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Danny Kaopuiki's

Kama`aina Profile

July 2007

Kumu Kula

...........Next to Mothers and Fathers, the School Teacher (Kumu Kula) has always been one of the most critical influences in the development of every culture’s youth! In today’s world, the challenges facing a Kumu Kula are more difficult than ever thus it is such a great pleasure to recognize a Kumu Kula from Hawaii who was recently honored by the Highline Schools Foundation for Excellence as their Outstanding Teacher of the Year 2007!

Our Profile guest is a beautiful Filipina Kumu Kula named Barbara “Bobbie” Daligcon! Bobbie Daligcon is a living example of the “American Dream”, rising from an immigrant family/plantation worker’s environment (she calls it money-poor but love-rich) to a position where she can now educate young students so that they can have the best possible start in life!

Bobbie was born and grew up in Waimea, Kauai, graduating from Waimea HS in 1962. Bobbie preferred acting like a tomboy in her youth but her natural beauty was not to be ignored for very long. She was the Waimea HS 1962 Homecoming Queen and was also named Miss Hawaii Filipina in 1962. In 1964, she was selected as the Filipina Queen of the University of Hawaii’s Ka Palapala Pageant.

Her eyes tear up when she speaks of two of the most important influences in her life, her parents, Esmenia and Mariano Balderas, each of whom migrated separately to Kauai from the Philippine Islands. A few years after their arrival, they met and married on Kauai. From them, Bobbie learned the value of integrity, hard work and perseverance, values that she imparts every day to her seventh and eighth grade students at Cascade Middle School in the White Center area of Seattle.

As with many immigrant families, providing the best possible education for their children was the number one priority for Esmenia and Mariano Balderas. Bobbie fulfilled that priority as she now has an impressive educational portfolio that includes a Bachelor of Science degree from the U of Hawaii and a Masters degree in Curriculum and Teaching from Michigan State University. Her teaching career spans thirty seven years in such geographically separated locations as Manila, Okinawa, Guam, San Jose, CA, Vallejo, CA and for the past fourteen years in the Seattle, WA area! She also represents her school district as an executive officer in the Washington Education Association.

There are teachers....and there are teachers! Most teach the academic essentials....then there are those, like Bobbie Daligcon, who teach Life Skills, the processes for coping with the actions, interactions and reactions of every day living! Many of her students are from low income families or are immigrant children or children of immigrant parents with commensurate cultural or language differences, all factors which makes her job even more challenging! But Bobbie Daligcon thrives on these challenges and the impact she has had on her multi-ethnic students is evident from the heartwarming themes, signs and posters that are tastefully displayed on the ceilings and walls in her classroom. Her students created themes like “Different Colors, One Shade!” or “Many Faces, Many Minds, Many Hearts, One World!”, themes that are both so simple and yet so profound....most importantly, these students truly try to live the philosophies they create! Bobbie Daligcon is beloved by all her students because of her compassionate, full of Aloha teaching style. She can be stern and strict when needed but there is no hiding the warmth of her personality! She constantly challenges her students to improve and to excel, to be the best they can be. One positive measurement of her impact is that many of her ex-students (she lovingly calls them her “Alumni”) often return to her classroom to assist newer students. Bobbie Daligcon’s other major accomplishment at Cascade Middle School is the Culture Club that she formed in 1996. The Club’s mission is to give members an opportunity to learn about each other’s ethnicity, cultures and traditions through a variety of club activities. Each year, the Club members hold their “Annual International Feast of Thanks” where the students prepare and share food from their respective ethnic groups. They also have a “Parade of Nations” pageant which features the fashions, dances, plays and music of their respective ethnic groups. The current Culture Club membership of thirty includes students from Cambodia, Champa, Chile, China, Ethiopia, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Laos, Mien, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, Samoa, Somalia and Vietnam.

Bobbie Daligcon married her high school sweetheart Jimmy Daligcon in 1968. Jimmy’s careers (as an officer in the US Air Force and in management positions for the US Social Security Administration) took him to locations throughout the world which explains Bobbie Daligcon’s far flung teaching sites. Bobbie and Jimmy are proud parents of Marisa (Chuck) Gaalema and Sean (Kylene) Daligcon and of their mo`opuna Jaden (age 6), Alan (3) and Kaleb (2). Marisa, following in her Mom’s footsteps, is completing her 11th year of teaching!

As a teenager, Bobbie Daligcon aspired to become a fashion designer. However, in her first year at the University of Hawaii, she felt intimidated by all the “big city” students who were pursuing careers in fashion designing so she opted for a career in education. The fashion media’s loss has been a very positive gain for those of us who want the best teachers for our youth......and Bobbie Daligcon has certainly proven that she is one of the best!

Mahalo Kumu Kula Bobbie Daligcon....you have fulfilled, beyond expectations, the legacy left you by your beloved parents as your integrity, hard work and perseverance is helping develop knowledgeable, capable and compassionate students who will one day lead the generations of our future! Bobbie Daligcon....you da Woman!

Until next time, be kind to each other.........me ke Aloha pumehana.............Danny


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