Montgomery, N.J., School District Superintendent Earl T. Kim has been named the new headmaster of Kamehameha Schools Kapalama, school officials confirmed this morning.
Kim, who has been superintendent of schools in Montgomery since 2008, will assume his new position at Kamehameha Schools on July 1. He will replace outgoing headmaster Michael J. Chun, who is headmaster and the 10th president of the campus, and earlier this year announced his plans to retire on June 30.
"I am pleased to announce that Earl Kim has accepted my invitation to join the Kamehameha Schools ‘ohana as our new Po’o Kula – Head of School – for the Kapālama campus," said Kamehameha Chief Executive Officer Dee Jay Mailer in a statement released this morning. "Earl will follow the path that Dr. Chun and the Kapālama ‘ohana have set in assuring educational excellence on a strong foundation of our Hawaiian ancestry, culture and language."
Kim graduated from Cornell University in 1984, and served as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, according to a biography of Kim posted on the Montgomery School District Web site. Montgomery School District serves about 5,300 students.
Kim began teaching at Trenton Central High School in 1988, and earned a Masters in Public Affairs, Domestic Policy Analysis from Princeton University in 1993. He served as Assistant Principal and Principal at two New Jersey high schools between 1993 and 2003, and was named District Superintendent of Schools for Verona Township in 2003. He became superintendent of Montgomery school district in 2006.
Kim was born and raised in Hawai’i grew up in Kaneohe and Palolo, and is a 1980 ‘Iolani School graduate, according to the Kamehameha statement.
Kim said he was "overwhelmed and deeply humbled," according to a statement from the school. "I have always known that this is what I was supposed to do with my adult life. This is something deeper than just taking responsibility for a school. It is taking responsibility for continuing the good work of Dr. Chun and the others who came before him, and for advancing the values and vision of Princess Pauahi on behalf of our children. This is stewardship of something sacred, and I can think of no higher purpose in life."
Kim was selected from a field of more than 150 candidates nominated and recruited from across the nation. He was among six semi-finalists interviewed, and three finalists who visited the campus in October for interviews by six review committees comprised of Kapālama faculty, students, alumni, parents, administrators and community members.
After reviewing the feedback from the different stakeholder committees and consulting with the trustees, the final decision to appoint Mr. Kim as Po`o Kula was made by Mailer, according to the Kamehameha statement.
"In my meetings and conversations with Earl, and through my review of his experience and references, I find a man who brings impressive experience and achievement in leading and managing large educational systems to excellence," said Mailer.
"Equally telling are the comments that came from our interviewing committees on his abilities and character. They describe a ‘passion for developing each student’s excellence; a passion for building each teacher’s excellence; collaborative; empowering; evidence and results orientation; a humble learner with high integrity and spirituality.’"
Kim is the youngest of three children who remembers moving around a lot as a youngster on O’ahu, living for a while in Kāne’ohe before the family moved to Pālolo so his parents could be closer to work and he and his siblings could be closer to school, according to the statement from Kamehameha.
"Home was a hard place to be, at times, so I ended up spending a lot of time at school," Kim shared. "Some mornings I would get dropped off at five o’clock and be there until after eight at night. But I felt safe there. I just remember so many people looking after me and caring about how I was doing, and that’s the environment I want at every school I am a part of – a safe, caring, nurturing place for children."
Kim and his wife, Kit, who is also an educator and who has taught in Hawai’i, have two children, ages 14 and 18.
"I left the islands at 17 and began to collect my thoughts about what my purpose in life was to be," Kim said. "I travelled the United States, Western Pacific, Europe and Asia to gain perspective on our place in the world. I had the good fortune of studying at great universities with wonderful teachers and fellow sojourners. I am eager now to apply my learning in the service of the people and the islands that I call home. I can think of no nobler pursuit, no better use for my education and experience. Our keiki deserve no less."
Kamehameha Schools is a private, educational, charitable trust founded and endowed by the legacy of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. Kamehameha Schools operates a statewide educational system enrolling nearly 6,900 students of Hawaiian ancestry at K-12 campuses on O`ahu, Maui and Hawai`i and 31 preschool sites statewide.