Civil Beat Staff

Viola Gaskell

Viola Gaskell is Civil Beat’s education reporter. Born and raised in Hana, Maui, she grew up in Hawaii public schools, and is deeply interested in the inner workings of the state’s education system and its effects on Hawaii’s youth.

After a stint as a foreign correspondent, she returned to Maui in 2021 and became the associate editor of Maui Times, where she wrote, photographed and edited stories for print and online publication.

Her coverage of the landmark Hong Kong protest movement was published in papers and on news sites in the U.S., Australia and Europe by DPA during her year-long tenure with the Berlin-based press agency. Viola has written about Hong Kong and China for news sites like Al Jazeera, The Independent and VICE, and has published dozens of multimedia stories with publications including Flux Hawaii and Whetstone Magazine about topics from Hawaii’s lei industry to air pollution solutions across Asia.

In 2020, Viola was a mentor with Solutions Journalism Network for Nigeria-based journalist Ifedayo Ogunyemi.

Hawaii’s State Board Of Education Draft Plan Includes Higher Reading And Math Goals Viola Gaskell/Civil Beat/2022

Hawaii’s State Board Of Education Draft Plan Includes Higher Reading And Math Goals

BOE board members highlighted a need for higher basic academic achievement for all students, and more support for minorities and English learners.

After-School Programs Have More Funding But Staffing And Enrollment Remain Challenges Viola Gaskell/Civil Beat/2022

After-School Programs Have More Funding But Staffing And Enrollment Remain Challenges

Beneficial after-school programs received millions in pandemic-relief funding, but more than 1,000 Oahu families are still waitlisted because of staffing shortages. 

Hawaii BOE Seeks More Community Input For Its Strategic Plan Viola Gaskell/Civil Beat 2022

Hawaii BOE Seeks More Community Input For Its Strategic Plan

The Board of Education will allow stakeholders to have another say on a new plan that will direct public education in Hawaii for the next several years.

Adult Learners Thought This Program Was A Path To College. They Were Wrong Hawaii DOE Facebook/2016

Adult Learners Thought This Program Was A Path To College. They Were Wrong

Hawaii schools continued to operate a popular alternative diploma program from 2014 to 2019, despite it not meeting federal standards. Now some of those graduates are unable to access financial aid. 

Why Parents Want ‘More Of A Voice’ In Hawaii’s Education System Viola Gaskell/Civil Beat/2022

Why Parents Want ‘More Of A Voice’ In Hawaii’s Education System

Stakeholders are cautiously hopeful that the state’s new plan for public education will reflect their feedback this time around.

Hawaii Schools Are Struggling To Help English Learners Recover From Pandemic Setbacks Viola Gaskell/Civil Beat/2022

Hawaii Schools Are Struggling To Help English Learners Recover From Pandemic Setbacks

Distance learning had an outsized effect on students learning English. The DOE hopes more qualified teachers will turn things around.

Charter School Oversight Is Still A Source of Contention In Hawaii Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Charter School Oversight Is Still A Source of Contention In Hawaii

Hawaii’s only charter school authorizer is charting a path to progress, but some school leaders remain skeptical about the commission’s ability to both regulate and support the schools.

Kalani High School STEM Teacher Named Teacher Of The Year Department of Education/2022

Kalani High School STEM Teacher Named Teacher Of The Year

Michael Ida, Hawaii’s 2023 teacher of the year, says kids are ready to learn again.

Hawaii Schools Are Inching Back Toward Pre-Pandemic Student Achievement Levels Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Hawaii Schools Are Inching Back Toward Pre-Pandemic Student Achievement Levels

Schools across the state showed modest gains in test scores, but it will likely take years for students to fully recover academically.