This story originally appeared in the winter 2016 Harker Magazine.
Keith Hirota is Harker’s middle school history department chair, as well as co-principal of the middle school summer program. He counts running an 8-mile race in 52 minutes and earning his B.A. in history and his M.Ed. among his greatest accomplishments, and, along with his wife and son, enjoys his adorable rescue dog, Buddy, who they think is a terrier/corgi mix. Hirota was born in Pennsylvania, but had the good fortune to grow up in Hawaii, an experience that clearly contributes to who he is today. He reflects on what Hawaii means to him and some great advice he’s always tried to follow.
What makes you feel like a kid again?
Visiting Hilo and doing the activities with my son that I did when I was a child, like body surfing and boogie boarding at Hapuna Beach, dining at the local hole-in-the-wall restaurants and jumping into freshwater ponds from a 10-foot waterfall.
What do you love most about your life?
Living each day surrounded by positive, kind and thoughtful students and colleagues.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
My first job was in high school, bagging groceries at the market. My uncle told me, “Remember, there’s always something to do. If you’re not bagging groceries, pick up a broom or straighten out some shelves … always find something to do.”
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
Having been raised by my grandmother, aunts and uncles.
What helps you persevere when you feel like giving up?
My judo and wrestling coaches instilled in us that quitting is the “easy” way out.
When did you first really feel like an adult?
Surrounded by middle schoolers, I have yet to cross that road.