Waimea Elementary School (WES) is located in the South Kohala District on the island of Hawai'i, better known as "The Big Island." Once considered a rural community, Waimea is rapidly becoming more suburban in nature. The community is a blend of ranching, farming, retail, tourism, and high technology. Headquarters for Parker Ranch, Queens Medical Center, Keck Observatory and Canada-France-Hawai'i Telescope are found within the town limits. Nestled at the foothills of the Kohala and Mauna Kea Mountain Waimea Elementary and Intermediate School was founded in 1916 as a one building school house containing 8 classrooms. In July of 2002, Waimea Elementary and Intermediate school separated and became two schools and continue to co-exist on one campus. WES has a student population of approximately 543 students from preschool to fifth grade. WES is the only public school serving the Waimea community, also known as Kamuela. Other educational options in the area include four private schools (three within one mile), a public charter school, and homeschooling options. Majority of the students that attend Waimea Elementary are drawn from several areas surrounding the town of Waimea, such as Kawaihae, Lakeland, Pu’u Kapu and Lalamilo. Waimea Elementary has a strong commitment to standards-based instructions as well as teaching to the whole child. We are preparing students to be 21st Century learners by focusing on technology integration by teaching the lower grade levels useful apps on iPads and having 1:1 student computers from Grade 2 to Grade 5 in each classroom. Lower-elementary students have access to computers in the classroom as well as iPads and a computer lab. A daily, student-run, news broadcast is used to highlight bright spots at the school and is also a showcase of student digital media skills. The school recently incorporated mobile devices that allow students to access VR content. All classrooms use the Reading Wonders program for language arts and the Stepping Stones program for math. These programs were adopted statewide and are in their 5th and 6th year of implementation. They are based on the Common Core standards and provide schoolwide instructional consistency. Additionally, students have the opportunity to participate in lessons about Hawaiian Studies, gardening, and health/nutrition education. WES also educates students about healthier lifestyles through its fresh fruits and vegetable program, Foodcorps program, and the community-wide Blue Zones project.
Waimea Elementary is dedicated to the academic success of each student and works to provide differentiated instruction in each classroom. From 2015 to 2018 all classrooms were supported with classroom tutors who assisted with small group instruction. In SY 2018-2019 the employment requirements for tutors changed and the school was only able to provide tutoring support to Kindergarten and first-grade homerooms. The Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO) is an active and strong non-profit organization that partners with WES in support of student learning through fundraising programs that assist each grade level or classroom with specific needs to enhance the academic content such as math, science, and reading. The PTSO contributes to the school by having campus beautification days, Scholastic Book Fairs, parent nights, and participating in town parades. The school PTSO sponsors fun events such as class fundraising competitions, WES Talent Show, teacher and staff appreciation week, and assistance with fifth-grade promotion ceremony.