Robert Landau

By Coleman, Mark | Honolulu Star - Advertiser, August 7, 2015 | Go to article overview

Robert Landau


Coleman, Mark, Honolulu Star - Advertiser


CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

Robert Landau: Executive director, Hawaii Association of Independent Schools.

Robert Landau has spent most of his long career working for private schools outside of the U.S., and now he's applying his wealth of multicultural experience to his new job as executive director of the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools.

Its 100 or so members range, he said, from "the largest, kind of well-known schools in Hawaii," such as Kamehameha Schools and Punahou, "and then you have the small, faith-based schools, and Montessori schools, Waldorf schools. ... There's every shape and size."

Together the schools employ more than 3,100 teachers and serve more than 32,400 students -- almost 17 percent of all students in the state, including about 24 percent on Oahu.

Taking over from the previous, longtime executive director, Robert Witt, and on the job since mid-July, Landau previously was the deputy superintendent of Singapore American School in Singapore. He also has taught or been a leader at schools in Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, China and Cambodia, where he also set up the Cambodia's Future Foundation, to help students there attend college.

"I understand independent schools extremely well because international schools are independent schools," Landau said.

Back in the U.S. briefly for 10 months in 1998-1999, Landau also was founding director of the first charter school in America to offer an international curriculum, in Monterey, Calif.

His own education includes graduating from University High School in Los Angeles, then earning both a bachelor's degree in liberal studies and his teaching credential from San Francisco State University and a master's degree in education from Endicott College in Beverly, Mass.

He ended up spending decades outside America, he said, because, "When I got my teaching credential in California, it was at a time when there were very few teaching jobs. So I thought I'd go overseas for a year. ... And a year turned into about 40 years."

Now 63, Landau is married and has two adult sons with his wife Kate, a British citizen he met at a softball game in Switzerland, and with whom he'll be living in Kaneohe.

Question: You're new to the job; do you still need more time to acclimate?

Answer: You know, I've worked in three different associations as a board member, so ... actually, in a way, I've kind of hit the ground running. ... I'm going out to a school today to possibly help them with some of their work.

Q: How much have you been getting around to meet the folks, so to speak?

A: Well, first and foremost, one of the things I am going to do is I am going to personally visit all of our schools on all of the islands. I think symbolically it's important as I'm starting with the most remote and the smallest schools, because I want them to know they are equal partners in our association.

Secondly, I believe I'm coming here with international and global experience for a reason, and I honestly do see Hawaii as a great location between the mainland and particularly Asia, and we want to be able to provide services; those could be conferences, meetings, workshops, seminars, that take place here in Hawaii.

One of the things that we certainly are looking at is creating a student focus on the work that we do. What is very important to me are global issues that impact kids and their future. ... A lot of the students in Hawaiian schools do community service and do projects to, you know, help the environment or help social issues or health issues, but we would like to act as a kind of clearinghouse to network those projects and make them sustainable for the long term. And we want to start identifying student leaders in our schools who can help us plan in those efforts to network these projects, and then network around what kids are doing in mainland and international schools.

Q: How would you describe what it is you're expected to be achieving? …

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