How an Island Teacher Builds Community Bridges Through Her Hawaii School

A 12-mile drive northeast from Honolulu, through the lush mountains of O’ahu, is nestled Kaneohe, a small residential town that was once the island’s agricultural center — and home of its early kings. Millions of years ago, the area Kaneohe occupies was a crater that filled with volcanic lava and debris that dropped into the ocean in a massive landslide. Now, James B. Castle High School rests in one of the resulting valleys that spill out to the Pacific, against a backdrop of soaring cliffs and ridges dense with tropical forests.

Crowned heads may no longer govern the people of Kaneohe, but Castle High School math teacher Heidi Maxie wears more than enough hats to ensure that the students and their neighbors are well taken care of. Before the first spiral notebooks crack open in the morning, Maxie starts her day by first making sure the students — and she knows each and every one of them — are all OK.

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