MEO Head Start Lahaina preschool site to reopen Thursday

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January 31, 2024

Maui Economic Opportunity’s Head Start Lahaina site, the only preschool in own spared by the Aug. 8 wildfires, will be reopening Thursday, Feb. 1, following extensive cleaning, repairs, renovations and clearances for health and safety.

A blessing, led by Makalapua Kanuha, was held Tuesday morning at the site next to Princess Nahienaena Elementary School. About 20 people attended, ncluding Lori Tsuhako, Maui County Director of Housing and Human Concerns, and Wendy Ellis with the federal Administration for Children and Families, as well as MEO administration, staff and board members.

The salt in her bowl “represents preservation, purification,” Kanuha told the group. “These are just symbols. These are representations of life, to preserve the life of our keiki and kumu in this area.”

Tsuhako called the reopening of the center “hopeful” and noted the restoration of 20 preschool seats of the 275 lost in the wildfires.

Head Start currently has about a half-dozen 3 and 4 year olds signed up, so the site will be accepting more children. Many pre-wildfire students and family relocated to other parts of the island – and some to other Head Start sites – as well as off-island.

The federally-funded program provides comprehensive early childhood education services to families that meet federal poverty income guidelines and selection criteria. Preference is given to foster and homeless children.

The program also begins signing up children for the 2024-25 school year beginning Thursday, Feb. 1, which is when applications become available. Forms may be completed online at (go to the “Quick Links” section).

For more information, contact the MEO Head Start office at (808) 249-2988.  Office hours are 7:15 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday, except on federal and state holidays.


MEO Head Start also is seeking lead teachers for Lahaina and Kihei sites.  The positions, which require at least a Child Development Associate credential, pay up to $24.50 an hour based on qualifications.

For more information, call (808) 243-4310, email [email protected] or go to (and click on the “Careers” tab) to fill out an application.

MEO Early Childhood Services Director Debbi Amaral leads a program to bless
the Head Start site at Princess Nahienaena Elementary School.


About 20 Maui Economic Opportunity staff and board members and county officials, including Department of Housing and Human Concerns Director Lori Tsuhako, participated in the blessing of the MEO Head Start Lahaina site Tuesday. The preschool next to Princess Nahienaena Elementary School will reopen Thursday.


Those attending the blessing of the MEO Lahaina Head Start preschool site
posed for a photo.


Makalapua Kanuha blessed the MEO Head Start site in Lahaina on Tuesday
morning. Following extensive cleaning, repairs and renovations, the
preschool center will reopen Thursday; it’s been shuttered since the Aug. 8 wildfires.


MEO Board Member Kai Pelayo throws a spotlight on the Head Start Lahaina site.

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