Wai’alae is governed by a Governing School Board (GSB) charged with the responsibility of oversight for financial, organizational, and academic viability of our school and implementation of the Wai‘alae School Charter Contract. As a charter school, the GSB has the independent authority to determine the organization and management of the school, the curriculum, virtual education, and compliance with applicable federal and state laws. In many ways, the GSB sets the “what” (vision-aligned goals, direction, strategy, and policy), while the CEO and school leadership team determines and executes the “how” (operations, financial transactions, academic specifics pertaining to curriculum and pedagogy). The GSB also ensures that our school complies with the terms of the Wai‘alae School Charter Contract from the Hawai’i State Public Charter School Commission. As a governing body, the GSB conducts matters according to the GSB Bylaws and sets yearly goals which align with and support the school’s endeavors.
The Governing School Board meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month except June and December (unless otherwise noted). The meetings are held in person with a virtual option from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Meetings are open to the public, and an agenda with meeting link is posted on the GSB website page about a week prior to the meeting date. The minutes of each meeting are also posted, but only after they have been approved and accepted by the GSB. The Board also hosts an annual summer retreat for Wai’alae School leadership and Community Circle organizations (Governing School Board, Wai’alae School Foundation, and Friends of Wai’alae) to energize, connect and align strategic planning efforts in support of the school.
As a steering, strategic, and policy-making body, the Governing School Board ideally has a makeup that pulls from expertise in a variety of areas, including law, finance, business, human resources, community leadership and resources, academia, progressive and whole-child education, and more. GSB members serve two-year terms and volunteer between 4 and 10 hours per month, sharing their professional expertise by advising school leadership, long-term strategic planning, working in committees, and seeking community resources and opportunities for the school. GSB members must be reflective, life-long learners, and exemplars of Wai‘alae’s Vision Elements:
The Governing School Board (GSB) invites interested persons to apply to serve on a GSB Committee as non-GSB members (Education, Operations or Governance Committee). After a designated amount of time, committee members may be asked to join the GSB or they may remain on a committee.
Troy Ballard is a lifelong public educator, a champion of educational equity and excellence, and an attorney. A former public school teacher and higher education coordinator, Troy has extensive experience in culturally responsive teaching practices and strongly supports an educational framework that provides a whole-child education. Troy resonates closely with the mission and vision of Wai’alae School and views his role on the board as working to ensure these concepts and values are embodied within our community decision making processes. Troy attended the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa graduating with undergraduate degrees in both American Studies and Political Science. Afterwards, he attended the University of Pennsylvania graduating with a Master’s of Science in Urban Education. He additionally attended the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa’s William S. Richardson School of Law, graduating with a Certificate in Native Hawaiian Law and a research focus on educational equity and school desegregation. Troy currently serves as Post J.D. Fellow with Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law.
Kristen Brummel has 20 years of education experience in Hawai’i’s Department of Education as an Elementary Teacher, Mentor, Instructional Coach, Presenter, Complex Area Induction and Mentoring Program Coordinator, and Education Specialist in Teacher Leadership. She is a National Board Certified Teacher, a 2014-2016 Hawaii Hope Street Group Fellow and was the 2011 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year. Kristen has served on committees such as Hawaii’s Teacher Leader Workgroup, the Great Teachers Great Leaders Task Force, the Teacher Education Committee for Elementary and Early Childhood, and the University of Hawaii College of Education Alumni Association Board of Directors with the goals of learning from others and bringing teacher voice to the conversation. Kristen loves growing with her two children, Daniel (11) and Grace (8), and is excited and honored to serve the Wai’alae school community, whose mission and vision she wholeheartedly believes in.
Leon Geschwind is the father of two young daughters and a proud Wai’alae parent. He is the NOAA Education and Outreach Specialist at the Inouye Regional Center. He is a believer in Wai’alae’s whole-child approach and is passionate about engaging communities around climate change science and solutions. Prior to NOAA, Leon taught middle and high school Earth, Physical, and Environmental Science, served as adjunct faculty at Hawaii Pacific University, and led the Bishop Museum science education department. He has a Bachelors in Global Environmental Science, a Masters in Educational Technology, and is pursuing a PhD in Learning Design and Technology from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.
Lianna Lam is passionate about community and public schools, viewing both as places to seed and cultivate aloha! Lianna’s love for public schools sprouted from her time at Ahuimanu Elementary, where she benefitted from loving and dedicated teachers. Lianna holds an environmental engineering degree from University of California Davis and a Masters in Education from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and has worked as an Engineer, Science Teacher, Sustainability Coordinator and and STEM Coordinator. As an educator, she believes in the whole-child approach — one that embraces and nurtures the mind, body, and spirit. This belief is most evident in her contributions to building and stewarding the Green Lab at Kaimuki Middle School, an outdoor classroom where she worked with students and teachers to explore Hawai’i’s environmental sustainability through hands-on, project-based, experiential learning. More recently, Lianna is the co-founder of Piko Pals, a new parent support program that mentors and builds community among parents of newborns. In addition to being a busy mom of three boys, Lianna continues to serve public education and community by contributing to the Wai’alae GSB.
Susan Serrano is the mother of a first-grader at Wai‘alae. She is an Associate Faculty Specialist and Associate Director of Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Prior to joining the law school faculty, Susan practiced civil rights and public interest law at three nonprofit organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Susan received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley and her Juris Doctor degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law.
Bernard K. Nunies, SHRM-SCP, SPHR is a seasoned business executive with over 25 years of international management experience across a variety of industries. He is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Island Holdings, Inc. with prior senior Human Resources roles in higher education, consulting, and luxury retail. Bernard has also served as lecturer and adjunct faculty at Hawai‘i Pacific University and Leeward Community College. He is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Notre Dame. As a Waialae Governing School Board member, Bernard hopes to share his business and HR experience to strengthen and drive the mission, vision, and student learning outcomes of the organization.
Keʻōpū Reelitz believes every child in Hawai‘i deserves quality care and education from birth. She has spent the last several years dedicated to increasing access to and investments in early childhood care and education. Wai‘alae School Board enables her to bridge the gap from early childhood to elementary-age education and child care. Keʻōpū is currently the Director of Early Learning and Health Policy for the Hawai‘i Children’s Action Network (HCAN). Previously, she worked for the State Executive Office on Early Learning as the communications lead, as the public information officer at the State Department of Human Services, at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs on self-governance initiatives and as an award-winning editor of Mana Magazine. Keʻōpū is a graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law, Loyola University Chicago and Kamehameha Schools Kapālama. When she’s not working or volunteering with Wai‘alae, she’s likely running around literally and figuratively. She’s a mom to three young children, a wife and an avid walker, jogger and cyclist.
Koalani Lagareta has 18 years of experience in public education, 13 of which have been at Wai'alae Public Charter School. She is the parent of a Wai'alae School graduate and has experienced the benefits of a whole-child approach to education with her own two adult children. Koalani has worn many hats at Wai'alae throughout the years as parent, classroom teacher, cadre design team chair, grade level chair, resource teacher, curriculum coach, and now as the faculty representative on the Governing School Board. Koalani earned her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education from The Evergreen State College and her Master's of Science in Education from Chaminade University. She holds multiple teaching licenses and is Montessori trained and certified. Koalani is a staunch advocate for progressive public education, particularly Hawai'i charter schools, and believes every child deserves free high-quality education that is engaging, relevant, culturally responsive, and joyful!
Star Ventura has a passion for community building, social justice and family empowerment. She is a Registered Nurse Clinical Coordinator at Queens Emergency Department working to support best practice, performance improvement and nursing education. Star obtained a degree in Social Work from the University of Hawaiʻi, then went on to study nursing at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. She has been a member of the teaching team at Chaminade University School of Nursing as clinical adjunct faculty, as well as participating in hospital nursing ethics committees and nursing regulatory reviews. At Waiʻalae, Star has been a member of the Governance Committee and COVID Task Force. She is also a proud mom of two Waiʻalae keiki.
A big mahalo to our past board members for their generous service and many contributions to Wai’alae School!