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Sports Bring Deeper Learning at Kualapu’u

By Jack Kiyonaga, Reporter

Photo by Jack Kiyonaga.

Through the sunlight drenched mist, a champion was crowned at Kualapu’u Charter School. Friday, April 6, represented the culmination of the school’s basketball unit in Physical Education (PE) class – a milestone Kualapu’u School PE teacher Danny Davis was not going to let pass unnoticed. 

After months of focus on fundamental basketball skills, Davis organized a multi-grade three-on-three basketball tournament. Through an administration supported schedule, Davis was able to open the tournament to all fourth through sixth graders, allowing for 58 kids to sign up and participate in the two-day event. Davis is one of two full-time PE teachers at Kualapu’u School, which is unique on-island in its offering of daily PE classes. 

“The kids deserved to have an opportunity to play a great game like basketball with their friends and have their parents watch…and have fun while showing sportsmanship,” explained Davis. 

It is the attitude garnered through sport, rather than the result, that is most critical to Davis. 

“The biggest thing we push is sportsmanship,” said Davis. To this end, he offered a Sportsmanship Award, allowing the recipient team of the award to choose basketball jerseys at Davis’s own expense. 

The winners of the tournament, Team Q this year, will have their photo hung on the cafeteria’s wall, adorning the room as long as its walls stand. 

“They get to be some local legends,” said Davis. 

For Davis, sports offer a unique path towards education, specifically in the realm of social and emotional learning. 

Photo by Jack Kiyonaga.

Not only does PE set up healthy habits for life, according to Davis it also “is the ultimate place for social and emotional learning where we teach [children] to treat each other the right way: with kindness.” 

“I really view PE as an avenue to build self-confidence and interpersonal skills such as patience, teamwork, communication and respect for peers,” said Davis. 

Social and emotional learning “teaches students how to identify their own emotions so they can regulate themselves they when they start to feel overwhelmed by anxiety, fear, or other negative emotions,” he added. 

It is in negotiating the emotions of a great victory or a tough loss, treating your peers with empathy, in trying your best no matter the outcome, that social awareness and social skills can be built, according to Davis. 

Part of this specific education can be modeled through the larger arena of a sporting event. Rather than just focusing on the athletes in the basketball tournament, Davis expanded student roles to include referees, clock managers and score keepers. 

“Everyone has something special they can bring to the world,” said Davis. “Through sports we can really have each individual shine in their unique way.” 


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