This year a few HBA faculty members—who, combined, have worked at HBA for 69 years—will be retiring. Past elementary school students will remember having lunch in Mrs. Murphy’s room, or learning how to play the recorder or square dance in Mrs. Lovett’s music class. Students of Mr. Hu remember his anecdotes filled with humor and meaningful life lessons.

Mrs. JoEllyn Lovett, Elementary Music Teacher

Mrs. JoEllyn Lovett

Mrs. Lovett has worked at HBA for 17 years. She applied for a teaching job at HBA after relocating here from the mainland with her husband. During her first two years at HBA, she taught the third grade. Since then, she has taught kindergarten to sixth grade music classes, and directed the fourth to sixth grade Eagle Choir. 

Sophomore Alexander Marutani-Cole, who was a part of the Eagle Choir for all three years, said, “My favorite thing about Mrs. Lovett was how kind she was and how open she was to talk to. Whenever there was something I needed to talk about, she was always one of the few people I could talk to.” Marutani-Cole’s favorite Eagle Choir memory was when Mrs. Lovett used “emoji cards” to get the choir to smile before performing a song in a concert.

Mrs. Lovett conducts the Eagle Choir during a Christmas performance at the Kahala Mall in 2014. The first two singers (from the left) in the front row are now juniors at HBA – Amanda Sato and Aaron Yoshida. Photograph by Rachel Young.

Mrs. Lovett says she especially enjoys being able to teach all the different grade levels. Some of her favorite memories include the kindergartener to third grade Christmas musicals, and the Eagle Choir concerts at Kahala Mall, Ala Moana Center, Olivet Baptist Church, and Blaisdell Center. She also enjoys the annual Eagle Choir performances held at the HBA Fun Fair and the special Eagle Choir appearances at Dinner Theater with the Soldiers of Light. Because of the numerous events that she has overseen, Mrs. Lovett has had her fair share of hilarious mishaps: breaking her elbow after tripping over a first grader during music class, going onstage with rubber slippers after someone moved her dress heels, and staying up all night disinfecting 78 choir costumes after a lice outbreak. Despite this, she says that her time at HBA has been meaningful because of the friendships she made with the families of HBA students, especially those who helped during Christmas musicals and choir concerts, and her colleagues who assisted her during musical events. “I couldn’t have done it without everyone helping,” she said, “I’ve been truly blessed being surrounded with kind, hardworking, loving people.” 

Summing up what she will miss at HBA, she said, “I will miss my coworkers, the families, teaching music—which is my passion—and most of all, the kids, who kept me on my toes and laughing every single day!” Her plans for retirement include singing in church more often, catching up with friends, and traveling, especially to California, Michigan, and Indiana, where her children and grandchildren reside. “I’m so thankful to the Lord, and to HBA for giving me this incredible opportunity to work in a Christian setting, doing what I love. I will forever be grateful for the wonderful experiences I’ve had, and forever friendships I’ve made over the years. Most importantly, I’m open to what the Lord has in mind for the next chapter of my life,” she said.

Mrs. Patricia Murphy, Elementary Counselor

Mrs. Patricia Murphy

Mrs. Murphy has worked at HBA for 41 years. After graduating from Baylor University in 1975, Mrs. Murphy and her husband moved to Hawaii as young missionaries in 1981, with their young son in tow. Mr. Murphy was first to be hired at HBA, when he joined the school as the high school’s Religious Emphasis Director. Later, Mrs. Murphy was asked if she would be interested in the elementary school counselor position as she had a teaching degree. She became HBA’s first elementary school counselor, and she would drive to the old Nanakuli campus once a week for work. As HBA grew in size, Mrs. Murphy also taught a few PE and art classes.

Mrs. Murphy says that her job has been about “teaching kids how to love themselves and each other while also being a good friend and learning how to work together with others.” She also taught children how to handle their emotions by having control over their thoughts. Mrs. Murphy is grateful for the opportunity to teach these skills in her classroom and have small friendship groups with her students whether it be at lunch or just getting to know them.

Sixth grader Gabriella Michelle Subia, a member of one of Mrs. Murphy’s “weird, crazy, fun girl groups” said that her favorite part about Mrs. Murphy is that she is “very open and [willing to] listen” as they chat about boy drama, school, or life in general. When recalling the lunchtimes spent in Mrs. Murphy’s classroom with Subia, sixth grader Sophia Nguyen said that Mrs. Murphy is “nice and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.”

Mrs. Murphy performs in a skit during the 2019 K-3 Christmas Program. Photograph by Ryan Su.

Early in her career, Mrs. Murphy was encouraged by Dr. Ovitt, the elementary principal at the time, to be trained in a program called Banana Splits, which supports children whose parents are separated, divorced, or deceased. Mrs. Murphy eventually started Banana Splits at HBA and began to love the program as it provided a safe place for students to share about their problems. “It grew into a really great experience not only for the kids but for me, and I got to build a lot of friendships and relationships to get to know the struggles and the pain of kids whose parents are divorced,” she said.

Mrs. Murphy’s favorite things about HBA are spending time with kids, working with parents, and being with her coworkers, whom she calls family. Her plans for retirement include traveling to places like Italy, Egypt, Ireland, and Portugal. She wants to continue helping people, specifically doing more mission work. Also, she hopes to continue tutoring students or possibly becoming a substitute teacher at HBA. When reflecting on her time at HBA, Mrs. Murphy said, “[My job is] my joy, knowing that I’m honoring God with my life. And I believe he will continue to give me opportunities to serve him after I retire.”

Mr. Mike Hu, High School Science Teacher

Mr. Mike Hu

Mr. Hu has worked at HBA for 11 years but has been teaching for a total of 50 years. After hearing that HBA was in need of an AP Chemistry teacher a few weeks before the start of a new school year, Mr. Hu visited the HBA high school campus on a whim, “in shorts, a t-shirt, and slippers” and met principal Marsha Hirae. Then, two days before the first day of school, Mr. Hu was hired and planned on teaching for only a year. His love for the students and teachers at HBA prolonged his stay for another decade. He’s taught Chemistry and AP Chemistry, and has helped with the Interact Club, Chinese Club, Chess Club, and It’s Academic. He was also the science department chair at HBA for eight years. 

Senior Jasmine Oki, a student of Mr. Hu’s AP Chemistry class last year, said, “[Mr. Hu] managed to teach us such a challenging course in an enjoyable way. He always told us funny and interesting stories about his family and his time in college. Also, he roasted us a lot whenever we gave an incorrect answer or did something dumb in class, which taught me that [while] it’s important to prioritize my academics, I should enjoy the work that I’m doing; I shouldn’t stress myself out or overwork myself to the point that I sacrifice my happiness and mental health.” 

Senior Johnson Lin, another student of Mr. Hu’s AP Chemistry class, agreed, “I think one of the most engaging aspects of his class is his daily dose of anecdotes and advice! His witty sarcasm and humor always makes me crack up during class, and I’m sure that everyone enjoys his jokes because it lightens up the academic atmosphere during class.” For example, one of Lin’s most memorable moments in class was when Mr. Hu gave a haircut to senior Logan Wong. However, Lin added, “[Mr. Hu is] also one to take situations seriously, as he motivates us to work as hard as we can while offering all his resources to us when we need it, whether it’s personal situations, Chemistry talks, or college input.” One of the most important lessons Mr. Hu’s students will remember is to never be afraid to ask questions.

Mr. Hu is a veteran chaperone of HBA school trips. Taken at the Fuji-Q Highland Theme Park during the 2018 Japan Trip, Mr. Hu poses with a power ranger, fellow chaperone Elena Yoo, and students Cobi Pimental (’19) and Janessa Chun (’19).

Mr. Hu’s favorite memories are of seniors, like Oki and Lin, finding out that they have been accepted into their desired colleges. When asked about any advice he has for students, Mr. Hu said, “I would say try your best. And whatever your discipline is, you try for the best school. And wherever you go, it could be UH or Harvard, it doesn’t matter, you do your best. You make the best out of it. Later on life, it pays off. I think you have a better life.” He believes that his job as a teacher is to prepare students for the next chapter of their lives, and he will miss seeing the energy and excitement when students receive their acceptance letters. In addition to the students, Mr. Hu says that he will also miss the camaraderie among teachers at HBA. 

When asked about his plans for retirement, Mr. Hu jokingly replies that he will be sitting at home, watching Hallmark movies, and eating malasadas. More seriously, he plans on travelling with his wife to places like Iceland, France, Portugal, Spain, Japan, and China. Besides exploring the world, Mr. Hu hopes to read more, play the piano again, and find something entirely new to do. Maybe he could be persuaded to open a barbershop?