Where Students Shine Like Stars
By Brandon Bosworth
Mary, Star of the Sea School emphasizes more than just academics by teaching keiki core communal values.
Situated on 14 scenic acres in the foothills of Waialae-Kahala, Mary, Star of the Sea School offers kindergarten through eighth grade education to both boys and girls. The school is part of the Mary, Star of the Sea Parish Community and shares its campus with Mary, Star of the Sea Church and Early Learning Center. Established by the local Catholic community in 1946, it was administered by the Sisters of Notre Dame until 1984.
“The high quality of education, (which) began by the founding Sisters of Notre Dame De Namur, continues today with highly qualified lay teachers who are dedicated to Christian value education and academic excellence,” said principal Margaret Rufo.
With an unwavering commitment to character, faith and social consciousness formation, everyone from leadership to faculty works closely together in order to ensure academic excellence as well as positive, happy and rewarding experiences for youngsters, explained Rufo.
Furthermore, parents and teachers are genuine partners in the learning process. Together, they maintain careful awareness in keiki education to encourage students to participate, to strive to achieve their best, to be considerate and supportive of others, and to value the pursuit of knowledge.
Because of this balance in relationships, the school attracts experienced, caring and innovative teachers who work to provide a range of high-quality learning opportunities to stimulate and challenge the individual needs and talents of their students, shared Rufo. “This is done within a collaborative culture, creating a strong sense of community and team spirit.”
There are typically 160 to 170 pupils enrolled at any given time, and the student body is multicultural and diverse. Classes are kept small. Despite being a Catholic school, just over half of the students are not Catholic.
Rufo emphasized that students are challenged to become confident, lifelong, and independent learners. However, the school emphasizes more than just academics. Its core philosophy also encompasses positive relationships and respect of self and others, cultural awareness, and appreciation for and preservation of the earth’s resources and natural beauty.
“Mary, Star of the Sea School encourages students to become active Christians and responsible citizens that value healthy environmental practices and kindness toward others,” she explained. “Students are given opportunities to utilize their gifts and talents to serve the needs of the community.” She adds that the school’s teachers do more than just teach, they also serve as facilitators and role models in an inquiry-based environment to help students reach their full potential in mind, body and spirit.
The work environment on campus is friendly, fun and busy. Rufo added that “students and staff value being part of Mary, Star of the Sea.” She looks for energetic, hardworking employees with a passion for education and children and are forward thinking with a strong sense of obligation toward continual professional development.
For parents considering enrolling their children at Mary, Star of the Sea School, Rufo said the school offers “a safe and nurturing learning environment that supports academic, spiritual and emotional development.”
Curious families can arrange to take a personal tour of the campus. “Visitors often say that they observe an extremely positive vibe and culture in the school almost immediately,” concluded Rufo.
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COMPANY: Mary, Star of the Sea School
LOCATION: 4470 Aliikoa St., Honolulu
PRINCIPAL: Margaret Rufo
BENEFITS: Medical, dental, 401(k), life insurance
PHOTOS COURTESY MARY, STAR OF THE SEA SCHOOL