Denise Espania / "Kumu Espania"


“Looking to the future while being rooted in the culture of our past. Learning through experience and exploration is what our ancestors used to educate youth. All children learned how to care for the earth, of each other, and become successful contributing members of society by working with peers and mentors through a process of observing, doing, and perfecting. It is our kuleana to ensure that all our keiki have the confidence and courage to dream and set high goals and navigate through the challenges and successes of life to reach their desired destinations.”

Denise Espania’s teaching career spanned Pre K through 12th grade, general and special education, from Washington to Hawaiʻi. In 2004, Denise left the classroom and moved into post secondary education. After enjoying her time as an educational researcher and teacher educator, she returned to K-12 as a school administrator at an elementary and then a middle school. As an instructional leader she lead work around literacy across the curriculum and implementation of common core, teacher reflection using the Charlotte Danielson framework, data driven professional learning communities, standards based grading, and full inclusion of all learners in all classrooms. Most recently Denise worked as an educational consultant at Envision Learning Partners, supporting schools as they created structures and instructional practices that engaged students and teachers in deeper learning through performance assessment. Denise received her undergraduate from Gonzaga University and her masters degree in Special Education from the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa. She continued her education receiving her administrator credential and doctorate from the University of Washington. Denise is humbled and honored to return home to the islands to serve the students and ʻohana of Waimānalo.

Tiffany DeSilva / "Kumu DeSilva"

Office Manager

“He lani ke keiki, he milimili na ka makua. The child is a chief to be embraced by the parent. A child requires as much care as a chief” – ʻŌlelo Noʻeau 719, Mary Kawena Pukui. We are all called to be stewards. When we take care of our keiki, they become caretakers.

Tiffany DeSilva graduated from Portland State University where she received her Bachelors of Science in Community Health Education. An active member of a hula halau for over 20 years, Tiffany participated in both the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival as well as part of the Hawaiʻi contingency who traveled to Rome for the canonization of Damien deVeuster to sainthood.

Tiffany has worked with elementary school aged children as a youth leader and has also assisted in planning with the lead teacher for summer activities. She has assisted the principal of summer sessions with administrative work as well as the owner of a local retail business. Tiffany is grateful for this opportunity to give back to her community of Waimānalo and help in this journey of educating our youth.

Kehaulani Piiohia / "Kumu Kehau"

Kindergarten Kumu

I ulu nō ka lālā i ke kumu - Pukui 

The branches form because of itʻs trunk.

Our keiki are the branches of our future. To help them grow, haumana need a strong educational foundation in who they are, where they have come from, and how their actions will impact their future. This ʻōlelo noʻeau speaks to the kuleana of a Kumu; to nurture, grow, and guide our haumana to reach their full potential as learners. I believe that through Hawaiian culture and values based lessons both Kumu and haumana will continue to flourish. 

Kumu Kehau first began teaching at Hālau Lōkahi PCS in Kalihi with 1st and 2nd grade students.  She first graduated from UH Mānoa with a degree in Elementary Education and recently received her Masterʻs in STEMS^2 focusing on curriculum studies. Kehau is passionate about learning outside of the classroom and promoting studentʻs sense of place. She grew up in a small community in South Kona on Hawaiʻi Island and knows the importance of ʻohana, kula, and kaiaulu (community). Kumu Kehau continues to learn about Waimānalo and itʻs rich wahi pana and moʻolelo. She is grateful to be apart of the MHPCS ʻohana!  

Sarah Hussey / "Kumu Sarah"

Kindergarten EA
"The deeds will no be less valiant because they are unpraised"
~J.R.R. Tolkien
Sarah Hussey comes to Mālama Honua PCS after working for the YMCA for 15 years. From volunteer, to group leader, she concluded her time with the YMCA summer and after school programs as a Program Director at the Kaimuki-Waialae YMCA.  She has a B.A. in English from The University of Hawaii.
Jessica Kaakua / "Kumu J"

First/Second Grade Kumu

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child.  Listen to the don’ts.  Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.  Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child.  Anything can be.”  -Shel Silverstein

Jessica Kaakua spent the last 7 years as a teacher at Aina Haina School. After graduating from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa with her bachelors degree in Elementary Education, she began teaching as an intervention and enrichment reading teacher, before becoming a classroom teacher in the first and second grades. At Aina Haina School, Jessica served as the first grade data team facilitator, helping teachers to assess student needs and adopt new instructional strategies to utilize in the classroom. She helped to plan and develop International Baccalaureate (IB) units that led students through inquiries of Sharing the Planet, Who We Are, How We Organize Ourselves, and How We Express Ourselves. Jessica also volunteered as the “AHS Jagbots” Lego Robotics Coach and served as the May Day Chairperson throughout her career. She is excited and grateful for the opportunity to work in Waimānalo where she was born and raised and to give back to her community. She takes her knowledge, lessons learned, and treasured memories with her as she embarks on this new “wild” path and is ready to “Let the wild rumpus start!”

Jessica Piiohia / "Kumu Piiohia"

First/Second Grade Kumu

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  Itʻs not."

-The Lorax, Dr. Seuss


Jessica Piʻiohia’s teaching career began at Ka Waihona o ka Naʻauao PCS in Nānākuli with Kindergarten and 1st grade students. She received her undergraduate at Willamette University in Oregon and her Master of Education in Teaching from the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa. Jessica has a strong belief in Mālama Honua’s vision to empower students to positively impact their communities. She is excited to return to the windward side, where she was raised, to learn and grow with the ʻohana at Mālama Honua PCS.      

Peehi Te Atai Waho / "kumu Peehi"

First/Second Grade EA

Ko Te Turi-o-Murimotu rāua ko Kahuwera ngā maunga

Ko Te Tokiahuru rāua ko Mōkau ngā awa
Ko Ngati Rangi rāua ko Ngāti Maniapoto ngā iwi
Tēnā tātou e ngā iwi!
Peehi Te Atai Wahoʻs background and education is in the revitalization of the Maori language & culture in New Zealand. He has an accumulation of almost 10 years teaching in education with a range of experiences from caregiving 1 year olds to teaching high school seniors. He currently calls Kailua his home with his wife and two children. As a malihini or guest to this beautiful island, he has made a conscious effort to contribute to the revitalization of the Hawaiian language and cultural practices. He loves taking his children to all of their wahi pana to keep them rooted and connected to their sacred lands. Kalo farming in the morning and surfing the waves at Kailua in the afternoon is the way he loves spending his days. Working up uka in the lo'i patches and swimming in the cooling ponds and streams hidden all along the Ko'olau range are revitalizing. His passion is helping friends and family touch the land and getting dirty with aloha `aina, and mālama honua!!
Andrea Aiona / "Kumu Maile"

Third Grade Kumu

Although the newest faculty member at MHPCS, Kumu Maile has been teaching since 1997 after receiving her BEd in Elementary Education. After teaching at Waiau Elementary school for about 10 years, she completed her MEd in Curriculum Studies in Elementary Mathematics, and then taught for about 10 years at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. While there, she consulted for schools across O’ahu and traveled the Pacific Ocean consulting and working toward her PhD, receiving it in 2014 in Curriculum Studies with a focus on Elementary Mathematics and Ethnomathematics.

One of her favorite quotes is by a poet and philosopher Ibn Gabirol (c. 1022-1058).

In seeking wisdom,
the first step is silence,
the second listening,
the third remembering,
the fourth practicing,
the fifth – teaching others.

While not reading and talking about learning and teaching, and planning and reflecting for teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband and 7-year-old daughter (a 2nd grade student at MHPCS beginning in 2017). When there is time, they love to paddle-board and surf, go hiking, read together, and just play and have fun.

She is continually humbled, living in our wahi pana, currently residing in Maunawili and is excited to become a part of the Malama Honua and Waimanalo ‘ohana. We are on a path laid by walking (from the late A.J. Sandy Dawson, PhD) and she believes that a tree cannot grow without very deep roots (from the late Beatrice D’Ambrosio, PhD), both of whom were Kumu Maile’s advisors and mentors and are deeply missed. Therefore, her goal is for a world wherein every adult is an advocate for children. She believes that one of our collective purposes should be to help keiki establish their firm, deep roots and find and lay their paths, while continuing to alter their paths as they learn more. That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way. – Doris Lessing (1919-2013)


Rachael Hussey / "Kumu Hussey"

Fourth/Fifth Grade Kumu

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go." ~Dr. Seuss

The following is Rachael's favorite inspirational teacher quote. She hopes to be able to equip her students with the confidence, resources, and the perseverance that is needed for the students to be successful.

Rachael Hussey's teaching career spans from 2011-2014. She has taught grades K-4 as a special education teacher. She has attended Taft Junior College in California and completed her teaching cohort at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa with a dual certification to teach both special education and general education grades K-6. She feels blessed and excited to serve the families that will be joining Mālama Honua Public Charter School

Kapiolani Nee / "Kumu K"

Third/Fourth/Fifth Grade EA

Ku i ka mana
The haumana receives knowledge from the mouth of his teacher.
ʻŌlelo Noʻeau

Born and raised in Waimānalo, Kapiʻolani always had a deep connection to her community. She is the current president of Waimānalo Canoe Club and enjoys perpetuating the traditional sport of outrigger canoe paddling. She recently received her Associates degree in Liberal Arts and Hawaiian Studies. She plans to continue her education and earn her Bachelors degree in Early Childhood education.  Kapiʻolani is very humbled and honored to set sail on this waʻa and begin her voyage educating the keiki o ka ʻāina.

Kanoho Hosoda / "Kumu Kanoho"

Cultural Specialist

“Aia i hea ka hiʻu, aia i hea ke poʻo, eia ka pauku i waena. Where is in the past? Where is in future? Here we are in the present.”

"Unite the past with the present in order to revolutionize the future."

~Kawaikapuokalani Hewitt, Kamaliʻi o ka Pō.


Kelsea Kanohokuahiwi Hosoda was born and raised in Kaʻelepulu, Oʻahu. Kanoho received her Bacherlors of Science in Biology and Certificate in Hawaiian language in 2011 and a Masters of Science in Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering in 2015 from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. The majority of her Hawaiian language and culture was learned through hālau, hula school where she has over 20 years of hula experience. Kanoho has led activities with students ranging from preschool to university level that integrate the Hawaiian culture with modern science and engineering via Native Hawaiian serving programs at the University of Hawaii, the Native Hawaiian Science & Engineering Mentorship Program and Nā Pua Noʻeau. Kanoho is excited and grateful to be a part of Mālama Honua Public Charter School ʻohana.