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HMSA Member News > Board Member ProfileWinter 2003 IS Magazine1/1/03 IS Online

It’s All About the Kids

A Kamehameha grad explains why he loves his school -- and his job.

By Gwen Hulleman

Like so many other executive offices in Hawai'i, this one is rich with koa -- the desk, the bookshelves, the paneling. But two things make this one different: the lei-draped portrait of Ke Ali'i Bernice Pauahi Bishop and a shiny, 11-foot surfboard in the familiar blue-and-white Kamehameha School colors.

In this office, Michael Chun, Ph.D., president of Kamehameha Schools and headmaster of its Kapalama Campus on O'ahu, has hosted pleasant social gatherings, and also helped steer Kamehameha through recent controversies.

But you won't find Chun glued to his chair all day. He prefers the interaction on campus -- a community of 3,200 students in grades kindergarten through 12, and a staff and faculty of 650. Often, Chun will lunch with the students, take in a student play, watch a class presentation, or attend team practices and games.

"The greatest part of this job is the kids," says the 59-year-old Chun, smiling broadly. His affection for the students, and his commitment to them is well known -- especially by the kids themselves, many of whom consider him "uncle."

"It begins with the kids, but also includes wonderful, professional staff," he says. "When you see our song contest -- you take 1,800 high school kids and you put them on live television and you trust that they'll make good decisions regarding their behavior, their conduct, their performance -- that doesn't just happen. It takes a lot of hard work on the part of everybody. Amazing."

Chun, who took the top spot at Kamehameha in 1988, considers himself fortunate. "This has been a dream for me, not something that I ever thought would happen. Because when I graduated from Kamehameha, at that time, you would never, ever aspire to be anything other than a teacher here at Kamehameha, if that at all."

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