Alexandra Obra

Former student of Dr. Noreen Mokuau

UH Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work

Waiahole Elementary School Principal Alexandra Obra feels strongly that her job extends beyond the borders of her campus.

The school has only 100 students from kindergarten through sixth grade. More than half are Native Hawaiians. “A lot of our kids come from homes that don’t have a lot of resources,” she said.

Alex takes advocacy to another level, testifying before the state Legislature, the Board of Education and wherever else she may see as a funding source for her school, her students and the tiny Waiahole community of which the school plays a vital role.

With the help of an HEA continuing education scholarship, Alex recently completed the second in a series of online Harvard University courses designed to help educators hone their leadership skills.

She used her own money to pay for the first class because she was reluctant to tap school funds to pay for her personal education.

“The class was very important because I want to be the best school leader that I can. I’m servicing not just the students but our teachers, staff and our family members,” she said.

Alex credits Professor Noreen Mokuau, dean of the University of Hawaii Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work, for inspiring her to champion underdog causes.

“Dr. Mokuau’s work advocating for Native Hawaiians motivates me to be an advocate as well.”

Waiahole Elementary was established during King Kalakaua’s reign. Waiahole Valley itself is steeped in Hawaiian culture and played a vital role in Hawaii’s history.

“I try to incorporate the culture into the things we do here.”

Six years after becoming the school’s principal, Alex shows no signs that she’s leaving anytime soon. “I have a long commute every day, but there’s nothing like driving up the valley road, seeing the mountains and then getting to see the kids.”



Share your story with us! Our teachers are a great source of encouragement, inspiration and positive life transformations. Many of us have had a teacher who has made a major impact on our lives or helped us to simply do better.

HEA wants to showcase testimonials about amazing teachers to highlight the importance of our local educators. These stories will be featured throughout our website, newsletter and social media in 2021 as part of HEA’s 100th anniversary celebration.


More Teacher Stories

Jeff Stallman

Jeff Stallman

I only took one class from Jonathan (JP) Price at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, but it sticks with me to this day.

Jonathan (JP) Price

University of Hawaii at Hilo

Stephen Ching

Stephen Ching

Mrs. Dorothy Ono was quiet and serious, but her classroom was always open to us before and after school to just hang out.

Mrs. Dorothy Ono

Kaimuki High School

Coleby Kim

Coleby Kim

I wish Mr. Doike could teach me every day! He made a difference in my life because he was so nice and taught me so many things.

Joseph Doike-Foreman

Pearl Ridge Elementary School