Longtime teacher shares the importance of Private Schools with Public Purpose

Creating meaningful partnerships among Hawaii's students

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Dr. Carl Ackerman is the founding director of the Clarence T. C. Ching PUEO Program at Punahou School, a program that reaches out to students at Hawaii’s public schools. He was a teacher at Punahou School for 28 years and also taught at Iolani School for nine years.

“Often when we have educational programs, the money doesn’t get to the children,” says Dr. Ackerman. “The difference in terms of resources expended on public school kids versus private school kids — that’s an obvious one. I just thought that everyone just needs a chance. Everyone needs an equal opportunity.”

Founded at Punahou School in 2005, the PUEO Program (Partnerships in Unlimited Educational Opportunities) aims to serve and support scholars with unlimited potential and limited economic resources. It embodies the essence of Punahou’s commitment to be a private school serving a larger public purpose through meaningful partnerships with other schools and educators. PUEO Scholars are supported with a 7-year academic scholarship from grades 6 – 12.

“What we’ve been doing for the last 15 years is trying to get public school kids into college,” Dr. Ackerman says. “By all estimates, Punahou School, for example, is donating about a million dollars every year to the PUEO kids and the PUEO Program. It’s a good connection between public and private entities.”

The PUEO Program provides a consistent and comprehensive summer learning program which includes year-round events to foster a cohort experience and continuum of learning. PUEO’s mission is to graduate scholars with the skills, confidence and resilience to be college ready.

Dr. Ackerman lives with his wife, Dr. Lyn Kajiwara Ackerman, and daughter Jennifer, a Punahou Senior. His oldest daughter, Dr. Laura Keiko Ackerman, is a professor of organic chemistry at Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona.

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