General News

Mid-Pacific's Kupu Hou Academy expands deeper learning professional development offerings for educators

Celebrating 10 years of serving Hawaiʻi educators and students

Posted on March 9, 2020 by Julie Funasaki Yuen

In 2019, Mid-Pacific's Kupu Hou Academy celebrated its 10th year as the leader in deeper learning professional development for educators. What began as a Hawaii Community Foundation "Schools of the Future" grant initiative, has grown into Hawaiʻi's leading teacher professional development academy for deeper learning understanding and implementation in schools across Hawaiʻi and beyond. Mid-Pacific's Kupu Hou Academy was created by Mid-Pacific teachers and administrators who are experts in deeper learning teaching practices that empowers students, and develops essential critical thinking and problem-solving skills for the jobs of tomorrow.

Deeper Learning is an active, student-centered approach to learning that focuses on:

  • Mastering academic content
  • Thinking critically
  • Solving complex problems
  • Communicating effectively
  • Working collaboratively
  • Learning how to learn
  • Developing academic mindsets

Kupu Hou 2019 group.jpg

The Kupu Hou Academy "Designing for Project-Based Learning" summer 2019 cohort and Mid-Pacific faculty instructors.

For a decade, Kupu Hou Academy has offered a four-day, summer professional development workshop where public, private, and charter school teachers across the state come together to learn from Mid-Pacific teachers about effective strategies for project-based learning. They spend four days intensively designing project curriculum, and refining methods for project assessment. In addition to this original "Designing for Project-Based Learning Workshop," the Academy now offers a variety of deeper learning professional development workshops that can be customized to meet the timing, budget, and educational needs of each school during the school year.

"The expansion of Kupu Hou Academy fits naturally within Mid-Pacific Institute's strategic aspiration to provide engaging and innovative learning experiences for both students and faculty on our own campus and to build authentic connections with other schools, community partners and organizations that expands teaching and learning opportunities for our faculty and students," says Mid-Pacific Vice President of Academic Affairs Leigh Fitzgerald.

"We have learned a lot over the last 10 years about how teachers and schools strengthen their practice and commit to a long-term adoption of 21st-century teaching and learning," shares Director of Kupu Hou Academy and founder of the Mid-Pacific eXploratory (MPX) project-based learning program, Dr. Mark Hines. "As Kupu Hou Academy has grown, we understand that schools need support not just during four days of the summer, but on a more continuous basis over the course of the year. We also know that no two schools need quite the same work, so we have developed a menu of choices that support schools at the early stages of adopting these ideas, to workshops that strengthen these ideas as schools get deeper into their practice," says Hines.

One of the greatest strengths of Mid-Pacific's Kupu Hou Academy is the local expertise that comes from Mid-Pacific teachers who are leading deeper learning practitioners with a decade of experience employing strategies in the classroom, and who understand the specific needs and interests of Hawaiʻi students and teachers in the Aloha State.

"Ultimately, much like schools understand that every learner is different and therefore needs a more personalized path, every school is different and has the opportunity to tailor their experience with us so that it is a best fit for them," explains Hines.

"The expansion of Kupu Hou Academy builds itself around truly knowing the schools with which we work," says Fitzgerald. "Multiple visits to their campuses, empathy interviews with teachers and school leaders, on-site and virtual coaching, all of the sustained and embedded supports that we know are imperative to improving student outcomes and keeping teachers engaged and inspired in their work."

"As learning continues to expand outside of traditional classroom walls, we all create more dynamic schools when we make connections across institutions," continues Fitzgerald. "As Kupu Hou Academy works with more public, private and charter schools, we not only inspire them with our practices and approach to deeper learning, but continually learn from the participants and their students as well."

With the newly expanded offerings, Mid-Pacific's Kupu Hou Academy also boasts a new logo and a redesigned website featuring a complete listing of all new program offerings. The logo is inspired by the strong and resilient kupukupu fern, a plant that is often first to sprout on a barren lava field. The lines of the logo reach up and are open, symbolizing growth, achievement and the constant pursuit of knowledge. At the same time, they point down and to the center, signifying deeper learning and the transformation that comes when reaching new depths of understanding.


Visit the redesigned Kupu Hou Academy website at

For a complete listing of course offerings and to learn more about how Mid-Pacific teachers impact more than 15,000 Hawaiʻi students each year via deeper learning teaching strategies, visit or email