Helping Keiki reach new heights | Hawaii Jobs

Helping Keiki reach new heights

Teachers Joan Menor and Carol Wilson, director of administration Galo Camacho, assistant teacher Amanda Juliano, Au and teacher Ofelia Mangum are passionate about teaching youngsters at the school.

By Don Robbins

Seagull Schools responds to the early learning and childcare needs of Hawaii’s diverse population by providing programs of the highest value — connecting the generations in healthy environments.

Seagull Schools has been serving Hawaii as a private, nonprofit corporation since 1971. Since then, it has thrived on fulfilling community needs for early education. Today, Seagull Schools has an enrollment of more than 900 children at centers located in Kailua, Kapolei, Ko Olina, Ocean Pointe and downtown Honolulu on the island of Oahu.

The Seagull School at Kapolei also provides adult day services (including those with disabilities). By mixing the care for 240 young children and 50 older adults, a multigenerational curriculum has been developed where children and seniors get together for their mutual benefit.

Dr. Megan McCorriston, executive director, explained that Seagull Schools has “created rich, safe and stimulating environments for children’s growth that consists of developmentally appropriate learning materials; energetic, warm and imaginative teachers and staff; and an appreciation for the unique qualities each of our students possess.”

She added, “At Seagull Schools we offer high quality first school and childcare programs at affordable rates that meet the needs of working parents.”

According to McCorriston, the program offerings are unique in that the schools accommodate working families’ schedules, offer three hearty meals a day to children and adults, and have safe, healthy school environments that earned a “Blue Zones” distinction.

All of the schools’ early education programs are fully accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), McCorriston emphasized.

Among its awards, in June 2012, Seagull was selected from 6,000 childcare centers nationally by First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” program for outstanding efforts to prevent obesity and help children get off to a healthy start in life.

In addition to the benefits it provides to the people it serves, Seagull Schools’ workplace is also fun and family-oriented for employees.

“Due to our size and multiple departments, staff have opportunities for both upward and/ or lateral mobility,” McCorriston shared.

She also said the organization looks for individuals who want to give back to their local community in substantial ways, and care for them on the entire spectrum of life — from the earliest years to seniors.

She added that staff members should strive to make a positive difference in the lives of children and adults.

“An ideal employee also enjoys providing meaningful experiences with young children, interacts with children, makes learning fun, sings with them, reads to them, plays with them,” McCorriston stressed.

As a co-worker, a staff member should be able to work as a team with others, be spontaneous, flexible, have a “can do” attitude, think outside of the box and keep an open mind, according to the executive director.

Seagull Schools strives to provide an environment where staff members feel supported, respected and valued.

McCorriston said it’s “a place where they know the expectations, but also know they matter. Seagull Schools is like an extended family.”

Staff members said they definitely obtain satisfaction from their jobs. Among them is Leah Funtanilla, an afternoon aide in a class for 2-year-old keiki.

“My favorite part of the day is being able to see first-hand a child accomplish something and see the twinkle in their eyes as they smile and say ‘I did it!'” Funtanilla exclaimed.

Chanel Venzon, a lead teacher for the 3-4 year-olds class, chimed in, “What I love about a Seagull day is no matter rain or shine, we always have a good time!”

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THE 411

COMPANY: Seagull Schools

LOCATION: 531 Farrington Hwy., Kapolei (and four other Oahu locations)

PHONE: Kapolei Adult Day Center 674-1160, Kapolei Preschool 674-1444, Kailua 261-8534, Ocean Pointe 689-6021, Honolulu Early Education Center 533-0004, Ko Olina 671-6999


EMPLOYEES: About 190

BENEFITS: Medical, dental and vision insurance for eligible employees, 401(k), discounted tuition, paid time off, paid holidays, professional development program, free meals while on duty and more.


NOTEWORTHY: Seagull Schools is a 501c3 nonprofit run by a 13-member board of directors.