Put a Bead on It!

How do you show your appreciation? The members of ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY’s Secondary faculty team do it with beads.

“Put a Bead on It!” is an initiative started by Secondary English teachers Laura Boles and Owen Williams to provide opportunities for Secondary faculty to show their appreciation for each other and help build community connections.

Each month, faculty members can nominate someone to receive a colored bead as an appreciation showing gratitude for support, recognition of their accomplishments, or to celebrate their general awesomeness. Each nomination for “Put a Bead on It!” is related to one of IPA’s 5 agreements (aloha, kuleana, ho’olohe, mālama, and pono), and each agreement corresponds to a specific bead color.

“Our intention with ‘Put a Bead on It!’ was to give the Secondary Faculty an opportunity to publicly acknowledge each other’s hard work,” explains Boles. “As the person who coordinates distribution of the beads, it’s awesome to see that each month, different people are participating – it’s not the same people nominating or being nominated, there’s always variety.”

All “Put a Bead on It!” recognitions are shared during the monthly faculty meeting, with nominees receiving their colored bead representing the agreement they are being recognized for. Each member of the Secondary faculty team has a keychain on which to put their beads as a way to proudly display their connection to the IPA faculty ʻohana.

“Looking at my keychain reminds me that my coworkers have my back,” shares Boles. “Teachers can be our own worst critics, so having other people remind me of things that I should be proud of, or remind me of ways that I’ve helped them, gives me encouragement.”

The “Put a Bead on It!” initiative nurtures robust and meaningful connections within the IPA faculty community and is part of ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY’s Puʻuhonua program. Meaning “a place of safe refuge” in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, the student Puʻuhonua program provides a safe space for students to share ideas, challenge assumptions, build connections, and create a sense of community.

The faculty Puʻuhonua program allows faculty to also benefit from the core pu`uhonua structure. Secondary faculty is split into small groups in ways that allow for relationship-building across disciplines, grade levels taught, and years at IPA. This intimate and casual environment encourages deeper discussion and reflection, enables all voices to be heard, and helps build community connection.

“Since we started ‘Put a Bead on It!’ as part of the development of our Pu`uhonua program, I have seen so many beneficial changes,” shares Williams. “I feel like I know members of the community better, I get to celebrate little successes, and feel like I am part of the accomplishments of others when I get to hear them being celebrated by peers. It feels so nice to get a simple recognition.”


Bulletin board display
A bulletin board on the Secondary third floor is dedicated to sharing about the Put a Bead on It! initiative.


Bulletin board display
A bulletin board on the Secondary third floor is dedicated to sharing about the Put a Bead on It! initiative.


Keychain with beads
Each Secondary faculty member has a key ring to display the beads they’ve been awarded.