Sheena Alaiasa embarked on her professional journey by earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and teaching at Brigham Young University-Hawaii. In 2004, she became the principal of Heeia Elementary School in Kaneohe, Hawaii, and later held the same role at Governor Samuel Wilder King Intermediate School from 2008 to 2014. During this time, she pursued further studies at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, graduating with a Master of Science in educational leadership and administration in 2012. Ms. Alaiasa went on to serve as the principal of James B. Castle High School from 2014 to 2015 and of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama in Honolulu from 2015 to 2018.
In 2018, Ms. Alaisa moved from Hawaii to Utah and now contributes her expertise in education technology, instructional design, curriculum development, teacher training and leadership as the director of the Pacific Heritage Academy in Salt Lake City. In this role, she is responsible for managing the school’s academic curricula, overseeing family activities and grant writing. Passionate about helping minority students, she additionally goes out of her way to seek out professionals to act as resources to aid minority students and their families. Looking toward the future, Ms. Alaiasa’s next goal is to complete a Doctor of Philosophy with a focus on diversity and supporting minority students in the classroom.
Feeling that there is a lot to be learned from engaging with different cultures and cultural values, Ms. Alaiasa also hopes to eventually open her own schools that will place emphasis on celebrating the diverse backgrounds of students. She believes that connecting with one’s culture is very important, especially during difficult times, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which she believes is a major contributing factor to what she is calling a “global identity crisis.” When speaking to young and aspiring professionals, Ms. Alaiasa would remind them that there have been many strong women who have led the way before them, never backing down, believing in their values and sharing their expertise, and that they can be that leader for someone else.
Ms. Alaiasa considers the most important thing she has learned over the years to be the art of listening and hearing without passing judgment. In the field of education, she has found herself in a position to hear a lot of things, sometimes even different variations of the same story, and careful listening in these cases is vital to shaping decisions that need to be made. In order to stay up to date with new developments in her field, Ms. Alaiasa maintains affiliation with a number of professional organizations, including the Association for Supervisions and Curriculum Development, the Pacific Women Leaders Coalition and NISSP.
For her excellence, Ms. Alaiasa has been the recipient of a number of honors and accolades. Most recently, she was recognized for outstanding leadership in 2022. During her time in Hawaii, she was named both National Principal of the Year in 2013 and Hawaii Principal of the Year in 2012. She considers being honored as the National Principal of the Year to be the absolute highlight of her career thus far. On a personal level, Ms. Alaiasa is incredibly proud of her four children and enjoys the ability that working in education gives her to spend the holidays with her children and extended family.