World traveler, Mr. Kern, lands at KS Maui


Photo by Kainoa Deguilmo

Kumu Kern and Kaylee Cambra share a fun moment in Chemistry class. Kumu Kern joined the Kamehameha Maui staff in the fall.

In this great world, new chemistry teacher Mr. Ronald Kern has seen a lot, but the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Hailing from New Orleans, Kumu Kern said the people of Hawaiʻi remind him a lot of the folks back in Louisiana.

“[They both] enjoy life, and they get together and cook out,” he said. “They fry their fish just like we do.”

He recently attended the sophomores’ beach project on Pōʻalima ‘Ulaʻula, Red Friday, and said the new net throwing skills the students learned was like going home to New Orleans for a day of fun.

“One thing I want people to remember,” he said, “is that when you have culture, hold onto it tight, and don’t ever let it go.”

Kamehameha Maui was not Kumu Kern’s original destination this year.

He had initially planned on teaching at a school in the Chuuk State of the Federated States of Micronesia. He found the spot through a program called WorldTeach, which is an organization that positions teachers globally.

“I chose this place [Chuuk] because this was a situation where I could give back,” Kumu Kern said. “People have given so much to me throughout my life.”

His plans were changed when the school was destroyed by Super Typhoon Maysak in March of this year. People on the island were forced to take up living in the school itself.

“I was going to leave [for Chuuk], but a storm destroyed the island leaving nothing left,” Kumu Kern said. He said that he was fortunate, then, to be able to take a position with Kamehameha Maui.

Born and raised in New Orleans, Kumu Kern said that, like Hawaiʻi, “New Orleans is the melting pot.”

He grew up in Louisiana and went to school at Northwestern University in Natchitoches. Before that, he was an industrial teacher educating adults at a water treatment company, and he would travel to chemical plants to teach workers.

“I taught them chemical safety,” Kumu Kern said. “I also taught water science to them and treatment chemistry.”

Outside of school,  Kumu Kern explained that he loved to travel.

He originally lived in Louisiana, and from there moved to the U. S. Virgin Islands with his wife — first to Tortola, and afterwards, to St. Croix. From there they moved on to Miami and back to New Orleans, and they are now residing on Maui.

“Of all the places I’ve visited, Hawaiʻi is my favorite,” Kumu Kern said. “The people are very nice.”

Growing up, Mr. Kern played football in high school as a linebacker for DeRidder High School. Hunting and fishing also made up part of his childhood, and just like people here on Maui, Mr. Kern used to “throw net” to catch fish and shrimp.

“I mostly caught catfish, bass, crappie, speckled trout, redfish, and crabs,” he said.

Kumu Kern looks forward to being a part of the Kamehameha Schools Maui staff and community. You might see him with his wife, Mrs. Linda Kern, who is also working on campus as a substitute teacher.

He said that, for him, she “is the backbone of my existence. Without her I would be a sailor lost at sea.”