Story and photos by Sarah Pacheco
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM — Senior military leaders joined Hawaii educators, lawmakers, community members and volunteers for the 11th annual Joint Venture Education Forum, or JVEF, at the Ford Island Conference Center, here, Aug. 30.
Formed in 1998, the JVEF is an active partnership between the U.S. Pacific Command and Hawaii Department of Education that promotes interaction between Hawaii’s military community and public schools in the pursuit of quality education for children.
“Education is the great equalizer,” wrote U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye in the JVEF 2012 Executive Summary. “It provides a foundation for students to excel, to achieve their dreams and to become contributing members of their communities.”
In 2000, Inouye, with support from Navy Adm. Dennis Blair, commander in chief, PACOM, and Paul LeMahieu, former state superintendent of education, championed an annual appropriation via the Department of Defense for repair and maintenance projects in public schools.
For more than a decade, PACOM served as steward of these funds — in total $58 million since 2000 — that provided Hawaii public schools new playgrounds, textbooks, technology, support for transition and citizenship programs, and curricular support in math, science, language arts, fine arts and robotics programs.
However, JVEF experienced a large cut to this funding when Congress banned earmarks in 2010.
“At this time last year we learned our funding had been cut, and we were left with uncertainty,” said JVEF executive co-chair Col. Christopher “Scott” Wilson, director, Manpower and Personnel, PACOM.
To continue serving Hawaii’s public school system — the 11th largest school district in the nation — the JVEF board sanctioned and convened an ad hoc committee to develop a process to reallocate the remaining funds.
Fifty-nine grants were submitted for a total of more than $3.6 million; in April 2012, the JVEF board approved 19 grants worth more than $800,000 to support Hawaii public schools and military-school partnerships.
“It’s a little more of a challenge with less money, but we’ll make it work, and you’ll have our support to make it happen,” said Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, commander, U.S. Pacific Air Forces.
The JVEF board also updated its bylaws earlier this year, subsequently reorganizing its strategy groups from five to three, better aligning with the HIDOE 2018 strategic plan.
“The JVEF board of directors and general membership volunteers … work tirelessly to receive JVEF’s resources and programs, ensuring they are far-reaching and providing the best opportunities for all students,” said Katherine Matayoshi, superintendent, HIDOE, and JVEF executive co-chair.
“You will note that this is (a) forum,” Matayoshi added. “It’s not a task force; it’s not a work group. This is a place where all individuals come together to share our concerns and share our commitment to every student in our classrooms, and share a sense of partnership and shared responsibility for these children.”
Indeed, the focus of this year’s JVEF centered on the theme “Partnerships Shine — Ka Pilina ‘Olinolino,” which celebrated the 147 active military-school partnerships held within 136 schools statewide.
“We are very, very concerned that every military child and every military parent understands that they are part of our ohana, part of our family. That’s what the aloha spirit is all about,” said keynote speaker Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie in his remarks to the packed conference hall.
The annual meeting concluded by recognizing volunteer ambassadors from the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Hawaii National Guard for their contributions to Hawaii’s students, schools and local communities — be it through physical fitness initiatives, read-aloud days, campus beautification projects or taking students on a high-flying adventure in an F-22.
Schofield Barracks’ Hale Kula Elementary School received the JVEF Norbert Award for outstanding attention to the needs of transitioning families and students.
Tamsin Keone, director, School Support Services; Child, Youth and School Services; Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, was named the JVEF Outstanding Military Contributor for 2012.
Call the USAG-HI school liaison office at (808) 655-8326 or visit the the Military Families and Students, website for information on registration requirements, after-school programs, home school, and other school-related matters: