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Esme Infante

Esme M. Infante is the education reporter at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. She comes with more than three decades’ experience in communications spanning radio, TV, print and digital media, and public relations.


Infante is an award-winning news reporter, editor, columnist and digital manager who has worked for The Honolulu Advertiser, USA Today and other local and national media outlets. Previous to joining the Star-Advertiser, she worked as newscaster and host on the highly rated “The Rise & Drive Morning Show with Devon & Esme” on 94.7 KUMU. Other prior positions include communications director for the late Congressman Mark Takai; promotions director for Islandwide Crafts & Food Expos; founder, chief executive and editor of Moms In Hawaii LLC; and founder of the broadcast journalism program at Mililani High School. She is a proud graduate of Mililani High School, and the University of Hawaii, where she graduated with distinction.


The education beat is close to Infante’s heart. She covered education in the 1990s for The Honolulu Advertiser. She is also a former classroom teacher from a family of educators, and the mother of one child in public school and another in the University of Hawaii system.
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                                Waiahole Elementary School.
Strategic plan outline for Hawaii’s public schools is OK’d

An ambitious first-phase framework for a new strategic plan for Hawaii’s statewide public school system that includes academic proficiency for every single student and qualified hires in every teaching position among its goals won unanimous approval Thursday from the state Board of Education. Read more

                                At top, a setup crew from E.K. Fernandez Shows installed barricades around the merry-go-round on the grounds of Punahou School on Wednesday.
Punahou Carnival ready to go, minus big thrill rides, games

As the Punahou Carnival this weekend finally opens to the public for the first time since 2020, the popular event is still suffering a pandemic hangover: It will be minus some signature features usually provided by E.K. Fernandez Shows, including large “thrill rides” such as the Ferris wheel, Zipper and bumper cars, as well as its major games section. Read more

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                                Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School Assistant Principal Esther Kwon was surprised Tuesday with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award and gave a short speech. She is among up to 40 outstanding recipients nationwide.
Inouye Elementary assistant principal wins $25K Milken award

Esther Kwon — a Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School educator whom some students fondly call “DJ Kwon” for her use of music to engage students in her class — was named Hawaii’s latest recipient of the prestigious Milken Educator Award at a surprise award ceremony Tuesday. Read more

                                Waianae Intermediate School in Waianae.
Feds award Hawaii Title I schools $73 million

Hawaii’s Title I public schools, which serve a disproportionate number of students living in poverty, will get $73 million in added federal funding for the 2023-2024 school year — an increase of $15 million over 2022. Read more

                                A new state initiative called Good Jobs Hawai‘i provides free training in a variety of professions. At top, student Kimmie Izumi, who is making a career change from the medical field, hones her skills in a welding technology class at Honolulu Community College.
Good Jobs Hawai‘i will offer free skills training, placement support

An unprecedented $35 million state initiative to provide free skills training and job-placement support for 3,000 Hawaii residents launches today, with leaders hoping to improve participants’ quality of life by increasing their earning potential, while easing labor shortages in some of the state’s high-demand industries. Read more

                                A modular building — popularly known as a portable — built for Kamehameha Schools is the type of structure envisioned for Hawaii public preschools under Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke’s “Ready Keiki” plan to create universal access to preschool.
Teacher shortage complicates Hawaii’s preschool plan

As the state embarks on its ambitious plan to offer universal access to preschool by creating 465 new classrooms by 2032, among the questions stakeholders are asking most is, How will so many additional preschool teachers be found in the midst of the state’s chronic teacher shortage? Read more

                                Hawaii Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Sylvia Luke.
State to unveil ambitious preschool plan for Hawaii

After decades of urgent calls for a statewide preschool system, a public- private plan finally is being launched to create 465 classrooms so that all Hawaii 3- and 4-year-olds can get access to preschool by 2032, Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke and community leaders are set to announce today. Read more

                                View of Bachman Hall on the Manoa Campus.
Senators take UH to task over spending

The University of Hawaii, already smarting from Gov. Josh Green’s changes to its requests to increase its biennial budgets, got no sympathy from state senators demanding more accountability on UH spending and leadership during a contentious meeting Thursday. Read more

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