This beautiful lady is teacher Gladys Kamakuokalani Brandt, a Native Hawaiian old enough to have attended the funeral services in 1917 of Queen Liliuokalani, the last reining monarch of Hawaii, and yet young enough to witness the unprovoked attack upon Pearl Harbor in 1941 which precipitated World War II. Gladys began her career as a teacher, working in public schools and eventually becoming an instructor at the well-known and prestigious Kamehameha Schools, a private institution set up to educate Native Hawaiian students.
As a youngster, Gladys was deeply ashamed of her Hawaiian heritage, so much so that she rubbed her face with lemon juice to lighten her complexion. By the time she became the principal of Kamehameha Schools, however, she fought tirelessly for the inclusion of courses to preserve Native Hawaiian culture, supporting instruction in Hawaiian language, song, and the controversial standing hula dance which had been forbidden by the school’s trustees. The story of her work is an inspirational one.
Equally inspirational is the story of the dedication and sacrifice of Hawaii’s teachers in the days and weeks following the bombing. From serving as ambulance drivers, setting up shelters for survivors, teaching their students how to use gas masks, taking their students into the sugar cane fields to harvest the crops, and re-establishing some semblance of order for their students when school resumed, their deeds are truly remarkable. You can read about Gladys and her fellow Hawaiian teachers in Chalkboard Champions.