As we head into our 66th year of transforming lives, we want to congratulate Assistant Head of School and Director of Admissions Sandi Tadaki and Director of Professional Development and Outreach Darlene Robertson on their 40th Anniversaries with Assets School.
Darlene and Sandi both began their careers within two weeks of each other, during the summer, at the Assets campus located on the Pearl Harbor Naval Base. Both were initially hired on as Teaching Assistants, now known as Second Teachers.
Sandi received her degree in Psychology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. One of her professors had worked at Assets School, so when she began attending Graduate School at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa, he connected her to the Head of School at Assets. Part of Sandiʻs studies involved being trained on how to administer the WISC-V (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children), which made it a natural fit for working at Assets as she not only assisted with teaching but also became one of the main academic testers for the school. Under Barrett McCandless’ tutelage and through professional development Sandi continued to learn about the importance of testing, how to write follow-up reports and understand how to help the children who came to Assets for an education. Sandi has also spent her years teaching enrichments (Rocketry and Dissection), as Director of Diagnostic Services, part of the Multidisciplinary Team (Curriculum, Counseling, Diagnostics/Testing and Administration), Interim Head of School and most recently the Director of Admissions and Assistant Head of School.
Through her many, important roles, the one that created the most joy was being the Head of the Design Committee for the Ala Ānuenue playground. Sandi shares, “It was so much fun to think like a kid again, but it was such important work. We interviewed all the students to understand what they envisioned for the playground. We got to work with so many great people who wanted to bring this project to life for our kids. I remember the week of construction - it was such a great feeling, it was so amazing to see it all come together. I’ll never forget that moment in our history.”
About the future, Sandi says, “I believe that innately, all kids want to learn but this often gets crushed when their learning challenges are overwhelming and teachers don’t know how to help them. I wish all kids were understood. I wish people would take the time to truly understand them. If something is not working, ask why and look for ways to help the student develop the skills to move forward. What I aspire to is a world where all students get the education they need.”
Darlene received her degree in English and a Teaching Certification from Lewis and Clark College and then went on to their Graduate Program to receive a Reading Certification which helped her to understand and work with students who were both gifted and also behind in reading proficiency.
Darlene’s most important job, however, is training teachers how to teach literacy using the Slingerland Multisensory Approach and other like-minded methodologies. While she loved working in the classroom with students in grades K-8, which she did for the first half of her career, she knew that training teachers would be a far more effective way to reach more children. Darlene has also been providing community outreach with the ultimate goal of her program being widespread community awareness about learning differences and helping others better understand how to educate our children who learn differently.
Looking back through the years, Darlene shares, “I've learned a lot being here and I feel fortunate that I came to Assets at a time when it was developing its identity and solidifying its programs. I got to be part of that! The people, the community of teachers and families are so amazing. Back then, people didnʻt know about Assets or what we did. Now, when I'm out and about talking to people, everyone seems to know someone who has attended Assets - and they have such great things to say! I remember the building of the playground in 1994. It was such a huge highlight in our history because it brought together students, parents, staff and so many volunteers from the community. And it created a lasting memory for lots of children. But the most rewarding part of my job, the most memorable, are all the stories from parents and children who have attended Assets and shared how much it ' s changed their lives. Hearing these stories even after theyʻve left provides such gratification, knowing that you've positively impacted someoneʻs life forever!”
We are so fortunate to have Sandi and Darlene on our team of dedicated, incredibly knowledgeable and caring administrators and thank them for 40 years of invaluable service to our school and community!