knowing he is important within the school community.

The students also get to participate in the larger community in ways that other schools may not be able to. This includes weekly trips to the farmers’ market to purchase produce for their families, visiting and renting books from the public library, participating in community parades, and taking a serious approach to providing service to community organizations and neighboring businesses.

What is most important for me and what keeps us choosing Hoala school every year is how excited he is to go to school every day. He enthusiastically shares his day when he comes home reporting on what he did that day in class, how much enjoyed playing with the young kindergarteners, or what cool thing the older kids shared with him. When I see him at school he is calm, relaxed, and self-assured. The mutual respect between adults, the principal, teachers, and students is observable. Over the years he’s attended, he has made wonderful friends and has had heartwarming experiences that are exactly what I envisioned for his childhood.

What Ho`ala offers is rare and hard to find, a unique experience, a caring and understanding community, a team of respectful teachers and staff that are excellent role models, and a place that can provide him cherished childhood memories. Ultimately the program and staff are providing experiences that will prepare him to be an adult that can effectively collaborate and communicate with others and confidently navigate the future world and environment.

Testimonial from a current Kindergarten parent: 

The teachers and administrators are very nurturing and loving to the children, while also providing wonderful structure and guidance. The level of enthusiasm that they display, and the respect they hold for all the students and parents is phenomenal. I am happy that my child is in a safe environment, that allows her to grow, play, and learn. The small class size and individualized attention the teachers provide to the students is a sight to see, and it is wonderful to see them use differentiation in instruction based on the students' levels. It is obvious that my child is truly thriving here at Ho`ala School, as she is so excited and happy to go to school every day.  We will forever be grateful for the endless love, support, and dedication that the entire staff has shown to my daughter in her first year here. I am enthusiastic and optimistic that she will continue to thrive and blossom in the coming years.

Testimonial from a parent of a Ho`ala graduate:

We would like to express our gratitude for the excellent education our daughter Sarah received at Ho`ala School. Sarah attended Ho`ala School from the sixth through twelfth grade. The intimate size of the school helps to foster individual attention and creates a family atmosphere which is highly conducive to academic and personal growth.  Sarah was a shy girl entering your school, but with the help of dedicated and caring teachers, such as Maggie Pulver, Tina Markel and Nathan Radzak, her confidence and self esteem grew tremendously. 

Sarah enjoyed being a Teacher's Assistant in the Kindergarten class as well as in the Science Club. She was a dedicated member of the Prom and Graduation Committees and served as President and Vice President (in the student council.)   Sarah's interest in music grew with many years of piano lessons and recitals with teacher Keiko Poarch.  Sarah was also very enthusiastic about art and drama classes and was encouraged and mentored by teacher Tina Markel.  These classes helped to give Sarah a creative outlet in which to express herself and become more confident.  The many service learning projects and outer island trips offered by Ho`ala are most treasured memories because she truly enjoyed making a difference in the community and helped to build true friendships with fellow students and teachers.  The sense of Ohana (family) is very present at Ho`ala and that is what makes it truly unique.  We believe Sarah will continue with her community service in the future and we thank Ho`ala for giving her a great foundation and for fostering this passion.

Sarah will be attending the University of New Hampshire in the fall majoring in Biology and has received the Dean's Scholarship for academic excellence.  We are very proud of her and thankful to teachers, Nathan Radzak and Maggie Pulver for their diligent efforts in preparing her for college and for being her mentors.  We will always be grateful for your time and friendship you so willingly shared with Sarah.

Sarah will be leaving the world she knew as a member of the Ho`ala Ohana and will be venturing off to campus life on the East Coast, but she will take with her the many valuable lessons and values that she learned at Ho`ala School and we believe she will make a difference.

Carlo and Patricial Balmilero

From a new 4th Grade student:

I love my new school! I have lots of friends. I'm learning lots of new things and I love having two recesses!!  I've got new teachers I love. I've never been to a school this great!

Testimonial from a former parent of two Ho`ala students:

I am most grateful for the education that our children and I have received from Ho'ala School. Our son, now in his second year at Creighton University receiving two of their merit scholarships, aspires to become a medical doctor. He spent his Fall break building a house with the Habitat for Humanity. Our daughter, now in her senior year and carrying a 4.0 gpa, aspires to become a veterinarian. Myself, as a mother from Ho'ala's parenting class and more importantly cookie bake, pumpkin carving and gingerbread house family events... benefited first hand from the values of raising children committed to "personal responsibility", family and community service. We have never had to sit down with our children to help them with their homework. Sister Joan forbade it. It was their work, not ours. Ho'ala has elevated "personal responsibility" in their curriculum for student, teacher and parenting success. Our children have become extraordinary students because they have come from this extraordinary school!
The Ho'ala parenting class encouraged us by admitting that there are no "how-to" books on personal responsibility. We were empowered with the skills to raise children who are awake, conscious, responsible, and resourceful citizens of our community. From this small Wahiawa private school, where cooperation means more than competition, and listening and clearing are skills actually taught and valued, I believe that the leaders of the world will spring.

Imua Kakou! Reiko Taba

Testimonial from a graduate's parent to Art Teacher Tina Markel:

As you already know about my feelings as to the incredible positive influence you have played in the life of my dear son, this is to simply, and briefly, put my thanks into words. I know that every student at Ho'ala could be saying the same things to you, for your connection to each one of them, your gentle, loving, patient touch upon each one of them in a most personal and caring, and role-modeling manner has been,and is, simply inspirational.
Your ability, and willingness, to truly look at each person, at who they are, and what their potential is, and to then encourage and nurture that potential like a seed to be sprouted, exemplifies a deeply giving and evolved spirit.
I have rarely, if ever, seen this degree of selfless caring given and displayed in my time by any teacher at any level, and please know that every student and every teacher is benefiting as a result of their association with you.
Your words at the graduation, your poetic and insightful interpretation of each one of the graduates, displayed a real knowledge of them, and of a way of presenting things such that the words could be received by them.
I am also aware that you desire no accolades, and am quite sure you are just a bit uncomfortable with these words, but true they are, and sometimes things need to be acknowledged.  Thank you Tina. (Art Teacher)

Aloha a hui ho, Tom Powell

Testimonial from a elementary parent:

Thank you so much.  There are so many reasons Ho'ala is such a wonderful school.  There is no way public school would do this for me.  I was so thrilled with my daughter's report card.  She is doing so well.  Amazing.  Not only is she enjoying Ho`ala, she is doing well academically also, Ho`ala has been a godsend to our family. It’s amazing how your school has changed our daughter’s life around. Life is 180 degree turn around for her.  I can't imagine her being that girl who used to bite herself until she was bruised..because she was so stressed at her old school.
Thank you and all the others there for rescuing her.  Thank you so much for your support. If you ever stop and wonder if Ho'ala is making an impact.... you all are.

Mahalo, Pat Simmons




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