School Profile

Welcome to Island School

Island School is an independent, college-preparatory school for students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. It is located on the island of Kaua‘i, the northernmost inhabited island of the Hawaiian Island chain, which, due to its stunning natural beauty, is known as the “Garden Island.”
Island School is a place of discovery and growth. Its college-preparatory programs, steeped in Hawaiian values, shape identities and nurture character. Its community provides dynamic interactions, camaraderie, and diverse perspectives. Island School is both a laboratory for innovation and a school with a strong tradition of academic excellence.

On behalf of the Island School community, greetings and thank you for visiting our website.

Island School consists of approximately 490 students studying in grades PK-12. Island School offers a traditional well-rounded private school structure, while providing a college-preparatory educational experience.

List of 12 items.

  • Mission and Philosophy

    Island School is an educational system. The various parts coordinate to contribute to the development of alert and lively human beings who are:

    • skilled in the basic tools of the modern world;
    • knowledgeable about a wide range of topics, current as well as of the past;
    • sensitive to outside, local, and world influences and communities;
    • aware of and committed to their civic responsibilities;
    • filled with curiosity and an eagerness to find their particular niche, fulfillment, and joy in life. 

    Our success is measured through student growth and development, individually and in the aggregate, and by appropriate college placements of its graduates.
    Island School is a place where not only traditional lines of thought are respected, but staff members keep abreast of new ideas and technologies. As appropriate, these are incorporated into the curriculum. Learning is dynamic and progressive, not fixed and static; therefore, the curriculum is under continuous review and best practices are consistently employed.
  • Location and Campus

    Island School is located in Puhi, a small, primarily residential town with a population of about 3,000. Puhi, which is also the home of neighboring Kaua‘i Community College, borders Lihu‘e, which is the County Seat of Kaua‘i, and where Lihu‘e Airport is located. The area is home to a number of schools and churches, the Kaua‘i Museum, and a variety of interesting and vibrant retail businesses, including those in downtown Lihu‘e and the Kukui Grove Shopping Center.

    Island School is located on 38.4 lovely, grassed acres, and majestic mountain and meadow views abound. The campus includes:

    15 regular classrooms
    Main Hall which serves as a theatre and cafeteria
    2 science laboratories
    Center for Hawaiian Culture and the Arts
    2 computer laboratories2 Learning Resource Centers
    art room1 faculty workroom
    music room
    offices for teachers and administrators
    small gymnasiumacres of playing fields
    full-sized, regulation gymnasiumample parking

    A master plan has been developed for existing facilities as well as those that are projected. For the near future, this includes plans for the construction of a math, science and robotics complex complete with an arena for robotics competition. Other buildings, including a performing arts center, will be built as soon as sufficient funds can be raised. A full photovoltaic energy system that comprises 1,200 solar panels was installed in 2012. The system, which is the result of a partnership between Island School and a local business, provides energy for daytime needs and makes the Island School campus a model of alternative energy consumption.
  • History

    Island School began in 1977 in Kealia on the eastern part of the island. It was the dream of seven women who wanted an alternative to the public schools. For the first six years, the program included a high school, from which a total of eight students graduated. However, the timing was deemed not right for these upper grades, and the high school was discontinued in 1983. From then until 1996, Island School was a kindergarten through 8th grade institution.

    In 1991, the campus was moved from Kealia to Puhi, its current location. In 1996, the Board of Directors determined that it was time to restart the high school. A 9th grade class was added for the 1996-97 school year and 10th, 11th and 12th grades in succeeding years, one new grade per year. In 2000, 18 students graduated from Island School’s High School. Since 2000, Island School has graduated over 500 students, almost 100% of whom have attended four-year colleges, and many have matriculated at some of the highest ranking research universities and liberal arts colleges in the nation.
  • The School

    Island School currently enrolls 492 students in grades pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Students are served by 52 teachers and 4 instructional support positions. The student/teacher ratio is about 15:1. Administrators and other staff members number 27, bringing the total staff count to 79 positions.

    The school population reflects the diversity of the island. Students range in age from 3 1⁄2 to 18 years old. In ethnicity, they are mixed. About half are of Caucasian descent; the rest are of various backgrounds including: Japanese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Hispanic, Chinese, and other ethnicities. In ability, they rank in the top third of students nationally, as indicated by the Education Records Bureau, Stanford Achievement Test (9), College Board SAT and other assessments. Based on demonstrated need, 51% of the families receive some amount of financial aid.

    Students come to Island School from all areas of the island. Most travel to and from the campus by private car including carpools. School bus service is available to students living in outlying areas from Princeville on the north shore all the way to Kekaha on the west side. This means that Island School is a commuter school, not the center of a residential community. The population of Kaua‘i is 72,000. Of this number, nearly 12,000 are children and young people of school age. About 1,000 (8%) attend either independent or parochial schools. Island School is the largest and most comprehensive of these.
  • Faculty – Characteristics of Excellence

    The Island School faculty is a passionate, diverse group of individuals who are dedicated to the growth of their students, their community, and themselves. They describe themselves as:
    • knowledgeable in both content areas and with student development;
    • lifelong learners;
    • dedicated professionals;
    • self reflective;
    • responsible;
    • flexible and collaborative;
    • ethical;
    • respectful - to the environment, self, and others;
    • fearless and risk-taking;
    • empathetic;
    • enthusiastic about teaching;
    • well-rounded;
    • creative;
    • empowered.
    The rewards gained from teaching at Island School include:

    • academic freedom;
    • being part of a dynamic and caring community where learning is valued;
    • being surrounded by excellence in others;
    • being supported both academically and personally;
    • seeing students grow and blossom as a result of our teaching;
    • working with a diverse and interesting group of colleagues.
  • Curricular Programs

    Island School’s curriculum is based on Expected Schoolwide Learning Results (ESLRs).
    ESLRs include 12 significant competencies that are the guiding force in the design of curriculum in all subjects and disciplines from kindergarten through grade 12. These grew from the Mission Statement, are based on Howard Gardner’s ideas about multiple intelligences, and are continually reviewed and adjusted by faculty and administration to ensure their relevancy and efficacy.

    Elementary School
    Island School’s mission statement, philosophy, policies, and 12 ESLRs guide the development of the elementary curriculum and all of its programs. The curriculum teaches to the whole child through language arts, math, science, social studies, art, music, Hawaiian studies, technology, social skills training, physical education, and health education. It is designed to meet all of the intelligence areas according to Howard Gardner: verbal-linguistic, math-logic, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic.

    Experienced and dedicated elementary teachers implement research-based practices and focus on the continuous improvement of each child’s knowledge and skills. For example, a multi-age teaching approach in math and language arts is in place to ensure that all students’ academic needs are met. A low student to teacher ratio with small classes, a steady focus on the growth of the individual student, and meaningful experiential activities both within and outside the classroom all contribute to high-quality learning at the elementary level.

    Middle School
    The middle level program at Island School, which includes grades 6-8, addresses the particular needs of pre-adolescent students as they transition from elementary to high school. The middle level curriculum is driven by Island School’s mission statement, philosophy, policies, and 12 ESLRs. The instructional program includes courses in language arts, math, science, social studies, foreign language, visual and performing arts, Hawaiian studies, computer science, physical education, and health education.

    Students have opportunities to advance academically based on performance and readiness. The middle school program cultivates the joy of learning, teaches students to manage the increasing demands of secondary education, and reinforces both the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards of effort and accomplishment. The middle level program supports students as they move toward increased independence in their lives. Faculty members teach to the whole student with a focus on Howard Gardner’s defined areas of intelligence. In addition, self-awareness, self-management, community skills, study skills, clarification of personal values, and emotional intelligence are all part of students’ personal and academic development. The middle school focuses on the development of healthy habits and best practices for personal and academic success in high school.

    High School

    Island School’s high school offers a rigorous college-preparatory program that prides itself on both its comprehensive curriculum and individualized instruction. Our faculty continuously provides thought-provoking, critical challenges, and regularly adapt their lesson plans to the needs of their students on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.

    While attending Island School, students are required to perform 20 hours of community service per year and take college-preparatory classes in all of the following: language arts, mathematics, science, history, foreign language, visual and performing arts, computer science, Hawaiian history, and physical education.

    Students are challenged to test their intellectual boundaries through honors and AP level courses. Approximately half of all graduating seniors have taken at least one AP course.

    As sophomores, students are required to complete a three-part Sophomore Project that begins with a thesis in American Literature, continues with a position paper in U.S. History, and culminates in a round-table discussion facilitated by the entire humanities faculty. This comprehensive project illuminates and combines many universal themes found in both American Literature and History and is a testament to the type of team-teaching and collaboration that occurs amongst dedicated faculty. As seniors, students complete an independent senior research project in an area they are most passionate about.

    From inception through completion, the seniors are responsible for designing, researching, and presenting a thesis, experiment, or problem/solution model. Meeting at regular intervals with faculty members and community mentors, students become experts in their chosen fields and verify their expertise in a teacher-led interview. All seniors must then present their findings to the community in a thirty-minute presentation. Only after a successful interview and presentation may an Island School student earn his/her high school diploma.
    Island School believes that enrichments are essential for every student’s complete development and education. Arts programs strive to expose all students to creative experiences through various mediums and content areas – visual arts, theater arts, music, computer technology, Hawaiian Studies, and physical education. Integration of the arts into other subject areas is encouraged and facilitated as faculty seek to foster and develop students’ risk-taking, initiative, and confidence in artistic endeavors and expressions.

    The strength of arts education at Island School lies in its performance-based curriculum. Arts education and experiences are viewed as necessary for all students’ academic, personal, and emotional growth. Students in elementary, middle, and high school engage in enrichment experiences. Classes in art, music, computer technology, Hawaiian Studies, drama, and physical education begin in Pre-Kindergarten and are components of every students’ education through grade five. Middle School students are enrolled in a year-long physical education class, and have the opportunity to select visual arts, music, drama, or computer technology electives. High School enrichment electives incorporate a range of choices, including ceramics, drawing, ukulele, improvisation, acting, play production, hula, yoga, weight training, robotics, and digital media. Each year major performing and visual arts events are produced by Island School students and staff, including May Day. The annual calendar also includes 2-3 drama productions, exhibitions at local art galleries, and participation in local and statewide art competitions.

    Enrichments are integral to the Island School experience and are designed to expose students to performance-based experiences. These are created to increase cultural awareness, engage students in higher-level thinking skills, foster and expand their creativity, and enhance their lives both in and beyond school.
  • Extra & Co-Curricular Programs

    Island School, which is a member of the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation, offers High School-level athletic competitions in soccer, basketball, golf, volleyball, swimming, cross-country, track and field, tennis, paddling, and air riflery. On average, 80% of students participate in sports during the school year. In recent years, Island School students have participated in county and state-level competitions and have set records in these events. Efforts have continued to cultivate greater interest in sports by including middle level athletes in practice sessions as well as creating a middle school intramural league to play parochial and other independent schools on Kaua‘i. Elementary students have the opportunity to participate in the middle and elementary track team and compete in the annual County Track Meet.

    Student Activities
    Student leadership is fostered through Student Government in high school and through Student Council in middle and elementary grades. Each of these groups plans social activities, fundraising enterprises, and spirit-generating events. They also lead meetings, discuss concerns and problem-solve.

    The campus is active even after school hours, when clubs, tutoring, sporting events, and social events take place. Middle and high school students may participate in a number of clubs and activities, including SCUBA Club, Mock Trial, Junior Restoration, Interact, Model U.N., Spanish Club, Robotics, National Honor Society, and Science Olympiad. Elementary students meet for First Lego League robotics club, sports, and other activities. Dances, retreats, movie nights, and many other social activities are planned, mostly by student government groups.

    Off-island trips are organized by faculty, some to neighbor islands, others to foreign countries. These trips take months of planning and fundraising and are life-changing experiences.

    Community Service
    Community service is encouraged and promoted for all Island School students. For example, students care for the environment by participating in beach clean-ups and native plant restoration. Students also raise funds for relief programs and organize local food drives for those in need. Every year Island School celebrates its birthday by sending its students into the community to work on projects with community organizations such as the Kaua‘i Humane Society, Friends of Lydgate Park, National Tropical Botanical Gardens, and Koke‘e Discovery Center. High school students are required to give a minimum of 20 hours of community service per year.
  • Portrait of a Graduate

    Upon graduating, an Island School student will :

    • Have confidence - is prepared to take on challenges and problems with enthusiasm and integrity;
    • Be responsible - is accountable for his or her own actions, respects deadlines, and fulfills obligations;
    • Love learning - embraces opportunity, sets goals and strives for growth;
    • Contribute to society - is a problem-solver that seeks creative solutions;
    • Collaborate with others - listens to other points of view and appreciates diversity of backgrounds and opinions;
    • Appreciate creativity - appreciates the arts as an essential element of being human;
    • Be physically fit - leads a lifestyle that promotes health and well-being.

  • Board of Directors

    The Island School Board of Directors, composed of 20 members, meets six times a year. While the major responsibility of the Board is to set policy, membership at Island School includes more than that. The Board is made up of individuals who are committed to the school and its programs, who actively promote the benefits of Island School within the community, who participate in fundraising and work diligently to support the school in a number of ways. Every Board member is involved in at least one Board sub-committee, including Academic Affairs, Admissions/Marketing, Buildings and Grounds, Development, Executive, Finance, Personnel, and Technology. The Board of Directors evaluates the Head of School annually.
  • Parent Association

    The Island School parent body, as a whole, supports the school through volunteering, sponsoring, donating, consulting and more. They are represented by the Island School Parent Association (ISPA) and its Co-Presidents and current parents, Yunah Joseph and Erin Gushman. The Steering Committee consists of officers and parent representatives from each grade level. The purposes of ISPA are to support the philosophy, programs, and activities of Island School for the benefit of all its students, facilitate communication among parents, provide parent education, encourage and coordinate volunteerism, lend support in classrooms, and sponsor school-wide activities. All parents are informed through “The Compass,” a weekly newsletter regarding student activities.
  • Alumni Association

    In 2004, the Island School Alumni Association was formed through a grant from a generous donor and includes any graduated student who attended Island School since 1977. Its purpose is to advance the interests of Island School by engaging members to contribute their expertise, encourage fellowship, and provide social and professional opportunities in a culture of camaraderie and giving. The yearly activities of the ISAA include a holiday reception in December, participation in an activity booth at the Annual Harvest Fest, an annual alumni soccer game, and various get-togethers during the school year. Communication occurs regularly through social media and email. 
  • Island School Quick Facts

    Island School is a co-educational independent day school, pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, founded in January 1977.

    Staff Count (2018-19)
    FTE Elementary Teachers 16.10
    FTE Middle School Teachers 9.4
    FTE High School Teachers 13.85
    Program Support 5.43
    Administration 7.25
    Staff 12.20
    TOTAL STAFF 78.08

    Student Count (March 2020)
    Pre K - 5th grades - 161 enrolled
    6th - 8th grades - 119 enrolled 
    9th - 12th grades - 142 enrolled
    TOTAL STUDENTS -  422 enrolled

    Board of Directors (2019-20)  -  20 volunteers

    38.4 acres with 13 buildings, including a regulation gymnasium

    Western Association of Colleges and Schools (7 years)
    Hawai‘i Association of Independent Schools (7 years)
    National Association for the Education of Young Children (Pre-Kindergarten, 5 years)

    Financial Highlights 
    (June 30, 2019)
    Gifts & Fundraising Contributions To:
    Endowment $3,600
    Special Projects $385,448 
    Tuition Aid $345,186
    Operations $91,002
    Captial $549,009
    TOTAL $1,374,245

    Gifts & Fundrasing Contributions From:
    Individuals & Families $393,175
    Foundations & Trusts $185,577
    Businesses & Corporations $51,000
    TOTAL $629,752

    Tuition (2022-23)
    Pre-Kindergarten - $11,350
    Kindergarten - 12th grade - $17,500
Educating the mind, inspiring the heart. 
Preparing Kauaʻi's youth to lead lives of significance.

Mission Statement