Like water for a fern, the knowledge and guidance that kumu (teachers) instill in their haumÄna (students) can provide life-changing inspiration. Former colleagues and students of the University of Hawaii at MÄnoa English teacher Nancy Carolyn Alpert Lawn Mower say that’s the kind of connection she shared with so many people around her.
âNancy was a committed and attentive teacher, an active participant in the life of the department and a respected colleague,â said Georganne nordstrom, EUH Associate President of the English Department of MÄnoa.
Glenn man, English teacher at EUH MÄnoa remembers her positive spirit. âI don’t think I’ve ever seen her in a bad mood; she was always upbeat and smiling, just a good person to be around.
Mower, 88, died in July, but while her relatives lament, they also appreciate her contribution to literacy in Hawaii. Mower’s teaching career at EUH MÄnoa started after graduating with an MA in English from the university in 1985. Her love of teaching was shared with her late husband, the professor. Howard Frederick Lawn Mower, a respected biochemist who taught EUH for nearly 50 years and has helped shape hundreds of Hawaii‘s doctors.
âNancy has taught regularly in the English Department’s first-year Literature and Introductory Literature programs, and was a founder of the biennial Literature Conferences and Hawaii‘s Children, by obtaining and administering grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the conference, âsaid Nordstrom. âNancy led the conference three times and helped establish children’s literature Hawaii as a non-profit organization.
Mower, from Colorado, was intrigued by Hawaiithe host culture. She became determined to write stories for the keiki after discovering that her own children were not learning ancestral Hawaiian knowledge and traditions.
“She was appalled at the lack of exposure to Hawaiian culture in these schools,” said Carol Ioane, the eldest of Mower’s four children and a EUH Former student of primary education in MÄnoa. âShe felt the need to contribute to a body of literature that could be used as a vehicle to share the beauty and vitality of Hawaiian culture, at the elementary school level. His hope was that through these stories, students would be motivated to further their research into the richness of Hawaiian culture on their own.
Her children remember Mower as a passionate scholar, immersing herself in readings that detailed the vibrancy of Hawaiian culture and the richness of Hawaiian intelligence. She will then publish seven children’s books such as Sugar Cane Magic, I visit TÅ«tÅ« and Grandmother and TÅ«tÅ« Stories. Mower also wrote works for the keiki based on the travel canoe. HÅkÅ«le’a, which detailed the traditional Hawaiian aspects of his navigation methods. She used these works to help develop, Polynesian marine heritage, a series of four books and programs designed for elementary schools based on the HÅkÅ«le’a. His desire to write about Hawaiian knowledge was not limited to keiki only. Mower has also published an assortment of culture-based academic news and articles.
EUH English teacher in Manoa Kristin McAndrews attended graduate school with Mower in the 1980s and later as colleagues co-wrote a literacy development course for the Hawaii State Department of Education. âNancy was lovely, kind, focused and determined,â McAndrews recalls. “Her childhood stories, her family and her husband were poignant and beautifully written.”
Commitment to elevate the haumÄna
In addition to teaching, Mower has helped financially support aspiring students. She started a scholarship on women at EUH Hilo in memory of his late sister, Barbara.
In 2001, Mower retired from EUH MÄnoa but continued to teach as a volunteer at the university. âShe has witnessed first-hand the struggles that many EUH 100 MÄnoa freshmen experienced in English, âIoane explained. âShe knew that without a solid foundation in English, pursuing a college education would be extremely difficult for them. As she got older, she began to work more at night school for continuing education.
NÄ liko (buds) spring forth
His commitment to educating students has inspired alumni and relatives to become kumu. Ioane followed Mower and taught for the past 35 years, the majority as a teacher at a Hawaiian immersion school. Several grandchildren have also taken up teaching careers. Others, like the granddaughter Keahialaka Ioane, who is pursuing an MA in Hawaiian Studies at EUH MÄnoa, to imitate Mower’s passion for writing.
The 31-year-old prepares to produce a documentary on respected Hawaiian activists on Hawaii Island during the Hawaiian revival of the 1970s. “I became aware of a kuleana that I can have in this specific area because these stories are sensitive and their characters also fade quickly and are very protective of their stories,” said Ioane.
Mower’s’ ohana has set up an online remembrance page for haumÄna and her colleagues to share stories and memories.
This work is an example of EUH MÄnoa’s goals to improve student achievement (PDF) and become a place of native Hawaiian learning (PDF), two of the four objectives identified in the 2015-25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.