The Fulbright-Cognition Scholar Award in Education Research is for a New Zealand educator or researcher to pursue research in the US designed to have an impact on New Zealand early childhood education or primary/secondary schooling and student achievement, for 2-5 months. One award valued at US $37,500 offered each year, applications close 1 October. For more information and to apply, please click here.
Enosa, the Principal of Mount Albert Primary School, researched ethnic minority leadership in American schools at the University of Hawai’I in Honolulu.
When I applied for the Fulbright-Cognition Scholar Award in Education Research, my project title was: Aspiring Ethnic Minority Leaders: A Pacific Island Perspective. This reflects the significant findings of this study and captures the intention of the original proposal.
I wanted to study ethnic minority leaders in schools, especially those in Principal positions, with the objective of examining their stories and experiences to see how they may provide insight into the aspirations of Pacific Island Deputy and Assistant Principals. I wanted to examine the conditions surrounding their aspirations towards principalship. I wanted to study their perspectives about encouraging aspiring minority groups towards leadership and especially principalship positions.
There is a crisis of minority under-representation in principal positions in New Zealand that requires understanding if the gap between student population and principal is to be bridged.
My research investigated the conditions surrounding the leadership aspirations of native Hawaiian working in Principal and Vice Principal positions in Hawaii.
It examined the conditions impacting their decision making toward achieving school Principal and Vice Principal roles as well as their perspectives on the number of native Hawaiian principals relevant to the student population in the Hawaiian education system. It is hoped that our understanding of native Hawaiian Principal and Vice Principal experiences may assist New Zealand policy makers in examining the dearth of minority Principals in the New Zealand education system.
From the findings of this study, I have concluded that ethnic minority’s aspiring to leadership roles have difficulties and challenges not faced by dominant groups.
There is a need to develop leaders for a diverse society. To meet this need a critical mass of minority teachers in the profession is required.
An immediate concern is the continual racial bias and discrimination faced by ethnic minority groups and particularly for those aspiring to principal positions. This study has significantly highlighted the importance of minority involvement in school leadership.
As the world population is becoming more diverse there is a need to develop leaders of schools who are capable of managing this diversity.
Before leaving to take up the scholarship I had very little understanding of the Hawaiian culture and its history.
My report provides compelling evidence of the level of understanding and appreciation that I have gained. Importantly I have proposed a Leadership model “21st Century Leadership: Leaders for a Diverse Society” as a result of this study.
I have grown as an educator and researcher and look forward to sharing the findings of this study with both Fulbright and Cognition New Zealand and the New Zealand Ministry of Education.
Experiencing another cultures way of life and learning to live and work as a ‘local’ has totally broadened my thinking. It has put New Zealand as a country into context with the world. We may be very small but I have an even greater appreciation of our education system and our way of life.
Hawaii is very complex having an overriding ‘American way of life’ but an underlying sub-culture of many Asian influences, in particular Japanese and Philippine. Underpinning this is the native Hawaiians sovereignty movement. This brought home to me the importance of preserving our own dual heritage whilst accommodating the many cultures that will now be influencing New Zealand’s education system.
I attended many multi cultural events, and visited numerous education facilities from K1 to K12. I met with many educational and CEO leaders as well as fellow Fulbrighters. In particular Fellow Fulbrighter Mr Kawaika Makanani, who provided me with comprehensive contacts of principals and administrators to ensure that I had available resources to start this study.
The host, University of Hawaii, through the Chair of the Indo-Linguistic and Languages Department Associate Professor John Mayer (Lasei Fepuleai) was very accommodating providing me with a desk and technology (internet, printer, telephone, fax etc) in their office. This was hugely appreciated and made writing the report a much easier exercise. He and his wife showed outstanding support in welcoming me and my family providing food supplies, transport, and most importantly advice on all the basic living questions like ‘where is the best place to shop for …….’ etc. The office staff and the Samoan departments hospitality were also significantly well received.
Having the opportunity to study in another country has left an indelible footprint on my life.
The complexities and make-up of the people living in Hawaii and its relationship to the native Hawaiian has led to my leadership model for 21st century: leaders for a diverse society. The challenge facing the native Hawaiian is similar to that of Maori in New Zealand. We are fortunate in New Zealand with the Treaty of Waitangi to guide the development of our dual heritage. The native Hawaiian on the other hand is fighting the survival of its language and cultural identity. Leadership provided by native Hawaiian themselves will be crucial to their identity amongst the new migrants.