Aloha mai e Uncle Mel, Uncle Keliʻi, Aunty Lois and the Naʻau ʻOhana!

Our daughter is an inquisitive, thoughtful learner who has done well at Noelani Elementary School (K-5). As we looked at where she would go for 6th grade, we wanted her to be in a learning community where she would continue to love learning while being challenged to soar, to excel. So,how do two Ph.D. parents prepare their child for the "rough and tumble" of test taking to get into private school? Well, we look for kakoʻo/support to assist our daughter to strengthen her skills and build her confidence. The "aloha", the embrace of the whole learner we found at Naʻau set a strong foundation for Kiana; who through your tutoring--from start to finish--sharpened her skills and became the "Queen of the SSAT!" She loved the crown by the way! She will be attending Mid-Pacific Institute in the fall. She is confident and happy. WE know that with your continued services she will continue to excel! Mahalo nūnui!

E mālama pono!
The Benham ʻOhana
Thank you for helping to make Na’au such a positive experience for Jason. With all of your patience, creativity, and love, Jason has achieved a lot this year. He started off on the right foot by having you as his teachers. Thank you, Uncle Mel and Auntie Lois. You have made a great difference for Jason. Because you care so much about him, you have directed him to trust himself in all that he does and to become all that he dreams.

Jon and Miho Aruga
To The Wonderful Staff of Na'au Learning Center,

We would like to send out a big "MAHALO" to everyone for your assistance in preparing our daughter for the Kamehameha Schools 4th grade testing. We feel with the months of tutoring she received, it not only helped her on her school work but it also assisted her on being one of the very fortunate children to be accepted into Kamehameha Schools.

We will definitely send her younger sister to you when it's her time to take the test.

The Hanawahine 'Ohana
Thank you so much for helping Ethan put his best foot forward in his private school application, we are absolutely certain his time at Na'au was instrumental in him being accepted to Kamehameha Schools. The supportive and welcoming environment at Na'au, patient tutoring, and personalized mentoring gave Ethan the confidence and practical skills that prepared him for the testing and interviewing process. We are very grateful for all of your hard work and have already recommended Na'au to our family and friends who are looking to help their children be their best in their private school testing preparation.

Amy Kim, Mother of Ethan
Dear Uncle Mel, Auntie Lois, Auntie Tara and the entire Naʻau Ohana,

We wanted to share some wonderful news with you. We received the 4th grade entry acceptance letter from Punahou for our daughter Morgan! Thank you so much for all your patience, guidance and support - you have all helped bring out the best of her. We are so happy that she will be attending Punahou and we're certain the skills that she learned at Na'au will help her continue to succeed! Thank you again for everything!

Will and Tracy Hom
Parents of Morgan, Punahou School
Our family is still celebrating Logan’s acceptance to Punahou. Last year we joined your Kindergarten Readiness program, but what we really joined was an ʻohana where his educational well-being was our collective focus. He has grown tremendously when I recall where he started from – not knowing his alphabets or numbers to today – spelling words, writing sentences, adding numbers, and drawing beautiful detailed pictures. With gentle prodding he has also improved in his ability to actively listen and focus. I have and will continue to recommend Naʻau to other families. And we hope in the not too distant future our youngest son will also be attending Naʻau where once again we can witness his growth.

Mahalo nui loa,
Kalena Kawahakui-Chun, Logan’s mom
Dear Uncle Mel and all at Naʻau,

Thank you for for making the SSAT prep course fun and interesting for Matthew. He truly enjoyed going to your summer program and we were pleasantly surprised when he said he wanted to continue going to Naʻau during the semester. With your help, he seemed well prepared and confident for his middle school interviews. We wanted to let you know that he got into all four of the schools that he applied for and has decided to go to Punahou.

Mahalo again,
Jodi and William G., Parents of Matthew G.

Dear Uncle Mel and Aunty Lois and all the Na'au Team,
A huge mahalo for your support and wealth of experience in preparing Caitlyn for her SSAT tests and interviews. She felt very calm going into the test, and spoke with confidence in her interviews since she was well prepared. We were amazed at how much she kept her cool throughout the entire process, in spite of a very full schedule and so much going on, and this was thanks to all the great preparation from Na'au. She was so excited to be offered a place at Mid-Pacific Institute, and we think the school will be a great fit for her. We really appreciate how flexible and accommodating you have been throughout the tutoring process. Thank you also for your help in tutoring Liam with his writing - he will be seeing you soon when it is his turn to prepare for SSAT tests too!
Mahalo nui loa,
Hazel Ito and family

Hi Uncle Mel, Aunty Lois & Uncle Keliʻi-

I wanted you folks to know that last week was a whirlwind with Zacary getting into Punahou and ʻIolani for 7th grade. We are so excited and only now has it begun to sink in. We owe so much to Naʻau, and every chance I get, I tell everyone how much you have touched our lives and really prepared Zacary for the next step.

We have some huge decisions ahead of us, but are so excited that Zacary is getting this incredible opportunity to further himself both socially and academically. Will definitely be back this summer...just trying to figure out our schedule.

Thank you again!

Lots of love (hugs & kisses) to all of you at Naʻau!
Wendy Tenn, Mother of Zacary
Aloha Naʻau,

Just wanted to thank you for the SSAT prep sessions with Julia. She gained so many strategies and added knowledge that she went into testing comfortable and prepared. As a result, she got accepted into ʻIolani School. Once again, thank you for time, patience, and efforts!

Much Mahalo,
Jay & Kris Visaya, Parents of Julia
I wanted to share all of Makakoa's amazing accomplishments with you.

Makakoa felt he did well in the Kamehamea schools testing and interviews. He said he felt prepared with all the extra studying and tutoring you folks provided him. He felt confident in his answers on the test and in the interview. It was a positive experience for him because he was well prepared by you!

Makakoa has also made leaps and bounds in his school work and has become a star student at Kalākaua Middle School. He has made the honor roll twice and was added to the dean's list in the second quarter with a 4.0 grade average. He was selected to represent the 6th graders in the science fair district finals. He was awarded Student of the Month for February and continues to impress teachers with his writing and math skills. He may also be having the opportunity to travel this summer with a group of select students on a "science/engineering trip" and was recommended by teachers to become a part of AVID.

Our ʻohana cannot thank you enough for all that you have done for him! You have mentored Makakoa and have helped him to excel beyond our expectations. We appreciate the spirit of aloha and ʻohana we feel whenever we walk through your doors.

Luisa Pelletier , Mother of Makakoa

Hi Aunty Lois and Uncle Mel,
Just to let you know, Mia will be attending Mid Pac in the fall for 6th grade. That was her first choice so she is ecstatic. Thank you again for all your hard work trying to get Mia ready for the SSAT. We feel relieved knowing that she got into a great she's just got to do her best and make the most of her Mid Pac experience.

Michelle Nakagawa, Mother of Mia

Aunty Lois and Uncle Mel, did you feel a slight earth tremor about 5pm-ish today?  I admit it was me getting down on my knees to say my prayers to thank Heavenly Father and Na'au for Ikaika's invitation to attend Kamehameha School as a freshman this coming 9th grade year.

Please accept mine and Kalani's and Ikaika's heartfelt expression of gratitude to you both for guiding and prepping Ikaika to do his very best during the Kamehameha's 9th grade admission process.  Taking the SSAT was a very good experience for Ikaika, as well as for us.  Itʻs taught us that preparation for admissionʻs testing is very, very important.

Wow. . . thank you both for all of your teaching him how to shine academically as a student and as a person.  With a grateful heart, mahalo. 

Marylyn Kaʻahanui, mother of Ikaika Kaʻahnui
Attending Kamehameha Fall 2013

Aloha Uncle Mel,

We wanted to give our many thanks in having Hiʻilei be a part of your Test Prep program. . . As you can see by the pre and post-test she improved in ALL areas. Thanks to Naʻau's hard work and dedication in giving Hiʻilei confidence and knowledge she was able to score higher. We truly feel Hiʻilei is a smart and hard working girl who tries her best, but we do want to emphasize that had it not been for the Naʻau ʻOhana these scores would not have been achieved. We will forever be grateful.  Mahalo.

Angie and Kamu Anderson, parents of Hiʻilei Anderson
Attending Kamehameha Fall 2013

I am pleased to announce that Brooke has been wait listed for Punahou and accepted to Hawaii Baptist Academy, ʻIolani and Kamehameha Schools. I think we are leaning towards choosing Kamehameha Schools…

We are very thankful for all of the test and interview prepping that she received at your institution. We feel that it has helped her tremendously in the whole process.


Desha Ramos, mother of Brooke Ramos

[We] wanted to thank Na`au and let you know that Lauren was accepted by both Punahou and ʻIolani.  Right now we are undecided as to where we will send her but if you have any thoughts on which school would be a better fit for her, we would appreciate your thoughts.  Thank you again for everything.  

Mother of Lauren
Attending Punahou Fall 2013

Thank you for preparing Taylor to take the SSAT test. Taylor is still in shock about being accepted at Punahou. Our family and friends are totally thrilled. I am thankful with the outcome and feel that Punahou will challenge Taylor and maximize her potential. Our heartfelt mahalo for all your help in preparing Taylor for admissions into Punahou. We wish you all the best at the center.

Margie Abe Mother of Taylor (Punahou)
Thank you so much for all your help in preparing Jonah for the private school admission testing process. Everyone at Naʻau has been absolutely wonderful. I just wanted to let you know that Jonah was accepted to both ʻIolani and Kamehameha for seventh grade next year. Choosing between the two is a difficult decision to make, but we do recognize that we are blessed to be in this “win-win” situation. I just wanted to say thank you again. We will be sure to let you know what we decide.

Keahi & Peter Birch
Parents of Jonah Kulanakila
With each glimpse of Naʻau, when I'm on Vineyard Boulevard, I pay homage as if Naʻau is my church of worship. We are still basking in awe to realize that Keilen got accepted to Iolani, Punahou and Mid-Pacific. Beyond that admission process, the rewards reaped from learning at Naʻau never end as he recently got offered an invitation to join the John Hopkins University for Talented Youth by scoring in the 98 percentile nationally for math. He also took a national exam at his school recently and received a 98 percentile overall (99 percentile in vocabulary) in reading.

Kelis also got offered an invitation by scoring in the 97the percentile nationally for reading comprehension in the private school sector (the results indicated that her score would have been higher in the public sector) and 98th percentile for math.

Gratitude will always be in the forefront of my mind when I think of Naʻau.

Claire Oshita,
Mother of Kelis (ʻIolani) and Keilen (ʻIolani)
Aunty Lois and Uncle Mel: Now that Kori has made her difficult decision about which school she will be attending I can sit back and thank you for all Naʻau has done and will continue do with Kori. We were pleasantly surprised that Kori got accepted to both Iolani and Punahou schools. Thank you for helping her with her writing skill all these years and most recently with her SSAT testing skills. Most especially thank you making Naʻau a place where she can learn and have fun in the process. Mahalo! Gwen Okamoto, Mother of Kori, Maʻemaʻe
It is hard to believe that Malia has been a student of Naʻau for five years! I can sincerely say that Naʻau has shaped her personal and academic development. Naʻau has provided Malia with exceptional opportunities to show her creative spirit. There are many wonderful experiences that Malia has had at Naʻau but one that is particularly memorable is the time that Governor Lingle read her poem “Golden” at the “Take Your Pet to Work Day”. On that day, Malia proudly brought our beloved Golden Retriever, “Reno” with her to meet the Governor. Through Naʻau, Malia has won many writing and art awards, and has gained experience in public speaking. She was only in first grade when she memorized her poem and presented it in front of hundreds of people at the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Poetry Contest.

I am so grateful to Uncle Mel and Aunty Lois for preparing Malia for admission to private school. The atmosphere was low-key, low pressure and nurturing. I especially appreciated that the SSAT prep course focused on the whole child and was much more than drilling for a standardized test. Malia received acceptances to middle school from Iolani, Punahou and Mid Pacific Institute. She is so fortunate to be in a position to choose among these excellent private schools, thanks in large part to growing up with Naʻau. Thank you Uncle Mel and Aunty Lois for bringing out the creative potential in Malia!

Barbara Brooks
Mother of Malia Brooks, Waialae School
I wanted to let you know that, just as you have had a tremendous impact on so many children's lives here in Hawaiʻi, you have also had a major impact on Keapolani's life. Since he worked with you and Mel at Naʻau, he actually loves to write, and loves writing poetry, in particular. He also has a great deal of confidence in his own thoughts and his ability to express them through writing. He's certainly thrilled about it, and I am still pretty speechless... Truly, you have had an amazing affect on him, both with respect to his academics and his confidence. Mahalo again for being. You are truly amazing people that affect so many, so deeply. I know that Keapolani will always cherish the time that he spent at Naʻau, and the impact that you have had and continue to have on him.

Dr. Sam L. Noʻeau Warner for Keapolani K. Palmeira Beamer
From the depths of our hearts, we want to express our gratitude to Uncle Mel, Aunty Lois, and all of the other wonderful Naʻau aunties and uncles who have helped Ethan mature and gain confidence throughout the years. Thanks to their hard work and faith in Ethan’s abilities, he has been accepted to Punahou, MidPacific Institute, and Maryknoll schools. The dream of “our boy” attending a private school just became a reality! This would not have been possible without the awesome work that they do in the SSAT Prep workshop and tutoring sessions. More importantly, though, we have witnessed Ethan’s transformation from unsure writer and reluctant math student to expressive author and confident problem solver! We are forever grateful that we have found a place that teaches with love and kindness and always with the best of intentions for our son. We confidently place our most precious gift, Ethan, in the capable hands of our Naʻau friends.

Mel and Denise Nakaoka
Parents of Ethan, Waialae School
Naʻau has made a world of difference for Kellie. It has given her the confidence to stand up in class and read her papers with confidence and when she writes, it gives her a way to express herself and to open up. All of you there have made Naʻau like a second home to her -- it has become a part of her life. Lois, thank you and Mel for helping Kellie.

David and Erin Yamada
Parents of Kellie, Sacred Hearts Academy
Our family has been blessed by having Cody (age 9) attend Naʻau. He simply loves going there. This is a boy who didn't like to write. If asked, he probably would say he still doesn't like to write but that he loves going to Naʻau because he gets to use his imagination, have fun and play games. The truth is - in all that "fun," he is inspired to write poetry and stories, and think critically. And he's enjoying reading! In less than four months after starting Naʻau, his 3rd grade school reading test scores improved by 2 grade levels (from late 2nd grade to mid-5th grade). His scores since have consistently continued to improve.

For me, I love how Aunty Lois, Uncle Mel, Aunty Lindsay, and everyone at Naʻau conduct themselves -- the kids learn in such a respectful, loving, peaceful atmosphere. I wish every child in Hawaiʻi could have such joyous learning. Naʻau is a magical place.

Leslie and Clarence Pacarro
Parents of Cody, Hahaʻione School
We wanted to write to express all of our gratitude to Naʻau: Puʻuwai will be a Kamehameha student this Fall. I spoke to the admissions office at Kamehameha for a short debriefing, just to get an idea of what was the key thing that helped her. All around she did great. Grades were solid. The interviewer scored her high. Her test scores were above average, but what stood out was her essay. They were very impressed by her essay. We are thankful and blessed to have Naʻau in our lives. Your interview and essay test preparation were key factors in her success. Now that Puʻuwai will be at Kamehameha with her younger sister, I just have my youngest one left. So I will be e-mailing you about a summer program for him very soon. Again, mahalo Aunty Lois and Uncle Mel for everything. - Kalau Robins Mother of Puʻuwai, Kamehameha
We are thrilled to report that Tiana has received acceptance letters from Mid Pac, Kamehameha, Punahou, and Iolani Thank you for the wonderful support. I know she couldn't have done this well without the help she received from her Uncle Mel and Aunty Lois. Her writing has improved a lot and I see her applying many of the strategies that she has learned from Naʻau in her daily studies. I fully believe that Tiana's years at Naʻau have prepared her for this great achievement. Tiana continues to enjoy her learning time with you and our ʻohana gives Naʻau the credit for her private school admissions success--she wouldn't have done so well without all that she has learned from your center. We have until April 15th to make a decision. What do we do now? Mahalo nui loa, Naʻau!

Nalani Koch,
Mother of Tiana, St. Andrews Priory
Thank you to both Aunty Lois and Uncle Mel for your wonderful support and guidance throughout this school year. It is evident given Brandi's comments and her work that she has benefited in so many ways from her experience at Naʻau. I love it and am happy for the fact that Brandi enjoys and looks forward to her time at Naʻau. She never gives me the impression that it's more work for her. Naʻau has provided a positive and nurturing environment in which Brandi has been encouraged to explore herself in a creative format. Her poems have often been the impetus for discussion we've never had before, which in the end left me to learn things I never really knew about Brandi. These discussions contributed to a closer relationship and better understanding of one another. This is definitely a bonus that was not part of my initial expectations. Thank you. There are many more examples and stories to share but what they all speak to is the wonderful service Aunty Lois and Uncle Mel provide to the children and families. Naʻau is ohana and it's very evident in all that you do.

Lori Nakamoto
Mother of Brandi, Punahou School
Thanks for all you have done for my children. I am very proud of Alyssa because she has increased her verbal and reading comprehension SSAT scores to meet her goals. She has also gained a lot of self-confidence in the process.

Kris Poentis
Mother of Alyssa and Kaitlyn, Maemae Elementary
When we enrolled our son at Naʻau a year ago, the goal was to help him get into the 7th Grade at Mid-Pacific in 2009. With your help and support, Gavin will be attending 6th Grade at MPI this year! Your team not only improved his writing skills, you also customized a program that helped him with the entire application/interview process for Mid-Pacific. Thank you so much for taking such a personal and loving approach to teaching Gavin. We feel so fortunate to have been part of your ohana. Naʻau is a nurturing, inviting place for both student and parent. The staff at Naʻau are always gracious, accommodating, and encouraging. After only a few months at Naʻau, we were surprised to learn that our son placed first in his category for the Board of Water Supply calendar contest!

Debbie Watabayashi
Mother of Gavin, Mid-Pacific Institute
Diane Low has made such a fantastic progress in her writing which makes her more confident since joining Naʻau one year ago. We see her working on poems at home on her own as well. She has won numerous art and writing awards due to your help which include the Board of Water Supply Poster/Calendar contest as well as international awards. She recently was accepted to Punahou School as a 6th grader. Punahou School is her first-choice school, so she is very excited.

Our son, Brandon Low, a freshman at Punahou, has also seen a great difference in his writing. His writing has greatly improved under your supervision. He concentrated predominantly in math and science prior to coming to Naʻau. Now he is a persuasive writer and working on his creativity.

Mahalo for your help for both of our children,
Barbara And Jim Low
Parents of Diane and Brandon, Punahou students
After learning tips for the SAT writing section at Naʻau, my essay score went from a 9 to a 12 (maximum score). The overall SAT score went up a hundred points and I got a 790 (out of 800)! Thank you Aunty Lois and Uncle Mel -- you are the best!

Mie Omori, Iolani School
Daughter of Clarice Hashimoto and Gary Omori
We'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for your love, support, and healing, loving guidance. We are truly grateful for you! Thank you for providing Chase with a safe, loving, unconditional space to freely express himself. What a gift!

Glen and Janey Lindbo
Parents of Chase, student at Iolani School
Sammi enjoyed the Paragraph Writing Institute. She told me that she felt really inspired to write at Naʻau. There have been few times after the class when she would say, "Uncle Mel taught me that." I'm so glad she had the chance to learn from you. My intention was to give her a different experience with writing -- one that she would not get in public school. Learning from writers boosted her excitement about writing. I think Naʻau is a great place and the inspiration begins when you enter the door -- so beautiful, calm, and relaxing. Thanks so much for your kindness.

Joyce Larson, Teacher
Mom of Samantha Kei, Maunawili Elementary School
Lois and Mel have brought out the best in our daughter, Kristen. Since attending Naʻau, we have not only seen a great improvement in her writing skills, but she has also become a confident writer. She used to dislike writing, but now ENJOYS it and can't wait to attend her next Naʻau class. She is able to express her inner feelings better and put it into words. Sometimes we are really surprised at the poems she brings home for us to read. Terrific.

Kristen told us that "Aunty Lois and Uncle Mel make writing fun!" What a big difference in her attitude. We love it! Kristen was recently accepted to all the private schools she applied to (Iolani, Punahou, Mid Pacific Institute), and we know that Naʻau played a big part in her success. Now we have the pleasant job of selecting one of them! We are truly grateful to Mel and Lois for all the love and guidance they give Kristen every week. We also feel very fortunate to have found Naʻau and to become part of your ʻohana. We love you Lois and Mel. You are the greatest!

Derek and Shirlene Tanabe
Parent of Kristen, Kane'ohe Elementary School
Naʻau has become an integral part of our lives and the Naʻau ʻohana has enhanced our lives tremendously! Naʻau provides more than skills in language arts, math and test taking. Naʻau provides support, knowledge and a warm spirit. Naʻau has given Ashley and Lahela confidence in writing, speaking and communication in their daily lives, not just in school. Ashley has more direction and focus, and is enjoying the honors program at Kamehameha. Lahela is more confident and comfortable in test taking and writing. The SSAT prep has helped Lahela in all areas of applying to private high schools. She did so well on the SSAT, writing samples, and interviews that she has received acceptance letters from Kamehameha, Iolani, Punahou and Maryknoll. Naʻau has truly enriched the lives of the whole Williams ʻohana!

Gina M. Williams
Proud parent of Ashley (Kamehameha) and Lahela (TBA)
We are so fortunate to have Aunty Lois and Uncle Mel in our lives. They have enriched our learning by sharing their wisdom and love. Both of our girls enjoy their classes and look forward to each and every session. This is what true learning is all about.

Rod and Rhonda Nagao, Parents of Lauren and Haley, both students at Iolani School
I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart! My two sons, Matt and Kyle, just completed your summer Fiction Writing Institute and I could not believe the three writings that they completed in just one week time period! It was amazing! Their writings had me crying, laughing and just grinning ear to ear with pride! I am amazed at how colorful and descriptive their writings were! Thank you so much for giving them this gift!

Tina Tsubota
Parent of sons Kyle, Our Redeemer Lutheran, and Matt, Lutheran High School
Uncle Mel and Aunty Lois, I cannot thank you enough for making creative writing fun for my children. They now look forward to Mondays, especially Deja. Out of all the other extra curricular activities I've ever put my children through, this is by far the best investment I've made for them.

Valerie Holt-Parker,
Mom of Deray, St. Anthony; Divon, Maʻemaʻe; & Deja, St. Theresa
The funny thing is you would think that students would welcome not having to go to extra classes to study. But the twins really look forward to going to Naʻau. They are sincerely disappointed that they cannot attend your classes all the time. We consider ourselves so blessed to have found you both because they get so much more than just mere instructions. I can't thank you enough for the impact you have made in my children's lives.We really love you guys.

Pauline & Larry Nomura
Daughters Janelle & Julianne, both students at Punahou
I was pleasantly shocked to read the poems that my daughter wrote after only six months of writing lessons. She has really improved on her overall writing skills.

Eddie Flores, Jr., Founder, L&L Drive Inn
Father of Ellice, Kalani High School student
MAHALO PLENTY!!!! I think there is a bright light at the end of Marisa's tunnel now. She is much happier with your help.

Ann and Keith Shigetomi
Parents of Marisa Shigetomi, Roosevelt High School
Naʻau is a wonderful venue for aspiring writers of any age or aptitude. They've made a tremendous difference for me, offering a customized writers' workshop that has lent structure, purpose, and invaluable feedback to my writing process."

Malia Mattoch McManus

A Testimonial for Naʻau's SAT/College Prep Classes:

Naʻau Learning Center has given me the support needed to improve and succeed in my writing skills.  The teachers are the most heart-warming people I have ever met and the atmosphere is very welcoming.  They have helped me with the SAT, college admissions, and scholarships.  I am truly grateful for their help because without them, I wouldn't be where I am today. Thank-you Na`au for everything you've done!

Keelan Okazaki, 2013 graduate of Mililani High School
Attending Creighton University Fall 2013

"I am proudly bi-lingual, but it wasn't always this way. Pivotal moments in my education - like reading Lois-Ann Yamanaka's Name Me Nobody - shook my core and helped to unleash a love and appreciation for Hawaii Creole (Pidgin). For the first time, I saw my mother tongue in print. A language once connected to shame became the deepest expression of my identity. Lois-Ann and Melvin Everett Spencer III helped me find the power, beauty, and brilliance in a language that felt most like home. It sat nicely on my lips. It told a truer story. It resided in my na'au. Thank you Uncle Mel and Aunty Lo for validating my voice and my worth so many years ago."

Kim Roman, former Na'au student, current amazing educator!
"Lois-Ann and Mel are wonderful mentors. After spending fifteen years writing computer and science materials, I wanted to write a novel. I come away from every class with specific techniques to improve the writing and structure of my novel, as well as the creative inspiration and emotional support to continue writing. We laugh a lot in class, too."

Beverly Lynn Wilson, Technical Writer, Trainer, and Software Consultant
It's been truly a blessing that we found Naʻau, Lois-Ann Yamanaka and Mel Spencer. I'm a strong believer that if you can read, you can be successful in all that you do -- writing, comprehension and understanding.

This area has always been a struggle for our eighth grader. It's been six months since she first started at Naʻau and many rewards have come to her. Her writing constantly surprises us. Is this truly our daughter? One of her pieces was chosen as an honorable mention in the Honolulu Advertiser's "About Rice" contest and two other writings have been submitted to the Hawaii Educator's Association writing contest. She suddenly loves to read, much to my delight, and always has a book in her hands.

You know this is a good place for your child when she constantly asks when her next class is or wants to go an extra day. Thank you Lois-Ann and Mel for nurturing and bringing the best out of Courtney. The love and support you provide for all your students is truly unconditional, and I know, straight from your Naʻau.

Jo Ann Lelepali
Mother of Courtney, Punahou student
Something to make your day: Keilen just started school yesterday so last week he was a little apprehensive about starting a new grade level. To "dilute" his fears I told him that his new teacher is really nice and understanding and our whole family is so happy to have her as your teacher. His response was, "NO ONE can be as nice as the man at Naʻau!!!" My kids really love you (Lois too)! My children did not have a love for writing, but you and Lois infuse magic in your program because now, Kelis and Keilen yearn to come to Naʻau every day.

Claire Oshita, Teacher Kaewai Elementary
Mother of Kelis and Keilen, both Hanahau'oli students
Before attending Naʻau, I was having difficulties with my writing. Although I was a bit apprehensive at first, your positive attitudes and knowledgeable guidance impacted my writing and overall I improved significantly. With your help I was able to achieve a high score in the writing portion of the GMAT. Thank you for all your help!

Keric Chang, Graduate Student
My progress with Lois Ann Yamanaka and Mel Spencer has been very rewarding this last year. On September 20, Bamboo Ridge Press will release their 25th Anniversary issue, in which my piece "Miss World" will be included. Also in November, Kuleana Oʻiwi Press will publish Volume 3 of Oʻiwi: The Native Hawaiian Journal, which includes my poem "Howl at the Womb: With Thanks to Allen Ginsberg." With both publications highlighting my work, I can definitely affirm that Naʻau is helping me to acquire strong writing skills and deftly nurturing my writing ability.

Lois Ann Yamanaka and Mel Spencer mentor and teach all writers of all levels. If any one is wanting to nurture their own creative writing, learn new methods of writing or work on analytical writing (like thesis papers or dissertations) this would be a warm, safe and constructive place for them to gain feedback and help with their manuscripts and papers. It is definitely an all encompassing program.

Wendie Joy Burbridge, English Teacher, Kamehameha High School
Aloha Lois & Mel - Alec paid the most thoughtful compliment to Naʻau. As I was walking with him to class yesterday, he said, "When I grow up and have a child, I'm going to send him to this class." I asked him if he thought that Aunty Lois would still be teaching then. He said, "Well, maybe not, but maybe I can be the teacher!". That's the first time I have ever heard him look to the future in this manner, and I was so pleased!! (Alec was too!)

Dawn Suyenaga
Mother of Alec Hoʻaleʻe, Hanahauʻoli student
My children have always been creative, but you have given them the gift of being able to organize and express it. Somehow you get their 200 mile a minute minds (and mouths) to slow down, focus and stay organized.

One of my weekly highlights is to make the trek to "lower Nuuanu", past Cheep Ass Cigarettes, and a host of "fast cash" storefronts, up two flights of stairs (pant pant) to my favorite door on the island. I love standing at your front door reading all the creative poems and stories. I also know when I enter your "club house" I will be greeted by two excited and happy children, with works that never fail to surprise me and make me proud (although I sometimes feel that my role in this is only that of the pliant chauffeur).

Dr. Monte Elias
Father of Sarah and Keith, both Punahou students
My older daughter started taking classes with Lois Ann Yamanaka two and a half years ago when she was a third grade homeschooler. For some reason, even though I am a professional writer -- or because I am -- writing was the one subject I could not teach her. No matter how gently I commented on her poems or essays, she felt as if I were criticizing her and would burst into tears. At Naʻau, my daughter has blossomed into both an award-winning poet who has been published in several national magazines and -- more importantly -- an insightful and articulate young person.

Her younger sister, who will start Kindergarten this fall, sees only that poetry class is "fun," and can't wait to join the class herself.

Nora Okja Keller,
author of Comfort Woman and Fox Girl
Mother of Tae and Sun Hi, both Punahou students
"A warm atmosphere, a place where someone can relax and have fun while writing poems--it is the perfect place in which one can write, laugh, and learn."

David Imanaka, Iolani student
"I would like to say that Naʻau has changed my life. I have always wanted to be a writer but never was provided with the proper direction to translate my feelings and ideas into words. Not only has working on a potential novel rejuvenated my spirit, but it has also provided me with a means to work through negative past events. I am so grateful to both Lois-Ann and Mel for all of their guidance and support."

Maria B. J. Chun, student

"Dear Naʻau: I am excited to inform you that Ms. Luana Panui (your student, my daugther) has been accepted to Kamehameha School for the 7th grade. We are so thankful for all the help that you've given Luana. She credits much of this accomplishment to you both (Uncle Mel & Aunty Lois) and your staff. Your aloha and dedication to Luana (and all your students) show in their confidence to take on competitive challenges (exams). Luana scored well in the testing area and was extremely happy with her performance in her interview and her writing sample. She took on the challenge with poise and kept all your teaching in mind. Thank you so much for your help. We hope to have her join you this summer for extra preparations for the new and exciting school year."

~Maelee Panui,
mother of Luana Panui, Kamehameha

We are so fortunate to have Aunty Lois and Uncle Mel in our lives. They have enriched our learning by sharing their wisdom and love. Both of our girls enjoy their classes and look forward to each and every session. This is what true learning is all about.

~Rod and Rhonda Nagao,
parents of Lauren and Haley, both students at ʻIolani School
A haven - that is the first word that came to mind when we first walked into Naʻau. To me, a haven is a safe place where one can heal and blossom in a warm and nurturing environment. The pervasive feeling is one of encouragement and support. To me, this is what sets Naʻau apart from the rest.

~Debra Nakagaki,
mother of Kristyn Wong, ʻIolani
Cole tested recently for Punahou and was invited to start this fall as a 4th grader. We are most confident that the lessons taught at Naʻau had much to do with the invitation. Thank you for working with Cole and showing him that writing can be fun.

~Corey and Cheri Okuno,
parents of Cole Okuno
Thank you for preparing Taylor to take the SSAT test. Taylor is still in shock about being accepted at Punahou. Our family & friends are totally thrilled. I am thankful with the outcome...Our heartfelt mahalo for all your help in preparing Taylor for admissions into Punahou. We wish you all the best at the center.

~Margie Abe,
mother of Taylor Abe, Punahou

Dear Uncle Mel and Aunty Lois-Ann, on behalf of our ʻohana, I just wanted to extend a very sincere Mahalo and thank you for all the love and Aloha you share with our beloved ʻopio. Our son Elliott just finished up his first quarter in 7th grade as a new admittee to Kamehameha with a 4.0 GPA. We have no doubt that your excellent program assisted him greatly in both gaining admission to Kamehameha as well as his current academic excellence. The warm, nurturing and loving environment you provide at Naʻau to help all children feel safe, loved, and valued combined with your tutoring program to help expand their confidence, knowledge, capabilities and strategies for learning is a blessing to all who pass through your doors. Keep up the good work and mahalo again for giving so much of yourselves to the bright enlightened future of our planet to help fulfill the unfinished dreams of our beloved kūpuna in making this a brighter, more beautiful World.

~Kai Markell,
father of Elliott Markell, Kamehameha

Aloha Aunty and Uncle,


I have been telling myself for weeks to email or call to let you know that Nainoa was accepted to Kamehameha for kindergarten! I wanted to thank everyone there who helped Nainoa. He was a lot more confident then we were that he would get in.  He kept telling us not to worry that he was "in". I guess he knew more then we did.  He is so excited to start school. I am looking forward to sending my other two grandsons next year.


Mahalo from my ʻohana,

Laura-Lee Feurtado

Through your instructors' directions, Rancen has improved immensely and has gained a wealth of knowledge, especially with his writing. For this, we are grateful.

Mahalo, Carolyn Bello

Uncle Mel and Aunty Lois,

Great news! Kamahaʻo has been invited to attend Kamehameha as a 7th grader. Thank you so much for all the help you and the wonderful tutors at Naʻau gave him. Everything from the test taking strategies to the interview hints really helped him feel confident and know what to expect. We couldn't have done it without you all! We are so happy, proud, relieved and excited for him! Thank you so much!

Julie Matsumoto, Mom of Kamahaʻo
Dear Uncle Mel, Aunty Lois, and Keli'i,

I am writing to say the BIGGEST MAHALO I can to you and your staff. Daniel was accepted into Iolani for sixth grade. You played a major part in his acceptance with the SSAT prep and interview prep. He absolutely could not have gotten in without your love and willingness to work with him. Daniel's acceptance makes two for two for Na'au. Ellie was accepted into Iolani two years ago because of your wonderful programs. She is thriving and loving every minute of school. You are our heroes . . . I tell everyone applying for private school, you're the best!

Tommy, Sharleen, Ellie and Daniel Asada
Thank you so much for your help with scheduling tutoring appointments despite Alyssaʻs busy athletic schedule. Your program has helped her tremendously. Her last quarter grade point average was a 3.6. This is a really big improvement from when she first started. She has also gained confidence with doing her homework and completing projects. We are truly blessed by your program.

Alyssa Gabriel ʻOhana
Aloha Auntie Lois, Uncle Mel and Na'au 'ohana,

Mahalo nui for all you've done to prepare Charlotte for the testing process for private school. Charli enjoyed coming for her tutoring sessions. We appreciate how you taught Charli to write coming from a Hawaiian perspective. I think this added to her writing skills beside the basics of writing, which could be what set her apart from other candidates that she was competing against. Ultimately, she was accepted to Kamehameha Schools. We are over the moon with excitement. We feel like we won the lottery! We are truly blessed. Mahalo nui again for working with Charli. We were referred by a wonderful caring friend to your learning center and I will definately tell others. Imua, Charli is officially a Warrior!

Toddi & Chris Nakagawa
Parent's of Charlotte attending Kamehameha 2017-2018 4th grade

Na'au made our sons' SSAT preperation a happy and successful experience. Rather than dreading their SSAT preparation, the boys looked forward to the education, comradery, snacks and laughter Na'au provided them. Both boys were accepted to both schools they applied to thanks to Naau's great prepartion for their test taking. Thank you to the great team there - I would highly recommend it!

   Malia Mattoch

As a parent I oftentimes feel like a failure. Why? Because kids on the autism spectrum are all different. There is "no one magic cure all " for everyone. Each day I learn something new from my son. Autism kids grow, develop and change like normal kids, yet I as a parent am "stuck" in what he was like "last year." I want him to have friends and realize that he "chooses" his own friends~most of which are my friends who are nice to him or his former teachers. During this part of his life, Kevin was hospitalized numerous times at Queen's Hospital and enrolling him at Na'au with teachers/owners Lois-Ann Yamanaka and Melvin Everett Spencer III was truly a "God send" experience. "Aunty Lois" and "Uncle Mel" were like family members, compassionate and insightful and helped Kevin gain back his confidence by teaching him how to write from his na'au.

Mae Okawa
Dear Uncle Mel,

Thank you for getting me into the school that my family dreamed of me going to. Because of you and the people who helped me, I get to feel what it is like to have so many opportunities to go to an amazing school. Every time I went to a session, I was gaining more than I knew. Everything I learned from you, Uncle Cory, and Aunty Lois was the main reason I was admitted to the Kamehameha Schools.

Luke Luckfield
Dear Aunty Lois, Uncle Mel and Naʻau Family,
Thank you very much for preparing and guiding Kira through the private school testing and interview process. She received acceptance letters for all three schools she applied to (Punahou, ʻIolani, Kamehameha)! We are still in shock and feel very blessed!!!
Love and aloha,
Kaleo and Carole Augustin, Parents of Kira

Aloha Aunty Lois and Uncle Melvin,

I just wanted to give you an update on my son, Matthew Carland.  He was a student of yours quite a few years back. He loved Naʻau and learned so much about writing and expressing himself through your fabulous writing program. Matthew graduated from Mid-Pac and went on to Portland State University, where he majored in English and minored in Japanese.

Thanks to Naʻau he discovered his “voice” and was able to express himself through writing. He just moved to New York City, where he got a job as a writer for Kyodo News. 

Thank you for being such wonderful teachers and mentors!

Kerryn Carland

A Testimonial: Summer SSAT Prep Course:

Mahalo to Uncle Mel, Aunty Lois, and the Naʻau ʻohana for providing the guidance and support that was given to our daughter Lauleʻa in the SSAT Prep Course that she took last summer, which she continued with weekly sessions to help her with specific areas. The course prepared her academically and socially. Naʻau helped to increase Lauleʻa's confidence, so when she went through the testing process for the schools she applied for, she left feeling that she did the best that she could do, and as her parents that all we asked. Now, we anxiously await for the responses, and know that anything offered to Lauleʻa came from her hard work and the nurturing of Naʻau. We commend Naʻau on the comfortable, ʻohana feeling that is given to each and every person that walks through their doors. The environment that a child learns in is just as important as the materials that they are given to learn from and Naʻau provides both.

Mahalo, Ricol and Kevin

As a parent, you truly have to equip your child with opportunities that will add to their “portfolio.” I introduced Beau to Naʻau Learning Center because he needed to get from good to GREAT! And I knew that Naʻau would provide him with the tools he needed for SSAT prep, oral communication for interviews, and creative writing. I am so appreciative of Naʻau & the great staff that have worked with Beau throughout this entire application process. Beau applied to and received acceptance letters from Punahou, Kamehameha, ʻIolani & St Louis. We call this a “clean sweep.”                                                                                                                                                                        Kapua Sylvester, mother of Beau Sylvester, Kamehameha Schools c/o 2022.

We wanted to let you know that Kyra was accepted to Punahou and Mid-Pacific Institute. Thank you all so very much for helping Kyra to improve in her writing and reading comprehension. Not only did this help to get her into her desired schools, but this has helped her in school and will continue to help her throughout her school years and career one day.
Cheryl, Mother of Kyra Park

Testimonial for our Uncle Matt, our fine Math Teacher:

Uncle Matt is most knowledgeable in Math, is able to successfully communicate and convey Math concepts to his students at their level, and more importantly, is able to connect with his students, which encourages them to want to learn and to persevere. Uncle Matt, through his teaching style, is also able to give his students confidence, which allows them to ultimately succeed in Math. We are very grateful to Uncle Matt, Uncle Mel, Aunty Lois and the entire Naʻau ʻOhana.

Sincerely yours,
The Mash ʻOhana
Family of Halia Mash, Punahou School

Aloha Aunty Lois, Uncle Mel and Jerrica,

I wanted to say mahalo nui loa for all of your help in getting Punia prepped for the Kamehameha and Punahou Schools' admissions processes.  He made it into Kamehameha Schools which is our first choice (1 of 15 out of the 149 applicants in the Honolulu District).  Punia was elated with the news and so were we.  Again we would like to say thank you all very much.

Shane Pale, father of Punia Pale
Attending Kamehameha Fall 2013

Aloha Uncle Mel, Aunty Lois and the Naʻau gang,

Thank you very much for challenging Danny to do the best that he can. With your guidance, knowledge and support, Danny did excellent in school and on the entrance exam. We are pleased to say that Danny will be attending Kamehameha next year for the 4th grade.

Danny and Lea Palimoʻo
Uncle Mel and Aunty Lois,

Mahalo for preparing Anela well not only for her testing experiences at Punahou and ʻIolani, but for her future. After attending your Private School Test Prep program, she felt confident going into her SSAT, essay and interview sessions at both schools. You taught her how to learn and that's so important to us. We knew that after completion of your course that she was ready to go, and whatever the outcome, your firm and fun environment benefited her. You truly made hard work enjoyable and she definitely feels loved at Naʻau. Needless to say, she was over the moon when she received the acceptance letters to both Punahou and ʻIolani this week. Anela's grades also improved tremendously at her current school, Kamehameha, and she and her teachers are very excited and motivated about that. We're not quite sure where she'll be for 7th grade next school year, but as soon as we do, we'll let you know! Please continue to do what you do, because it works!

Kawehi and Corey Apo
Parents of Anela Apo
A haven - that is the first word that came to mind when we first walked into Naʻau. To me, a haven is a safe place where one can heal and blossom in a warm and nurturing environment. The pervasive feeling is one of encouragement and support. To me, this is what sets Naʻau apart from the rest. I remember Aunty Lois and Uncle Mel talking about bringing out my daughter's 'voice'. To me that meant blending academic writing with passion. I like to think of it in terms of blessing her with two gifts. The first gift is to develop the ability to put words to her thoughts and feelings in an organized and clear fashion. The second, and more precious gift, is the ability to infuse her words with life -- to transport the reader into the experience, to feel the emotions, to inspire, to move. Naʻau brought out my daughter's voice and it truly is a priceless gift. It is one that will serve her well for a lifetime, in all areas of her life.

Debra Nakagaki
Mother of Kristyn Wong, ʻIolani
We want to thank you so much for all the encouragement and support you gave Karrie throughout her admission process. She has been accepted to Punahou, Iolani, Mid Pacific, and Maryknoll. She is so excited to have a choice. We feel that Naʻau really helped Karrie become more confident. She now has a love for writing and wishes to continue pursuing this at whichever school she chooses to go to. Both of you are so wonderful. Many thanks again.

Sheri and Todd Honnaka
Parents of Karrie Ann, Hanahauʻoli

Our daughter Maya went through your program for a few months to help prepare her for 7th grade testing at Kamehameha.  We had wanted to come by with Maya to thank you as Maya was accepted as a seventh grader to Kamehameha . . . we are so appreciative of your help.  She was definitely better prepared because of her time at Na'au.

CinDee Enos, mother of Maya Enos
Attending Kamehameha Fall 2011

Zofia always gets compliments from her teachers on how well she is able to express herself in her writing and I am amazed sometimes at the pictures she paints when she writes a story. She had to write a story about being a mouse for a day and in the first line Zofia described how she woke up and had to struggle to get out from under the covers which were pressing down on her because she was a mouse. It was quite an effective way to start a story. So again, my heartfelt thanks for the effect you and your program have on Zofia. What a difference you all have made in her writing skills and also her reading ability! I personally miss the warm reception and the feeling of ʻohana that envelopes you when you walk through the door.

Jill Dice
Mother of Zofia Dice-Cholodzinski, Kipapa
Our family can't thank you and all of the Naʻau staff for helping to prepare Gabby for the SSAT--more importantly for nurturing her and having her have such a great place to learn, laugh and feel so special. You are all very precious with an incredible gift to share.

Juliet Begina,
Mother of Gabrielle, Maʻemaʻe School
Thanks to Naʻau, our hearts are touched to see how Joy’s “voice” is expressed in meaningful ways through her artwork and writing.

We are pleased to witness her developmental expression in colorful and beautiful ways through her stories, poems, and haiku. Naʻau is a place where students embrace their infinite potential as they become one with their inner self. We are grateful that there is a safe and inspiring place where Joy can blossom. Thank you Naʻau. We feel blessed by your work.

Niki and Laurie Libarios Parents of Joy, The Children's House

P.S. I love dropping Joy off at Naʻau cause that means I can go to China town to eat some ono dim sum while I wait for her! – Joy’s Dad
Naʻau is a nurturing, inviting place for both student and parent. The staff at Naʻau are always gracious, accommodating, and encouraging. After only a few months at Naʻau, we were surprised to learn that our son placed first in his category for the Board of Water Supply calendar contest!

Jeanine Nakakura
Mother of Dakota, Hongwanji Mission School
Thanks so much to Uncle Mel and Aunty Lois and everyone at Naʻau! Tyler received his acceptance letter to Mid-Pacific Institute and will be attending 7th grade this fall. Your classes gave him the confidence and determination to try his best during the entire application and testing process. After taking your writing class and the SSAT prep class, he received an ME in writing for his third quarter grade for the first time! We appreciate all your help in achieving Tyler's goals!

Tracy Ogawa,
Mother of Tyler, Mid-Pacific Institute
I wanted to write you to sincerely thank you and your staff for all your help in preparing Nicole for the SSAT and private school interview process this past year. It was a long process, but your classes and guidance really helped Nicole feel confident in taking the test and going through the interviews. Your SSAT class gave her a good understanding of the test concepts and which areas she needed to focus on. I appreciated your follow up when Nicole needed to spend more time on her vocabulary words. The practice essays were perfect. Nicole was able to use what she learned at Naʻau to answer the essay question for every school she applied at. She also felt much more confident at the interview after practicing with Uncle Mel. She was given good advice from the both of you on how to answer the essays and interview questions. The best part of it was that both of you were so nurturing and caring throughout the entire process. Nicole really enjoyed going to class, even if it was after a long day of other activities.

Thank you Uncle Mel and Aunty Lois! We truly appreciate all that you do!

Carol Ono,
Mother of Nicole, Hanahouʻoli/ʻIolani
Two wonderful news to share-- Makana was accepted at Kamehameha! We received the acceptance letter in the mail this past weekend, and amidst a lot of anticipation, Makana opened the letter, his eyes widened, and he let out a huge scream. Needless to say, Nat and I were just thrilled.

Also, I wanted to share Makana's great writing test score. Makana took a Hawaii Department of Education Writing Assessment test back in October, in the midst of his Naʻau experience, and on a scale of 1 to 5, Makana scored 5! WOW!

This, we truly believe, is a direct reflection of your wonderful work with him--you are truly making a difference! Thank you again for teaching Makana. Our family is so grateful for what you do, and more importantly, the way you teach the kids, your kindness, your aloha. Mahalo, mahalo, mahalo!

Nat and Mary Pamatigan
Parents of Makana, Kamehameha
The good news--actually the great news--is that Brigitte received acceptance letters from Iolani, Kamehameha, La Pietra, and Punahou. We are deeply grateful for all that Naʻau has done for our family. You have not only taught Brigitte specific skills that contributed to her success, but also personal skills in self-confidence, human value, leadership and creativity. We are fortunate to be a part of the Naʻau family.

Natalie K. Oana-Russo
Mother of Brigitte, Star of the Sea School
Great news! I just received notice that I was accepted into my first choice boarding school, The Lawrenceville School in Princeton, New Jersey. I'll miss being in Hawaii, and boarding school will be a drastic change for me. However, I just wanted to say thank you for everything. With all your support and help with my SSAT, admission interview, and application essays, I'm off to a fresh and exciting start as a Lawrentian. This is my family's dream come true. Thank you so much Aunty Lois and Uncle Mel.

Iris Pak
Arthur and I don’t get to thank you enough for all that you are doing for Perry. She loves every moment she spends at Naʻau and with the both of you! She recently mentioned that she’d like to study creative writing in college and may spend time with a friend (whose father is a playwright) to co-write a play this summer. This would not have been possible without your guidance, influence and love. You have provided her the tools and empowered her to believe that “she can.”

Lisa Buto
Mother of Perry, Hongwanji Mission School
Lisa and I want to express our sincere thanks for the good job in encouraging, inspiring, and empowering Leimana. We are proud of her and thank you for having her as a part of Naʻau.

Noel G. Trainor
General Manager, Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa
Father of Leimana, The Kamehameha Schools
I just wanted to tell you that I was on the verge of tears as I read Matthew's first poem written at Naʻau. "Promising", as it was titled, reflects who Matthew truly is. It was a joy to read. As I read it, Matthew looked at me grinning from ear to ear. I knew immediately that he had made some kind of connection with that part of himself that has been yearning to communicate his thoughts and feelings.

We are both so excited to be a part of your program. Thank you so much.

Kerryn Carland
Teacher, Le Jardin Academy and proud parent of Matthew, Voyager Charter School
Lois-Ann and Mel, you two are such a great team. You are both individually so talented, warm and caring. You have an oasis where students can feel secure, not threatened and where they can gain confidence with your positive teaching.

Sally Lee
Mom of Rachel, Punahou School
Our prayers have been answered. Kamri has been accepted into The Kamehameha Schools. Thanks to all of you at Naʻau, Kamri has been more confident in herself. Naʻau was a very positive component to her success. Your oral communication class gave her the self-confidence and exposure to the interview portion of the admission test that she needed. Her award winning poem was a positive addition to her accomplishments as well. I thank all of you for the kindness, guidance, patience and prayers you have given to her. We are very grateful.

Kathy Oguma
Mom of Kamri, The Kamehameha Schools
Thank you for welcoming Megan to Naʻau. She thoroughly enjoys your Poetry and Paragraph Writing classes. Megan is practically "begging" me to learn at Naʻau all the time. This is a pleasant surprise for Mom... two weeks ago, before she started your program, she had very little interest in writing.

Ryan & Liann Dung
Parents of Megan Hiʻilani, Hawaii Baptist Academy
Dara has expressed on several occasions how she loves working with you at Naʻau and that she is so comfortable in that environment. She is showing considerable progress at school and is definitely a more confident writer.

Ada Azuma,
Mother of Dara, Punahou School
Our Island Art of Rice writing competition drew a large batch of extraordinarily well-written pieces. I've judged many essay contests over the years and usually there are but a handful of potential winners in a sea of almost-but-not-quite. This competition, however, brought out the best in many writers and the majority of the essays fell into the "could be a contender" pile for re-reading and agonizing over.

Despite this stiff competition, the stack of one-page essay from Naʻau students stood out from the start. I read every one at least twice, smiled at the humor in some, sighed at the emotion in others. What most impressed me was the genuine voice evident in each piece. Many student-written pieces are stiff and false, written to please rather than to express. Clearly, the teachers at Naʻau have succeeded in creating a safe and stimulating place in which these students can relax and be themselves as writers. They use sensory detail, intriguing turns of phrase and colorful language and they write from their real lives.

I decided right away that I would select at least one of these for an honorable mention and that I would mention the school's work in my Art of Rice story. Courtney Lelepali's piece on her mom's fried rice stood out as well-organized, clever ("you just have to be my mom") and embellished with telling detail.

Wanda Adams
Honolulu Advertiser
How can I put into words the good works that Lois Ann and Mel do? Their talent to read between the lines and reach beyond the written word to uncover the heart of the writer is uncanny. At Naʻau, Lois Ann and Mel cultivate the craft of writing and the art of life, where humanity thrives on the smallest details and most mundane events, which in turn, blossom into the poignant moments that either evoke tears or laughter or both. It has been an honor being a Naʻau student for the past 1-1/2 years. I’ve looked forward to every session and have never come away without encouragement, suggestions, or inspiration to write from the inside out.

Kiki Furuya,
Teacher Nanakuli Elementary

Thank you very much for challenging Danny to do the best that he can. With your guidance, knowledge and support, Danny did excellent in school and on the entrance exam. We are pleased to say that Danny will be attending Kamehameha next year for the 4th grade. Mahalo,

~Danny and Lea Palimoʻo, parents of Danny Palimoʻo, Kamehameha

ʻElia felt so confident after his Kamehameha testing. Mahalo nui loa to Uncle Melvin and Aunty Lois at Naʻau for preparing our keiki so well for these admission exams. His experiences and acceptance last year to Punahou, Mid Pacific and Maryknoll also boosted his confidence. I mua a loaʻa ka lei o ka lanakila! 

~Hauʻoli & Kuʻulei Akaka, parents of ʻElia Akaka, Kamehameha
Naʻau is a wonderful non-judgmental arena to expose the words you've so carefully written. Through Lois and Mel I learned how to find my Naʻau when writing. Now when I write I can feel it when I write from my head, least creative, my heart – getting better, or my Naʻau (gut).

But Naʻau isn't gratuitous in its critique. They aren't just a 'yes man' service. They will just as often tell you when something doesn't work and more importantly why it doesn't and give advice on how to fix it.

I have three teenagers, one husband, two dogs and a purse manufacturing business. Plus I'm on the other side of 50. The thought of driving downtown at 7:30 at night to discuss my novel seemed impossible. Now I look forward to these weekly session and the amazing friendship I've formed with two talented and incredible people.

Mahalo Lois-Ann and Mel
Jeri Lynch, wife, mother, dog owner, purse maker
"My two sons have worked with Lois Yamanaka since 1999. Through Lois' unique teaching style my sons have won poetry awards, developed their creative writing skills, improved their articulation in verbal and written responses, made good friends at the Naʻau Center, and have fun while learning. I also credit Lois for making a positive difference in my sons' applications to private schools with respect to writing and reading, traditionally the more challenging topics for Hawaii children to overcome. Her impact is so great, yet she is so humble."

Marie and Mitch Imanaka
Parents of Michael and David, both Iolani students
Dear Lois-Ann and Mel,
Here's one of parenthood's paradoxes: we often end up seeing only the worst side of our kids. We get to see the kid who says, "Just let me go on being a baby!", or the one who says, "I'll do anything to avoid being under your thumb!". The proto-human who really hears our voice, the one who says, "I really want to end up being something like my mom and dad." is rarely allowed to emerge in our presence. That's why your gift of creating a sanctuary in which the child's true spirit can blossom through writing, is so valuable both to her and to me as a parent.

My daughter, with your guidance, gave me this year the best Christmas present I've had in many a year: a poem expressing her gratitude to me for believing in her and helping her conquer her mathematics demons. The sentiments were conveyed with a force and complexity which took me by surprise: can this be the same thirteen-year-old I'm having to yell at every night because she won't pick up her clothes?? Obviously she is growing and developing in ways which necessarily take her beyond me, into territory where others such as you will need to provide her guidance and permission.

Seeing the work she produces week after week in the environment you foster allows me a glimpse into the person she is truly becoming!

Carlos A. Weber, M.D.
Hawaii Permanente Medical Group, Inc.
Father of Simone Weber, Punahou student
"At Naʻau, Lois-Ann and Mel have created a nurturing environment to learn. They teach with compassion and humor, sensitivity and intelligence. I love coming to class, and am amazed at my progress. Due to their encouragement, one of my poems became a short story, and now each paragraph is developing into a chapter. Through their excellent critiques, I have improved my writing and have more confidence in my own "voice". Thanks to Lois-Ann and Mel, I have become aware of the joy and pleasure of writing from the heart. "

Susan, Naʻau believer
Invisible Meaning
Naʻau is like a fuzzy cream-colored pillow

creating heroic thoughts
that heal new and fresh minds,
molding and improving
the pure thoughts of the students,

kissing the invisible
sounds in the room,

lifting the perfect
studying environment
into a risen level of a sheer
and peaceful learning experience.

Ryan Goo, Punahou student

Thank you and Naʻau for all that you have done for Kaalakai & Naleo in preparing them for 7th grade entrance exams; neither chose Dadʻs school, but Kaalakai is excelling at Punahou and I am sure Naleo will too. All the work you folks did for them showed when they were accepted to Punahou, Iolani, Mid-Pac, Maryknoll, and Kamehameha. Mahalo nui loa.


Naleo and Kaalakai Faurot

Over the past 7 months, Alex has spent quality and valuable time at Na'au developing and polishing his test taking skills, interview readiness, and understanding of more complex math and language arts concepts.  Your training has affected poise, confidence, and a peace in Alex that is tremendously difficult to express in words.  Alex has vividly shared his genuine joy learning from ALL his teachers at Na'au.  Moreover, thank you for being so flexible with our schedule, fitting us in at the last minute and at our convenience, not necessarily yours.  Most importantly, thank you for creating an environment for my son and me to come in and be loved upon and made to feel worthy and uplifted. Your expertise, professionalism, kōkua, and aloha have left an everlasting imprint in our hearts! Mahalo nui loa and Mahalo Ke Akua!

Aloha Ke Akua,
The Keliiholokais

Thank you Aunty Lois and staff for all that you have done over the past year for my daughter Caly. She has gained so much in a year since starting at Naʻau.  You have made her a confident writer who believes that she is a good writer.  She shared one of her writing samples that she did at Naʻau Learning Center at the Mid-Pacific Institute interview that she used as her artifact.  Words can't express how much I appreciate what you have done for her.  Her writing in school has improved tremendously and her teacher has shared this with me. She applied for Iolani, Mid-Pacific Institute, and Kamehameha School and received acceptance letters to all three private schools for 7th grade.  I know that your tutoring in reading and math and assistance in writing has enabled her to do well on her tests for private school admissions and in school.  Again thank you for your kindness, your manao, and your humorous spirit.

Kimberly Ah Soon, Mom of Caly

Iolani School accepted ELLIE!!!  I turned in the commitment to attend sixth grade today.  Our family is deeply appreciative of all you have done for her.  She needed your gifts to to do better than the hundreds of other applicants.  You gave her tools for success - SSAT skills in reading, math, essay and the preparation for her interview. The icing on the cake was Na’au’s comfortable atmosphere filled with your aloha, the soothing music, the tasty snacks, and cold drinks.  I enjoyed it as much as she did.

Note - One done, one soon to be, one in and one to go.  Raider’s No Ka Oi!

Big mahalo,
Tommy and Shar Asada, Parents of Noah, Daniel, and Ellie

Naʻau LLC 1365 Nuuanu Avenue, Suite 4, Honolulu, HI 96817