Meet Our Specialty Teachers

Mahina Peleiholani Blankenfeld-Kaheiki
Specialty Kumu, Hawaiian Studies
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Mahina is the Hawaiian Studies kumu at Mālamalama Waldorf School, where she offers a diverse applied learning curriculum ranging from kinderhale to class eight. Born and raised in Kaimū, she understands the importance of culture-based education and how it plays a key role in improving the outcomes for the greater Native Hawaiian community through resilience.

 

Coming from a family of watermen and artists, she was inspired to pursue a career path that enhances her love for both of her passions. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Marine Science and a minor in Art from the University of Hawai'i at Hilo. Throughout her undergraduate and into her professional career, she has done numerous internships for NOAA under the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument Office, worked as an assistant teacher and teaching assistant for the Hālau Kupukupu Innovations Academy and is currently in her fourth year at Mālamalama, where she was a class assistant for two years as well.

 

As a kumu, she strives to inspire her haumāna (students) to embrace the Hawaiian culture through an ‘ōiwi (native) lens.  Mālamalama has provided a pathway for her to merge various cultural and spiritual beliefs in a creative and unique way in order for her students to be fully equipped for the next stages on their journey in life.

 

Mahina loves the energy and spirit the students, staff and community bring which can only be found at Mālamalama.  As a kanaka maoli, it is extremely important for her to share the beauty of Hawai'i and the essence of aloha to those who are willing to listen and learn.

 

" ‘A'ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka hālau ho'okahi—All knowledge is not taught in one school (#203).” We all have potential to learn from the many different “schools" around us, so let’s do it together!

Jude Lyon
Title 1 Reading/Writing Instructor
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Jude Lyon has worked at Malamalama Waldorf School for the past 9 years under the auspices of the Hawaii Department of Education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley and a Teaching English as a Second Language certification from Seattle University. She previously taught grades 1 through 12 as a public school substitute teacher in Alaska.

Jude’s career in Hawaii includes several years as a Development Director for a family support services organization in Kona serving children at risk for neglect and abuse. She also served as an advocate for sexual assault victims in Kona through the YWCA and the Children’s Justice Center of Hilo. She has a long history of cause-oriented pursuits, working on behalf of people living with HIV/AIDS, developmental disabilities, mental illness, people without homes, and those who are hungry, or food challenged. For many years in her youth, she worked in radio and television broadcasting as a copywriter, producer, director, and talent.

Asked about her view of the school, Jude noted, “What I love about our school is the personal attention given to students, the genuine desire to help them grow academically, developmentally, and emotionally. Waldorf is a wholistic education featuring high emotional intelligence and a kind of graceful calm.” And for her thoughts about our island, she said, “I love the island for the power I find in its natural beauty. It inspires my daily gratitude.”

Yukiko Ito
Specialty Sensei, Japanese Studies
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Aloha, nice to meet you! I am Yukiko from Japan. I was born in Tokyo and raised in the suburbs of Chiba. My family moved to Hawaii five years ago, and It is a great pleasure for me to have an opportunity to teach Japanese at this school on Hawaii island.

Prior to moving to Hawaii, I was working at the international preschool in Japan and as a private tutor to prepare for the entrance exam for students ages 7-15.

 

In my childhood, I loved reading books and spending time with nature. I also loved listening to music and dancing. When I was 13, I gained unforgettable opportunities to join the parades to celebrate the founding of the United States as a baton twirler. Our team participated in ceremonies at several places in the US, but joining Parades at the Kalakaua streets in Oahu and Disneyland in California was the most memorable for me. In that same year, I read my first book about Waldorf education on my parents' bookshelf.  It was very impressive.

In my Japanese class here, in addition to learning to speak and write Japanese, students learn traditional Japanese songs and learn to make Japanese papercrafts with “Origami” as part of their lessons. They love to make it. I would like to introduce more Japanese culture and customs such as calligraphy and Japanese simple cooking. Through learning foreign languages, I hope that students will have a respectful mind in this wonderful natural environment at Mālamalama Waldorf School.

Dr. Irina Savery
Tutor/Specialty Teacher, Math
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Irina has been a classroom math teacher for over a decade, teaching a range of math levels, from Elementary to College at public, charter, and private schools here on the Big Island of Hawaii.

 

On her journey to becoming a teacher, Irina lived in different countries on different continents, wore many hats, and explored many careers. Irina has a Bachelor's degree in Education and Mathematics/Statistics from the Ben-Gurion University in Israel and holds a B.Sc. and a Ph.D in Computer Science from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She worked as a financial consultant at a bank, did research as part of the Ph.D program at AT&T Research in NJ, worked as a software engineer at Google, lectured Math and Computer Science courses at the Hawaii Community College, and taught math at a number of island schools, including St. Joseph High School.

 

In Dr. Savery’s own words: “Fluency in math is a great contribution to one's quality of life. My students often ask me why math is important; I tell them that practicing math develops brain muscles, which in turn increase one's general intelligence. Math opens doors and creates opportunities, regardless of what professional path one chooses to pursue.”

Melissa Sigh
Specialty Teacher, Music
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Melissa holds a Master of Music in Music Education from Michigan State University and used to teach music for East Lansing Public Schools.

Melissa is a certified Music Learning Theory early childhood instructor and has taught private lessons for the past 20 years.

Melissa teaches classes are interactive, informal, and playfully encourage children to create their own sounds and movement.


Beginning students learn a variety of songs that rely on the easiest ukulele chords. Students are provided with practice routines to help master new chords and switch between chords fluidly.

Robert Thomas Wilson
Specialty Teacher, Movement
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Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Robert has always loved the arts. That passion fueled his service within the community. He studied Theater Arts and Dance at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania where he earned his BA in Performance Studies. Upon graduation, Robert moved back to Baltimore where he enjoyed partnerships with both the Hippodrome and Center Stage Theatres as a teaching artist.

 

Working in youth theater sparked a passion for education and Robert went on to earn his Master's in Special Education from Notre Dame Maryland University. Robert has been using his skills in the expressive arts as a classroom teacher in Maryland for the last 8 years and is excited to share his experiences and energy with his newfound community here in Hawaii!

 

Along with dance instruction, Robert has a passion for soccer, woodworking, music, and creative writing. Alongside his wife, Robert is enjoying his recent debut into parenthood, relishing every possible moment with their newborn son.

Robert Wilson is excited to join the Malamalama Waldorf family!