"I will always remember the smile on my Dad’s face as you came down palm drive. He sat on the wall and clapped and grinned. He was so proud of you. Mahalo."
Aloha President Jim Scott
After a quarter century, Jim Scott ’70 retired as president of Punahou School on June 30, 2019. How can we thank him for 25 years of service that established Punahou as a global thought leader in education? Not only did he skillfully navigate the School from the 20th century into the 21st, he transformed it – along with the lives of thousands of students who experienced Punahou under his leadership.
The Punahou ‘ohana has honored Dr. Scott in a multitude of ways over the past year: Alumni and friends of the School joined him at regional celebrations; many have shared messages of gratitude which are published below; and numerous donors have contributed to one of the two community gifts in his name – the James Kapae‘alii Scott ’70 Grades 2 – 3 Playground in the Kosasa Community and the James Kapae‘alii Scott ’70 Endowed Financial Aid Fund.
Students have honored Dr. Scott in Chapels, May Day Programs and Holokū, while faculty and staff paid tribute to Dr. Scott along with other retirees in this year's Aloha Ceremony.
School volunteer groups found unique ways to celebrate Dr. Scott throughout the year at meetings and events. And community leaders – locally and nationally – have recognized his success in a variety of ways.
Enjoy this video of the Punahou community coming together to say one final mahalo, and to bid Dr. Scott a fond aloha.
Messages and Memories
"Wow, have I known you for that long? All I have to say is simply: thank you for your love, support, your true character and for seeing Carly through her 13 years. Your unconditional support is one we will never forget. Mahalo for being family! Best of everything to you, towards your next chapter. Cheers to a peaceful life!"
"Jim, I have been lucky to work for you years ago and then to send Olivia to a school that you transformed in your time. As a young teacher working for you I recall your great ambitions of creating public private partnerships and your commitment to social justice and financial aid. Many years later as Olivia entered kindergarten and now is a junior I feel the presence of that important work all the time. It is with deep gratitude and respect that I wish you a wonderful retirement. Thank you for al you have done and the impact you have made macro and micro in our lives. Mahalo!"
"Your leadership shaped my 13 years at Punahou, and I remember seeing you and your growing family frequently throughout the years. I've always known you as Mr. Aloha and a wonderful father, seeing you with your children so much and always greeting everyone with a smile. It wasn't until high school that I realized how much you do for us all. I learned that (at the time) the true cost for each student per year was $3,000 more than our tuition. You and the Punahou ‘ohana tirelessly campaigned and raised funds to lower costs and provide the best opportunities for us. Mahalo nui loa for everything you have done and continue to do. We will pay it forward and impact our communities throughout the world."
"I will never forget your first year as President. I was AD at the time, teaching in the classroom and coaching basketball. You called me into your office, almost as if it was a self-assigned homework task, and asked me many questions. They centered around two things: one, how can I be the best president I can be? And two, what are your views on the school's future, given your unique perspective as an alum, a 3x parent, a coach, and an administrator. I was humbled that you were interested in my opinions and I also felt grateful that Punahou had not only hired one of its own, but that Punahou hired someone who was interested in lots of perspectives. What a way to respect and empower those who work for you! Thank you so much for your 25 years of service and for the transformation you shared with others as we headed into the 21st century."
"When I was applying to college, we met 1-on-1 so that you could mentor me and even wrote me a letter of recommendation. I remember being a little awestruck but your poise and your calm demeanor, and frankly flattered that you had the time to care about individual students like myself. I became an EMT in Baltimore while studying Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. I would eventually graduate from Johns Hopkins with a Bachelor's and a Master's before I moved to California to begin my training as a doctor at the University of California, Irvine. Ten years later, I'm on the cusp of realizing my dream to become an emergency medicine physician, and you are finishing your journey at Punahou and beginning on a new chapter of your own. I wish you the very best, and I want you to know that you have my eternal gratitude for all that you've done to be a mentor and role model to me all those years ago."
"Thank you Dr. Scott. I spoke with you just once during my years studying at Punahou, as we crossed paths one afternoon on the track, me on my way toward the snack bar. I was nervous as you approached, hoping to remain invisible and cover for my lack of confidence to speak. You smiled and gave me a welcoming, "hello." In that brief second, I felt a warmth that made me feel that I was apart of the Punahou ‘ohana. Thank you, sir, for your work which allowed a young boy from Waipahu a chance to proudly carry the Punahou name into the 21st century. Mahalo nui loa."
"Dr. Scott, you became president of Punahou when I was in about 2nd grade. My teacher was Mrs. Lohmeier. I was in the 13+ club at Punahou, so my entire young life revolved around the school, and I feel so fortunate to have gotten to attend Punahou all those years. My experiences, classes, schoolmates and teachers there set me up for the bright and successful life I lead today. Thank you for guiding all of us during those years and beyond. I hope to send my children to Punahou one day so that they can enjoy an illustrious education as well. Your inimitable contributions to Punahou will never be forgotten!"
"Dr. Scott, the Punahou ‘ohana could not have asked for a better leader over the past 25 years. Your track record is undeniable in that you took an extraordinary vision for what Punahou could be and turned it into a reality. I still cannot believe how far Punahou has come! However, your true legacy is in how you made us feel. You welcomed everyone into the community, led with a passionate yet calm sense of authenticity, and exemplified values that brought out the best in each of us. Thank you for being an incredible role model, coach, and friend."
"Jimmy ... Mahalo Nui Nui ... From a member of your class of 70."
"Dr. Scott always showed he cared about the kids and made it a point to lead by example. Always looked up to him, even in the early days when he started as president during 1994, when I was just fifteen. Dr. Scott, thank you for everything you've done for Punahou and education in general."
"Congratulations on your great career and your retirement, and best wishes for the next stage. I knew when "we" lost you from Catlin Gabel that you were going to the right place for the long term. You left a legacy in two places."
"My family truly appreciates all you've done for Punahou in making it more egalitarian, and socially responsible, yet keeping up its scholastic excellence all these years. See you around and many blessings to you and your family always."
"I live in Marina del Rey so am doubly disappointed that I will be out of town [during the upcoming PAA regional event] and not able to thank you personally for all your years of exceptional leadership at Punahou. Wishing you all the best going forward! Mahalo and Aloha,!"
"You've meant so much to me and my entire ‘ohana. I cannot thank you enough for what you have done personally and professionally for me. I think of what you have done to help me be where I am - and am so grateful to you. Best wishes. '... until we meet again - may God hold you in the palm of his hand.' "
"Many thanks for creating many opportunities for all who attended Punahou during your leadership term. You have transformed not only the campus, but the hearts and minds of all your alumni and parents of alumni."
"Jim, great to see you and Dana and be able to catch up. I love the direction the school is going in particularly with the scholarship program and sustainable energy initiatives. I hope to be in Hawaii early spring and will try to contact you while I'm there. Aloha!"
"While I was not privileged to attend Punahou, I was privileged to be a student in your US History Class at Stevenson in the late ’70s, and I've followed your outstanding career in academic leadership since. Congratulations on a fantastic career!"
"Thank you and congratulations for all the amazing years. Punahou has changed my life and has prepared me for the future ahead. Mahalo."
"Many, many mahalos to President Scott for sharing so generously of your talents in guiding Punahou. Ditto to Maureen, who with her sisters, were my babysitting charges in Waialua Plantation."
"Dressing up as a bug (roach?) for our Variety Show in 2012! King of the Roaches!" #StayinAlive #2012:ApocalypseNOT
"Dr. Scott, At graduation 2006, as I walked across the stage, my arm extended to shake your hand, you gave me a big bear hug. The photographer (Uncle Steve) was able to capture that moment. It hangs on a wall of my childhood bedroom. Thanks for the memories and your constant leadership. Aloha."
"Even though you do it every year, I will always remember your role as a pirate lord in our ’05 Variety Show. It meant a lot. :) Look forward to seeing you at many Imu Gangs to come!"
"Just wanted to reiterate our sincere gratitude for all that you've done in creating life-changing opportunities for the Valencia family."
"When I questioned my mother, Ruby Newton, what she knew of Jim Scott, she said, "Oh, he was a good boy. He never had to go to Dr. Johnson's office." Best of luck!"
"Jim, aloha! My life was set on course by my Punahou experience. My father, aunt, sister and kids all went to Punahou and we are all forever grateful. Many blessings to you as you journey on."
"I still remember shaking his hand after receiving my diploma in 2015!"
"Thank you for your service to educating Hawaii's youth! You are and always will be my FAVORITE president!"
"Mahalo, Dr. Scott! Punahou is a better place because of your leadership and I feel that my time at Punahou (13+) was massively influenced by your presence at the helm. Congratulations on the next chapter of your journey, we will miss you a lot!"
Mahalo for the years of aloha and care for us over the year. You've given me the best education and experience to this day. I am honored and priviledged to have gone to Punahou during your time."
"I'm so sad you are leaving your post as President of our school and community, though I know you are ready for a well-deserved break! Your tenure has touched all of us, but your impact was most heavily felt by people like me, a native Hawaiian (kanaka maoli :)) student on financial aid. My mother, Terry Chock, who worked at the post office in Kailua, worked hard to enable me to attend Punahou, and it was your support for diversity that made our time there possible. Because of the fine teachers and other high-achieving students at Punahou, I had an education and experiences I never thought possible, never would have been exposed to otherwise. I studied Mandarin and went to China for the first time with the Wo International Center - which sparked an early international career in tech in Hong Kong and Beijing. I have since moved back to the U.S. and hope to move back to Hawai‘i in the near future to give back and serve our local community as you have. Thanks for showing me and other Hawaiian students what we can achieve and are capable of."
"Aloha, Dr. Scott! Thank you for all your years of service."
"Thank you for supporting our wonderful teachers at Punahou. So many of them have had lasting impacts on our lives. I still remember Susie Field ’72 making our BC Calculus class feel so special. She dubbed our class "Team BC," and told us we made "Varsity Math." Special teachers like her make Punahou such a wonderful place to learn and grown. Mahalo."
"Thank you for your vision and inclusivity! Punahou is a truly phenomenal place – a model for all others! Aloha and good luck!"
"Thank you, Jim Scott, for your great dedication and for making Punahou a better place. And even though I never went to this school, I can tell just from talking to you that you are a dedicated hard-working man. Keep striving for success! Godspeed."
"Mahalo for all the work you do to support and create a diverse, inclusive, vibrant Punahou community. I am so thankful each and every day to be a part of the Punahou ’ohana."
"Dr. Scott, don't go! I was a freshman entering Academy when you became president of Punahou, and I still remember shaking your hand four years later (which really says a lot because I have 3 kids. 4 and under. and can't remember much!). Thank you for your service and everything you've done for the school, and most importantly, my diploma! God bless!"
"Thank you for helping Punahou grow and develop students to become global ambassadors full of purpose and compassion. Enjoy the next part of your life voyage!"
"Thank you for all you've done for Punahou the past 25+ years. We are all so grateful for what you've done. Good luck with your future endeavors!"
"You were a big part of what swayed me to choose Stanford over Lewis & Clark, and as with all such decisions in life, that has made all the difference. I was playing hooky from school the day of the decision deadline, and you invited me into your office to discuss. As we got into conversation, you took me back to when I first joined Punahou, and what a vast pond it felt like, but how that allowed me to grow over the years. You encouraged me to look at Stanford and Lewis & Clark, and ask, which would give me the most space to swim, just as Punahou had. It was an obvious decision, and you made that clear to me. Thank you for that."
"I remember a conversation we had one evening outside of Montague Hall at a post-reunion gathering (circa 2002). You asked about my experience at Punahou from the perspective of a Navy dependent, having moved around so much, and being in an environment where most of my peers had not. I will always be grateful for the compassion, sensitivity, and understanding you conveyed as we spoke. One of the greatest gifts given to me by Punahou is an unequivocal sense of belonging, which I carry with me today. Mahalo and all the best!"
"I would like to share my gratitude and appreciation to this great man. His personal support and encouragement to my daughter, especially during her junior and senior year in helping her to realize her path in life after Punahou, will never be forgotten and always treasured. Each and every day at Punahou was a building block towards the great person she is today. Dr. Scott set a great example for all the students at Punahou."
"Although I am a parent of two Punahou graduates, I am also an Educational Specialist in the HIDOE. Dr. Scott secured funding through a Punahou alumnus so that we could continue to support AP teachers at the annual Hawaii AP Summer Institute. Without the funding that Dr. Scott was able to have donated to HIDOE, the public school teachers would not have been able to attend these valuable sessions. It shows the philosophy of providing for the greater good. Dr. Scott was a wonderful Punahou President and a great supporter of education throughout the state."
"A big MAHALO to you, Jim, for seeing Punahou through twenty-five years with grace and dignity. Here's hoping your new chapter will be one of great happiness and fulfillment!"
"Thank you for extending the Punahou experience to those that could not get there without your vision. You will be a refreshing voice in American private education. With a sincere Aloha and Mahalo Nui Loa. "
"Jim housed me when I was interviewing for a position at Catlin Gabel School in April 1992, it was a test! He had a Black Lab who was trained to retrieve and hide the shoes and socks of interested teachers, I woke up to finding I had no shoes or socks for my interviews! I am still in Portland and often bump into Alumni and friends and, although I served under Jim for just two years, the impact he had upon us in regard to diversity and in advocating for equity still resonate within the community in Portland. Personally, Jim welcomed my family to Catlin and made sure that our journey into a new way of life was made easier. His smile and generosity truly made our transition easy. We, as a family, still talk about 'Jim,' I was envious of the Punahou community but I know that children were given an experience that will echo in conversations around dinner tables. Jim, you are loved way beyond the shores of your islands, enjoy this next phase of your journey."
"Thank you Dr. Scott for your years of service to Punahou!"
"I remember that at age 13 or so I was your catcher, along with Fern and the Kreutz's at Kahala. You folks were so supportive and proud and you were a good teammate. You were destined for greatness. I am so happy that you have achieved your potential and that your efforts benefitted our school that provided us with such wonderful opportunity and confidence to take on the world, which is what our parents dreamed for us. Mahalo and God bless you my friend."
"A big MAHALO for all your help and support over the years to the build up of the Tokyo alumni chapter, Punahou Alumni Association Japan (PAAJP)! Your frequent visits with the Japan-based alumni have made the chapter what it is today. 200+ members strong and growing with stable well organized leadership and enthusiasm for future growth! Domo Arigato Gozaimasu!"
"Back in high school I always admired the way you could interact, relate, and inspire the many social groups that are part of the high school experience. Thus I was overwhelmed with appreciation when you took the time to come and watch me a play a tennis match for Cal against your great Stanford team in 1972. We lost but I think like so many people who have come into contact with you in your 25 years as president at Punahou, your presence means so much."
"My eternal gratitude and thanks for all you've done to enrich the lives of my family over the years and for making me -- just a faculty spouse, parent, and now grandparent -- feel like I'm truly part of the Punahou ‘ohana."
"Thank you for your leadership during my time at Punahou, a period I cherish and look back on fondly. Mahalo!"
"Jim, are you sure you don't owe me a paper? Let me tell you how proud I am to be a Punahou teacher ... best job in the world! Thanks for your generation of service: from history student to President is an incredible journey! And for all the financial aid you have given so many. And the renewal of our campus ... I want to be a student all over again."
"So grateful for your tireless efforts to diversify Punahou’s student body over the years. Have fond memories of Punahou softball ’72 - ’73 and Stanford days (’73 - ’74). Wishing you all the best for your next adventure."
"Thank you so much Dr. Scott for being the Heart of Punahou. Thank you for supporting me as an educator and helping me to celebrate the wonderful children under our care. Thank you for supporting me through my personal health challenges. May the Good Lord bless you and shine good health and happiness upon you as you enter a new phase of your life. Yes, retirement is truly wonderful!. My best wishes to you and your lovely family."
"Thank you, Jim, for all of the sacrifices that you personally made so that you could give your all to Punahou. We were lucky to have you at the helm all these years. I remember you as a teacher's assistant (I think that was your title) sitting in the grass talking with students when I was in high school at Punahou. I could not imagine that Dr. McPhee would ever retire and that you would be the next President - what a thrill! I wish you much aloha and joy in your future endeavors!"
Thank you for your years of dedication to Punahou. Congratulations on your retirement. I'm curious, wondering if you were ever involved in a rear end collision on H-1(?) one morning on the way to school. if yes, I was in the car that was hit. I've always wanted to ask but never got around to it.
"You may remember me as Bob Price's sister and it is in both our names and his memory that I write. Through the Punahou Bulletin, Bob followed your career with great interest and, though he was never able to express it in person, looked upon you as a friend. Wishing you and your family all the best in this next phase of your lives and, most importantly, good health and many happy moments."
"Jim, I had eight wonderful years with you at Punahou and still consider them to be the highlight of my career! It was a bright and happy finale to my 44 years of full-time teaching! Thank you for your undying support of the Band Program at Punahou School and of me personally. We come back to Hawai‘i as often as we can to bask, onsite, in the glow of those memories. Without a doubt, you shepherded the School through some significant pivotal changes to what it will become without losing the vision of what it has been! That takes wisdom and dedication, and we are all richer for it. Thanks from both of us!"
Although I am a parent of two Punahou graduates, I am also an Educational Specialist in the HIDOE. Dr. Scott secured funding through a Punahou alumnus so that we could continue to support AP teachers at the annual Hawaii AP Summer Institute. Without the funding that Dr. Scott was able to have donated to HIDOE, the public school teachers would not have been able to attend these valuable sessions. It shows the philosophy of providing for the greater good. Dr. Scott was a wonderful Punahou President and a great supporter of education throughout the state.
"I remember Jimmy from Elementary School and all throughout our time at Punahou and then working under his leadership for 19 years as a school librarian. He was always a leader even as a child. I noticed that he was always running on the playground when I was playing jacks and then as our senior class president, he was always kind and reflective. As our school leader, he implemented a compassionate, inclusive agenda that encompassed our greater community. I will always remember Dr. Scott as Jimmy, a friend and colleague."
"I've only encountered you a few times during my Punahou journey but during those times you've made much such a huge impact on my life. Your small gestures of kindness like smiling and saying hi to me whenever I saw you on campus meant the world to me, especially when I was an incoming freshman. This year I will be attending your alma mater, Stanford; I look forward to the journey and hope to follow after your example!"
"Aloha e Dr. Scott. Mahalo nui loa for being such a wonderful president and for leading Punahou School with courage and compassion. I always thank ke Akua that I had the privilege of serving the school under your strong leadership. You have been an inspiration to me. I've watched you hold yourself high and listened closely to the words you shared with the community: 'To whom much is given, much is expected' will always make me think of you. Mahalo for being a blessing to me, my ʻohana and the greater community. Na ke Akua e mālama a hoʻopōmaikaʻi mau iā ʻoe i nā lā a pau o kou ola ʻana. May God continue to bless and care for you all the days of your life."
"Jim Scott was president of Punahou for nearly my entire time there. And I saw him over and over and over. He was a constant positive force on campus and in the community. He was always in every sense of the term the consummate gentleman. He even forgave me for dunking him in the dunking booth what must have been over 20 times over numerous years! I will miss his leadership and kindness at Punahou but I wish him every happiness! Aloha Jim!"
"Thank you, Dr. Scott, for your 25 years of leadership at Punahou. I will warmly remember how accessible you were to all students and how you knew us all by name. It has been amazing to see all that you have accomplished and how the school has changed and grown under your tenure. Punahou continues to be a world-class school and I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to attend. Mahalo and warm wishes for your retirement."
"I remember being a sophomore symphony orchestra member assigned to play in a quartet at a holiday 1994 gathering at the President's Home. You had a way of putting everyone in the room at ease (including the nervous cello player). I noted that evening that this new guy is pretty nice, learned that true leadership is infused with grace. You encouraged all of us to recognize what an amazing gift we had received in a Punahou education and reminded us to pay it forward. As a student I didn't fully grasp what that all meant, but the message has stuck with me and what it means continues to evolve. Mahalo for your gracious leadership!"
"Wishing you great times, fulfillment in everything you pursue and good health and happiness. You've maintained rock steady leadership for the school and we've been proud to have you lead. Thank you for your support of the arts. You will be missed."
"When Jimmy was selected as president of Punahou, I knew the Trustees had picked a winner. Jim had always had his finger on the pulse of the school and the student body. In first grade he led a "gang" of boys every morning on Barwick field and would strategize a mock attack against the "other gang," led by Stretz Hendrickson. I don't remember who won or lost, no one ever got hurt, and it usually led to just playing on the swings afterwards, but Jimmy had already shown a trait for leadership. As I remember, he was also the Junior Class student body president. He always had time for whoever engaged him, or he engaged, which was another leadership trait. Management by wandering around. You did really well with what you were given Jimmy, the class of LXX is really proud of you."
"I am so grateful that I was part of your Punahou life! I still remember clearly your first day of arrival. I am so grateful for your visions for Punahou, but most of all, I am so touched with your KIND heart of ‘ohana. Wishing you the best in your final year full of wonderful events, and I look forward to seeing you soon on campus!"
"From your insightful and heartwarming talks at many a school event, to your ability to connect with students be they kindergarteners during Christmas or seniors during graduation, to the way you have thoughtfully guided the Punahou community to grow, excel, and give back ... you are an inspiration. I will always remember looking forward to starting off each school year listening to your opening remarks for the annual PFA Room Parent Welcome Coffee, and ending the school year watching clips of your Commencement speech. Your perceptive comments, relevant anecdotes, and keen sense of humor always set the tone to start off well, and finish well. Now that your own Presidential journey at Punahou is coming to a close, we know you will finish this quarter-century journey leaving behind a legacy no ka oi as well. Mahalo nui loa for your leadership over the decades, and we hope to cross paths again at a future Punahou event, Harvard Club meeting, or elsewhere. Until then, we wish you and your ‘ohana all the best!"
"Aloha Dr. Scott, thank you for your leadership, and for guiding Punahou for the entirety of my academic career. You have been good to my mother, and to me as well. I remember coming into the office after school, and being able to see you hard at work. You always had a kind of quiet strength in your demeanor, that I still respect. Thank you for your part in shaping my school life, and in so doing, who I am now."
Relive President Scott's Farewell Tour through these stories:
London, June 28, 2018
Portland, September 14, 2018
Seattle, September 15, 2018
New England, November 4, 2018
Washington, D.C., November 7, 2018
New York, November 10, 2018
San Francisco, February 23, 2019
Los Angeles, March 2, 2019
Tokyo, March 20, 2019
Honolulu | Buff ’n Blue Forever: A Celebration of Punahou and Jim Scott, June 5, 2019
Honoring 25 Years of Transformative Leadership
Mahalo to the members of the Punahou family who have expressed gratitude to Dr. Jim Scott ’70 for his visionary leadership and extraordinary contributions through two naming opportunities.
James Kapae‘alii Scott ’70 Playground will be located on the future grades 2 – 3 side of the Sidney and Minnie Kosasa Community, mirroring Barwick Playground on the grades 4 – 5 side of the community.
James Kapae‘alii Scott ’70 Playground at Sidney and Minnie Kosasa Community for Grades 2 – 5
Reaffirming Punahou’s connection to its historical, geographical and spiritual center – the fresh waters of Ka Punahou – has been a hallmark of Scott’s tenure. The Kosasa Community celebrates that connection in a tangible way through its thoughtful incorporation of the New Spring into the design of its outdoor environments. This playground will always ring with the sound of children’s laughter as they grow and learn near this symbol of the School’s renewal.
James Kapae‘alii Scott ’70 Endowed Financial Aid Fund
Broadening access to a Punahou education for all of Hawai‘i’s brightest and most talented children has been a priority during Scott’s tenure. As a beneficiary of financial aid in his own youth, Scott understands how transformative this education can be and how important it is to remove the financial barriers that might prevent a child of great potential from attending Punahou. This endowed financial aid fund will give the gift of a Punahou education to such students in perpetuity.