Mrs. K joins Kalani for “supportive” environment


Lily Washburn

Kilisitina Finefeuiaki smiles from the desk of her Special Education classroom, located in F-11. She says the hardest part of her job is the paperwork, which includes filling out each student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). However, her favorite part of the job—working with the kids—is what makes it all worth it.

Lily Washburn, Profile

 “I never thought I would be a teacher,” Kilisitina Finefeuiaki said from the desk of her Special Education classroom at Kalani. 

Finefeuiaki, known by students as Ms. K, comes from a family of teachers. She joined the field in 2016 when she began her post-bachelorette in Special Education (SPED) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. 

Since then, she’s found her place in the SPED department. 

Ms. K first joined Kalani when students returned to school in person for the 2021-2022 school year and worked as a student teacher for Ms. Aveiro’s SPED class. For her, Kalani’s friendly, supportive environment is what enticed her to stay. She was quick to accept a permanent teaching position when the offer arose.

 “Even just being here so far, and I noticed it from last year too, like everyone’s really so supportive of each other in my department,”  Finefeuiaki said. “In the SPED department, everyone’s really helpful and really nice. I’ve been to other schools; not everyone’s always so friendly.” 

For Ms. K, however, the best part about her job is the kids. 

“That’s why I stayed in the field, and that’s what grew on me,” she said. 

Her love of working with SPED kids is why she aspires to become a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA). A BCBA is someone who works to “create and generate and implement” programs for SPED students like those in Ms. K’s class. They are in charge of the in-depth programming of SPED kids’ objectives and goals, aside from what their teachers do. 

Ms. K is currently in school at UH Manoa to get her Master of Education in Special Education with an emphasis on behavior analysis. She plans to teach for the next few years to gain experience as she works towards becoming a BCBA.