SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Leilehua High School boasts amenities for military youth and, now, principal of the year, too.Leilehua Principal Samiann “Aloha” Coleman has been selected as Hawaii’s 2011 High School Principal of the Year.Leilehua, with a student population of 1,900, has the most diverse student body in the state, with no ethnic majority and with students from all over the world. Strong military and community partnerships help strengthen the learning experiences for this ethnically- and culturally-diverse student population.About 25 percent of the student body is from military families stationed at Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Army Airfield and the Naval Communication Station in Whitmore, according to the school’s website.Supporting military families is a high priority at Leilehua.Principal Coleman herself is familiar with the hardship of military deployment; she has a son in the Army who has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.“Our entire staff understands the military lifestyle, and they are compassionate regarding the transitions each family faces every time they move to a new duty station,” Coleman said.The school’s Transition Center welcomes all new students with a tour and orientation to the school, and continues support as students transition into the new school setting.Leilehua offers a variety of electives in world languages and fine arts, as well as a gifted and talented program and advanced placement classes.“In addition, we recognize the struggles caused for families when a family member is deployed multiple times during the course of a child’s life,” she said. “Since education is a top priority for a family’s quality of life, we assure our deployed Soldiers that their children are well supported while they are away.”The Registrar’s Office and all the school’s counselors are familiar with accommodating students at all times of the year, and they ensure students meet the academic requirements of graduation. The counselors provide additional support to students having difficulty coping with the deployment of a parent.While being honored as principal of the year, Coleman praised the adults on campus who care about students.“They love the children they work with and will do anything possible to help them be successful,” she said. “I enjoy finding ways to empower and support the staff (members) to take their own initiative to enhance their craft and deliver quality educational services in a nurturing environment.”Coleman credits much of her success to varied mentors who believed in her and encouraged her to try.
“I learned a lot from watching others, reflecting on their experiences, applying that to the situations I faced, then reflecting on the effect,” she said.As Hawaii’s principal of the year, Coleman will go on to compete in the national competition.