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UH Manoa College of Education to Graduate Third Cohort in Master's Program with Middle Level Emphasis

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Paul D. Deering, (808) 956-9993
Associate Professor
Kristen Cabral, (808) 956-5039
Public Information Officer
Posted: May 28, 2002

The Masters of Education in Secondary Education with a Middle Level Emphasis Program (MLMED) in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa‘s College of Education will be graduating its third cohort of participants in Summer 2002. This will bring the total number of MLMED graduates to nearly 100 since the program began in 1996. The program is developing a solid, local knowledge base, and leadership cadre in middle level education, which includes grades five through nine.

Students in the middle grades are known as "early adolescents" and undergo the upheavals of puberty while trying to navigate school. These 10- to 15-year-olds face tremendous change in all areas—physical, emotional, moral, and intellectual. Many youngsters encounter great difficulty dealing with the increasingly complex demands of this age, though most do quite well. Recent research indicates that providing a structured, nurturing, highly personal school environment, and making learning a very active and collaborative process can help adolescents develop in a healthy manner, and learn far more than in traditional, impersonal, teacher-centered schools.

"Hawaiʻi schools, both public and private, have been trying to implement developmentally-appropriate middle level education approaches since the late 1980s. However, until the MLMED program began, there was no education program in the state that focused on early adolescents and their teachers, and this remains the only such program," explains Dr. Paul Deering, associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies.

MLMED participants work full-time in middle level schools, most as teachers, and complete the program in two years by taking classes in the evenings and during summers. Besides learning how to teach early adolescents more effectively, participants are also required to step forward as leaders in their schools and beyond.

In 2001, the Department of Education adopted the Middle Level Education Policy that mandates research-based, developmentally-appropriate school practice in the middle grades. MLMED participants have taken on a remarkable degree of leadership in moving the state and the nation forward in improving the education of early adolescents; for example:

· Seven MLMED graduates teach at the college level.

· 10 MLMED participants have served on the Hawaiʻi Association of Middle Schools (HAMS) board.

· Six MLMED participants have been nominated as HAMS C.W. Stevens Educators of the Year.

· Over 20 MLMED participants have presented at national or international conferences.

· Half-a-dozen MLMED participants have served in their schools as acting administrators or counselors.

Other notable accomplishments of MLMED participants include:

· Dayni Kawamoto, Wilbert Lum, Tracy Oshiro, Ellen Owens, Lee Takagi, Sandie Yamada, and Michelle Frisbie of MLMED Cohort One and teachers at Central Middle School, helped lead school improvement initiatives that contributed to the school being named one of Frito-Lay of Hawaiʻi‘s Outstanding Public Schools for 2001-2002.

· Wanda Harris of MLMED Cohort Two and a teacher at Lanikai Elementary School, won the International Cyber Fair Competition in 1999 and 2000 with her sixth grade students and Consultant Lauren Apiki for their websites displaying research on local water resources.

· Carolyn Alameida of MLMED Cohort Three and a teacher at Mililani Middle School, published an article on her human body curriculum titled "Skeletons in Your Classroom" in the journal Science Scope.

The MLMED faculty come from a range of UH Mānoa departments such as Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies, Special Education, the Center on the Family, Family Resources, and the University Lab School. The program has a 92 percent completion rate, and accepts up to 20 percent of its applicants on "academic probation," and helps them to develop the skills needed to succeed in graduate school and to excel in the workplace. This has contributed to the program having nearly one-third of its participants from groups underrepresented in the state‘s teaching force—persons of Hawaiian, Filipino, and other Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander ancestry.

"As MLMED Cohort Three graduates this summer, and 30 plus participants in Cohort Four begin the program, a tradition of dedication to early adolescents will continue," says Deering. "More hard-working educational leaders will be advancing to the front lines in the state‘s move toward effective, developmentally-appropriate schools for early adolescents. The state‘s 10- to 15-year-olds and all its citizens, owe these dedicated educators a big thank you."