New Kilohana Principal Living His Dream

By Dan Murphy

When Richard Stevens first came to Hawaii to teach in 1989, he dreamed that he would one day live on Molokai. After 20 long years, Stevens’ dream finally came true when he was named the new principal of Kilohana Elementary School this summer.

Kilohana was also his dream school. Ten years ago, Stevens met former Kilohana principal Stephen Petro at a conference and immediately knew that was the place for him.

“I was just so impressed by all the teachers, by the idea of a school of 100 [students] where everybody knew everybody,” he said. “I always just thought it was a fantasy, I never really thought I’d get a chance to do it.”

The school has gone through a string of principals since Petro. The most recent, Denise Kelly, was hired as the new principal for Molokai High School this summer. When the Kilohana position opened up, Stevens jumped at the opportunity.

He says he is here to stay.

Stevens’ first teaching job was at an elementary school in American Samoa. He stayed there for a decade before moving to Oahu. Stevens raised a family while on Oahu and also spent 11 years as the vice principal of Nanaikapono Elementary School in Waianae.

Stevens said the school and the community have made his transition to Molokai a breeze.

“I really feel like everyone has opened their arms to me,” he said. “I love going out to the buses to greet the kids every morning and the parents will come over and talk story with me. It is a great community.”

Stevens believes that it is the strong community surrounding Kilohana that leads to the school’s success. He said his challenge will be taking the school from good to great. He was impressed with the entire staff’s motivation to do the same and wants to do as much as he can to help them.

“My biggest plan is to try to give the teachers time to work together,” he said. “To me the most precious resource for teachers is time.”

Stevens thinks that he can free up some time by using technology to make some aspects of the teachers’ jobs easier. He also wants to implement as much technology as possible into the classroom. Stevens said technology can open doors for his students to do whatever they want, wherever they want.

“What I don’t want to do is devote my life to educate our kids to leave,” he said. “I want them to be able to do whatever they want, but I also want to look at ways where I can prepare them to support themselves and their families in the future and still live on Molokai.”

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