“It goes without saying that education is the linchpin that connects the present to our collective future,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki. “The contributions that these outstanding teachers make to their students and the state cannot be overstated. Through their extraordinary efforts, they are making a difference in both the lives of their young students and in the society that they will help shape. We owe all of them our heartfelt congratulations and thanks.”
The awardees were selected by the Hawaii Department of Education, which honors each year the state's best educators with its Teacher of the Year awards.
JAMIE TAKAMURA, a curriculum coordinator at Red Hill Elementary School, is the 2015 Central District Teacher of the Year. She was selected because of her outstanding team-building and leadership skills. She was instrumental in making Red Hill one of only three schools statewide to be recognized for high performance and closing the achievement gap in the last school year.
MASARU UCHINO, a third grade math teacher at Momilani Elementary School, is the 2015 Leeward District Teacher of the Year. He was selected because of his commitment to excellence in education and the instrumental role he plays in integrating standards-based learning into an original musical he writes, directs and produces each year. He also founded an afterschool running and fitness group, The Momilani Fit Factory. His recipe for success: create a culture of belief, optimism and perseverance, and students will achieve excellence.
ELIZABETH FRILLES, a science teacher at Olomana School, is the 2015 Windward District Teacher of the Year. Her efforts to transform her class into a safe haven for at-risk students resulted in individuals who consistently earn science, engineering and robotics awards. She incorporates project, cultural and problem-based education to engage students in complex and relevant lessons. Despite already serving as department head and in other leadership roles, she can often be seen coaching and mentoring student teachers and peers in her spare time.
DAVID HUITT, a history teacher at Kealakehe High School, is the 2015 Hawaii District Teacher of the Year. He has inspired his own students to pursue their dreams while teaching them humility through community service, which is a hallmark of David's curriculum. Huitt’s students have raised approximately $50,000 for orphans in India, cooked over 6,000 meals for the needy, and collected hundreds of bags of trash from roads, parks, and beaches. His co-workers have praised his relationships with students, his creative lessons, his patience and his true spirit of service.
RICHARD ARASE, a social studies teacher at Maui Waena Intermediate School, is the 2015 Maui District Teacher of the Year. He was selected for his proactive education method of turning students into classroom performers who take charge of their education. He believes his students can thrive with a safe learning environment and memorable experiences by transforming the curriculum into something exciting.
MARLY MADAYAG, a fifth grade teacher at Kalaheo Elementary School, is the 2015 Kauai District Teacher of the Year. She was chosen because of her organizational and creative skills which, combined with training in special education and the gifted and talented program, allow her to meet the needs of all learners. Madayag encourages her students to hunt for information and to find answers to their own questions. She believes teaching is about fostering students' ability to think for themselves.
As part of Education Week, the House also recognized winners of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for their commitment to community service. They included:
Kaytlen Akau, of Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, and Alexandra Skrocki, of Admiral Arthur W. Radford High School, as the Hawaii State Honorees for the 2015 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for their altruistic actions and their demonstration of peer leadership and exemplary community spirit. The pair will represent Hawaii at the national competition.
Jasmine Doan, of Seabury Hall School, and Jillian Madanay, of Lutheran High School of Hawaii, were named the Hawaii Distinguished Finalists for the 2015 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for their impressive community service activities and for demonstrating community pride.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is presented by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and honors young volunteers across America who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to serving their communities. The program chooses one honoree from the middle school and high school levels from each state and the District of Columbia for their hard work and dedication to volunteering. The National Association of Secondary School Principals is the leading organization of, and national voice for, middle and high school principals, assistant principals, and all other school leaders from across the United States.