Faculty Q & A: Get to know Mr. Alan Hodara


Juston Nees

Seabury Hall English teacher Alan Hodara works with senior Kyleigh Manuel-Sagon on an essay.

Juston Nees, Staff Writer

Many of Seabury Hall students will get a chance to be taught by the English department chair, Mr. Alan Hodara. Originally from New York, Hodara has taught at Seabury Hall for 25 years, and he currently teaches sophomore and senior English, along with other electives such as the History of American Music. Those who have not had the pleasure of being taught by Mr Hodara may recognize him from his musical performances in our all school assemblies, whether it be his vocal performances or showcasing his skill on the guitar.

What did you do before you came to Seabury Hall?
I lived on Oahu immediately before I came to Seabury Hall. I lived on Oahu for seven years where I got my teacher’s certificate and Masters in English, and I taught in the public schools in Pearl City High School and Waipahu Intermediate school at seventh and eighth, so I was hired at Seabury as a seventh and eighth grade English teacher.

What brought you to Seabury Hall?
Before that, I lived in Kona, and I was a carpenter. I was in hotel construction. I was a little into house construction, but mainly hotel construction. I graduated with my BA from State University of New York in Binghamton. I graduated in 1977 with a BA in English. But then I wanted to do things that were different. I moved to Kona and I worked on farms and I got into the carpentry trade. I did a lot of different things in Kona, fishing and things like that. But then I decided that I wanted to be an English teacher, so I went back to school at UH Manoa.

While we lived on Oahu, we already had our first child. We had two more children, so we had three kids, and I didn’t like our lifestyle. We were dropping off our kids at three different places. My oldest was in elementary. My middle in pre-school. My youngest was in daycare situation. My wife was working full-time. I didn’t like the city life. I didn’t like the busy life. And I had read a book called “ The World According to Garp.” John Irving was the author. In it, there was a character, Garp’s mother, who wanted the best possible education for her kids and she was a nurse so she got a job as a nurse at a private school. So that put the idea in my mind. I knew I wasn’t going to have very much money, but I wanted a more relaxed lifestyle and I wanted a good education for my kids, so that put the idea in my mind that I should get a job at a private school.

I started applying at private schools. But it just so happen that my wife’s sister worked here at Seabury Hall. My sister–in–law and brother–in–law were here. So that was an “in” for me. In 1990 I was applying. We thought we might end up moving back to the mainland. I applied to a lot of schools in California and all around, but we got hired at Seabury Hall. I was lucky because they had two English positions open that year.

I remember that you had mentioned before that you and your family had owned a candy shop at some point?
No, well, my grandfather owned a candy store, a corner candy store in Brooklyn.

That’s awesome. Can you tell me a little bit about what the lifestyle was like and what it entailed?
Of course. Well, first off, the candy store itself was the type of store that doesn’t really exist anymore. You could get a salami sandwich. You could get bubblegum, comic books. If you ordered a soda, the soda fountain had seltzer water and then the different syrups. So if you want a Coke it would be Coke syrup and seltzer water. But you could get a cherry Coke you could get what was called an egg cream, which was a kinda like a retro institution now. But an egg cream is like seltzer water and milk and chocolate syrup. It’s like carbonated chocolate milk and you just mix it up right there and so my grandfather started that business in the 1930s and I was born in 1955 and we lived around the corner from it. So I worked in that store from the time I was seven. But on Saturday night the papers would come and they would drop them in different piles. The piles would be in section like the advertising the comics the sports and the news. I would put the papers together to be ready for Sunday morning. So it was like an extended family. I was raised in an extended family. I had my grandparents, my mom and her brothers were all part of this. Eventually, we all moved away from that neighborhood. The store was sort of the center of our family life.

Wow, that sounds like something you would see in a TV show.
Yeah. There are actually stores like that but you stand in line. Now it’s a retro New York thing it’s like a candy store. It was sort of the center of the neighborhood. People would come and sit at the counter. They would order a five-cent seltzer and sit there for an hour. That’s when they would be talking about how the Yankees were doing and the politics and all that was going on the neighborhood. It was also multicultural at first. When I was younger, it was mainly the Jewish, the Irish-Catholic, Hispanic, Black so it was a mix. But as I grew older the neighborhood became more of the Hasidic Jew, which is the ultra orthodox Jew and they kind of took over the neighborhood. So now it is solid Hasidic Jew in that neighborhood.

What is your job as an English teach entail being at Seabury Hall ?
First of all, it involves being at Seabury Hall for an endless number of hours, let’s start with that! Then when I go home, I continue working! [Laughter.] So my job as an English teacher is pretty intense. As you know, we spend a lot of time with student papers editing, extra help. We have to come up with all the ideas. Pretty much at Seabury we generate all our own curriculum here. We don’t import curriculum. We are listening and learning about new ideas, but we have a very homegrown curriculum here at Seabury hall.

What is something interesting about you that students would be surprised to learn?
Well, everybody knows I play guitar, and I play guitar in the streets in Makawao with my guitar case open. :et me answer that question first of all in this way.

There might not be because at Seabury Hall I feel like, some of us, or a lot of us are such an open book, like everyone knows that I have three kids and my daughter went to Stanford. We are an open book! But what would they be surprised to know about me? I guess that I was a construction worker. I mean full on, hard-hat walking on 4 by 8s, six stories up. I worked in Waikoloa. That’s where I did most of my construction jobs. Waikoloa went from just nothing but rocks, and now on the Big Island, it’s like the equivalent of Kaanapali. It’s a line of hotels with a walkway and everything is totally developed, so I was there for a lot of that construction.

Do you have any advice for students that may be reading this article?
Yes, the last few years my big thing is to read. Be a reader. You can’t do anything better for yourself, for your mind than to actually read. I just find that a lot of students don’t really read. They sort of look like they are reading. They fake it. Then they search for different ways to fake it. But they are really shorting themselves. This is the time in your life. First of all, one of the jobs as an English teacher is to carve out time for you to read I put it on the calendar. This is time I want you to read. This is your homework time: read! Then read in the summer. Read for pleasure. If there is an issue going on the world read about it. Don’t let reading die. Because if reading dies, we are dead. We are dead. We are going to be manipulated and controlled by forces. Reading is the beginning of revolution that would be number one.