"We must stand in unity to uplift and move forward the educational achievement of our Filipino American students."

PD Course
Inquiry Design Model (IDM) in Teaching Filipino History, Culture, and Identity Professional Development Series

Learn more about this professional development course.

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Sistan Castro Alhambra

The first Filipino school teacher to be hired at a Hawaii public school was Sistan Castro (now Mrs. Rufo Alhambra) who was a graduate from the Territorial Normal School. She was born in the Philippines but was adopted by Dr. & Mrs. Christianson, who travelled with the army medical corps before settling in Hawaii. She taught for three months in 1923 but quite because she was only receiving $15 a month. She decided to use her hard-earned credentials to form her own school, the first private kindergarten in Hawaii. Fairyland Kindergarten had as many as 800 students and operated for 52 years, after which Mrs. Alhambra retired. (75th Anniversary of Filipinos in Hawaii “Education: The Filipino Dream”, 1981, p. 86-87)

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01 Filam
Filipino Americans and Education

Filipino Americans represent the largest ethnic group in Hawai‘i’s public schools (23%) and score moderate on Hawai‘i State Assessments (HSA) in reading and math achievement.

"Filipino Americans are an 'invisible' majority in Hawai‘i's schools."

Hawaii DOE, 2021–2022

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02 Institute
Institute Structure

The Institute will be organized around three phases: curriculum-making, curriculum- exchanging, and curriculum-applying. During curriculum-making, professional learning communities composed of representatives from each of the partners will collaborate to develop curriculum for the Institute. Teachers enrolled in the Institute will then have the opportunity to experience the curriculum and begin exchanging ideas on how to implement it in their classroom. Finally, teachers will apply the curriculum in their classroom with guided assistance and reflection.

03 Summary

The Filipino American Education Institute is a partnership between the University of Hawai‘i, Manoa’s College of Education, College of Arts & Sciences, Leeward Community College Theatre and teachers from the Farrington Complex to develop and implement a three-week summer professional development/graduate course for twenty-five teachers focused on meeting the academic, social and cultural needs of Filipino American students.

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module 1
Module 01:
Arts, Culture, and Identity

The focus of this module is for teachers to understand the diversity as well as common themes between the ethnolinguistic groups of the Philippines, along with the holistic nature of specific Philippine arts and cultural practices through demonstrations and participation in an experiential sampling of its performing arts.

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module 2
Module 02:
Language, Literature & Culture

The focus of this module is to understand students who are English Language Learners (ELL) from the Philippines and Filipino ELLs born in Hawaii. Students who come from the Philippines come from an educational system that differs from the educational system here in Hawaii. This module gives participants the opportunity to analyze academic difficulties these students face and address strategies through lesson planning, activities and the implementation of Filipino literature.

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Module 03:
History, Memory, Perspective

This module provides tools to examine critical connections between memory, perspective and colonization and how it influences the interpreting and silencing of Philippine history. By recognizing the diversity and dignity of Filipino experiences, students free themselves from the chains of local and globalized stereotypes – often harmful internalized images that subconsciously damage students’ perceptions of self and deter meaningful interactions with others. Whether you teach humanities, math or science, a critical history education builds empowered and engaged learners.

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module 4
Module 04:
Immigration, Local Culture & Identity

This module focuses on identity and politics of location by engaging participants in a Socratic session and critical reading. We will discuss the following questions: (1) How do we identify the diminished ethnic identity/awareness amongst our students? (2) How do we build student identity and awareness? (3) How do we accomplish these goals to foster student achievement? Participants will also develop their use of the Structure Academic Controversy debate model in order to unpack deeper topics.

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module 5
Module 05:
Pop Culture, Contemporary Issues & Social Action

This module demonstrates a tangible way for teacher participants to apply what they learned during the Institute. Teachers will learn how to integrate critical and hip hop pedagogy into their teaching. This will provide them with a social action template/process and examples on how to explore issues in the community and implement their knowledge and awareness into Hawai‘i classrooms statewide. This final module on critical praxis empowers teachers and students to confront challenges and ultimately uplift their school and wider community.

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The Filipino American Education Institute is named after Sistan C. Alhambra, the first Filipina teacher hired at a Hawai‘i public school in 1924 who later developed Hawai‘i’s first private Kindergarten school. In memory of her trailblazing spirit, the mission of the Institute is to connect the knowledge and resources of the nation’s leading scholars in Philippine and Filipino American studies, languages, literature, curriculum and pedagogy with the expertise of K-12 teachers to ultimately benefit Filipino American students.

In The News

Multicultural Teachers Develop Program to Benefit Fil-Am Students - By Fiedes DOCTOR

One Day: Teach for America Alumni Magazine, Fall 2010 (Edition X)
"Not Just Black or White" (PDF)

Advisory Board

The Institute strongly believes in partnering with community members.

Amefil Agbayani
Maggie Domingo
Domingo Los Banos
Bennette Misalucha Evangelista
Representative Joey Manahan


Patricia Halagao

Ph.D. Curriculum Studies
Doris Christopher
Ph.D. Institute for Teacher Education
Jeff Moniz
Ph.D., Director, Secondary Education
Institute for Teacher Education
Felicia Flores
East-West Ford Fellow

Theodore Gonzalves
Ph.D. American Studies
Aurelio Agcaoili
Ph.D., Indo-Pacific Languages and Literature
Pia Arboleda
D.A., Indo-Pacific Languages and Literature
Rod Labrador
Ph.D. Ethnic Studies
Theresa Navarro
MA., American Studies
Randy Cortez
UH Student, Indo-Pacific Languages and Literature
Maria Elena B. Clariza
UH Library Specialist, Philippine Collections

Wayland Quintero
MFA, Performing Arts Practitioner
Assistant Theatre Manager

Tamara Dijos
, Fern Elementary School
Rayna Fujii, Fern Elementary School
Tess Antone, Kalihi Kai Elementary
Rebecca Hirakami, Kalihi Kai Elementary
Jan Ishikawa, Kalakaua Middle School
Sheri Livingston, Kalakaua Middle School
Rodrigo Acoba, Waipahu Intermediate School
Laurie Luczak, MEdT, Farrington High School
Julius Soria, UH Gear-Up - Farrington High School
Katrina Guerrero, Mililani High School
Ojay Tambio, Artist, Kawananakoa Middle School