Kupuna Life: over 50 years teaching special education, and still going strong

Kupuna Life

There is a treasure to be found at Aina Haina Elementary School. Her name is Sharon Souza. 

Here with two of her 8 grandchildren, here because her grandchildren go here, as all four of her children did. 

In all, more than 35 years at Aina Haina Elementary, the entire time, teaching what she’s been teaching for 53 years: special education. 

Sharon Souza, special education teacher: “People usually last about 5 years in special ed and then they go do something else.” 

Mrs. Souza believes all children are special, and children at this school feel the same about her. They want to be in her class. 

Addison Lopez, 3rd grader: “She’s kind, she’s sweet and she’s caring to other students.” 

Brendan Burns, principal of Aina Haina Elementary School: “She’s a very energetic person who’s dedicated to the kids. She goes the extra mile to make sure they develop as individuals and as learners.” 

She says her students energize her. Kids get a kick out of the way she expresses herself. 

Sharon Souza: “I dress the theme and I usually wear the menu every day. When I go out and I have a hot dog on or a pizza people say why are you wearing a pizza? But the kids like it and they look at me and say ‘oh we’re having pizza for lunch today, oh yay!’” 

Brendan Burns, principal: “That’s always in the back of our mind [that she might retire] but she’s still going strong.” 

Sharon Souza: “It was, ok 62 is the smartest time to retire, ok. Came and went. 65, 67 and whatever, 70. So I’ve just given up and said when I want to retire I’ll retire. But until that point in time, I’m here.”

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