Denise 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

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.

Moana Scholtz

Rachelani Maiava

Office Assistant

Melanie Loo

Counselor and Special Education

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi

Melanie is a graduate of the University of Redlands, where she got her BA in Liberal Studies and Psychology and MA in Counseling. She also has a dual certification to teach general education and special education.

Melanie began her career as an educator on the Leeward side of Oahu, spending 3 years as special education teacher and another 3 years as a school counselor. She is excited to continue her career as an educator now on the Windward side. 

Kehaulani Piʻiohia

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

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 Piʻiohia

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.  

Melissa Long

First/Second Grade Kumu

‘A‘ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia.

(No task is too big when done together by all)

Melissa began her teaching career in 2014 at Nānāikapono Elementary School in Nānākuli and has worked with both 2nd and 3rd grade. She attended Portland State University, where she received her Bachelorʻs of Science in Child and Family Studies with a specialization in Elementary Education. She then attended University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa for her Master’s of Education in Teaching before entering the teaching profession. Melissa believes that the relationship between kumu and haumana is a reciprocal one; haumana learn from kumu, and kumu learn from haumana. Melissa is inspired by the values and beliefs that Mālama Honua embodies, as it mirrors a lot of her beliefs about meaningful and effective education. She is so excited to be a part of the Mālama Honua ʻohana.

Pulei Williams

First/Second Grade EA

A'ohe pau ka ike i ka halau ho'okahi

(all knowledge is not learned in just one school)

One can learn from many different resources – in this new day and age our keiki have so many resources that they can use to obtain knowledge. Never let our keiki settle for less and limit themselves to be narrow minded – let them grow and explore, with all the opportunities life has to offer.

Kumu Pulei is a new member to our hui. She is one more resource to help your keiki seek more knowledge as they grow. In 2016 Kumu Pulei moved back to her hometown of Waimanalo from the island of Maui where she worked at the Maui Family YMCA and as an education assistant and a director for the APlus program at Lihikai Elementary. She worked with the kindergartners, 1st graders, as well as one-on-one with children who needed more assistance.

Today Kumu Pulei does the same thing. She helps Papa Mahina during the school day,and does the APlus program for Mālama Honua. As the oldest of 8 kids,Kumu Pulei has lots of experience and patience with children. She is very excited to a part of the Mālama Honua ʻohana!

Jessica Kaʻakua

Third/Fourth 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!”

Rachael Hussey

Third/Fourth 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

Third/Fourth 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.

Norbert Larsen

Fifth Grade Kumu


Vanessa Souki

Sixth Grade Kumu

Aloha! I decided to become a teacher in the 4th grade and that vision has never changed. I grew up in Salt Lake to be near my motherʻs job as a professional figure skating coach. We moved to Kailua right before I entered the 9th grade. After graduating I moved to Hilo for a semester before moving back home and finishing my degree in Hawaiian Studies. I was a substitute teacher in the DOE for a year before going back for my Masters of Education in Teaching. Shortly after graduation I married my high school sweetheart and began teaching at Kalāheo High School. After a few years of seeing the high demands on teachers I took a break to start my family. I have 3 wonderful girls who all attend Mālama Honua PCS. I spent the last 4 years teaching middle school in the private school sector.

You can find my blog  here.