HONOLULU – Ken Kang, a proud graduate of Aiea High School who returned as a teacher to give back to the students and community has become the latest recipient of the coveted Milken Educator Award. Regarded as the "Oscar Award of Teaching," the award honors outstanding excellence in education and comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize.
Kang, Aiea High's Technology Coordinator received the surprise award in a school-wide assembly in front of over 1,000 cheering students, teachers and staff members. Kang's work with students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses and his leadership in developing the technological infrastructure at Aiea High and six other schools in the Aiea Complex impressed the Milken Family Foundation.
"Ken's diligent work in improving technology resources and training his fellow teachers have advanced Aiea High and all the schools in the Aiea complex and have shaped students' passion for STEM learning," said Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. "His devotion to his alma mater is tremendous and we congratulate and thank him for being such an inspiration for our students."
After getting real-world experience in the engineering field, Kang was asked by his former teacher and mentor, Mr. Wayne Tokuhama, to assist Aiea High's Career and Technical Education department. He made the decision to get his teaching degree and started as a part-time teacher in 2004.
"I totally realized that this warm feeling of working with students, being able to help them focus on their futures, was so much more rewarding that just finishing up my project or my design," said Kang. "I felt that much more joy in giving back to our students, who will become our future."
Kang started Aiea High's first STEM class in 2015, engaging a class of seniors with little coding or programming experience with interactive lessons to solve real-world challenges. Kang encouraged them to approach problems in different ways and weigh the effectiveness of their results. At the end of the year, students presented capstone projects on medical and environmental issues that included tech systems, products and programs based on scientific processes. Each student graduated with STEM honors.
Focusing on multiple initiatives to improve technology resources, empower teachers and increase student involvement, Kang helped Aiea High to integrate AppleTV into its 60 classrooms to provide new options for innovative learning. Kang also focused on improving teacher collaboration by training staff on Google Classroom, Google Docs and Infinite Campus. Kang has also run district-level workshops to help all seven schools in the Aiea Complex area to improve and streamline their communications systems, upgrading phone and intercom systems, campus digital marquee signs and computer software.
Kang co-chairs Aiea High's academic review team, collaborating with colleagues to improve student achievement. He leads Tech Nights to increase technology awareness in the community, which is especially important to families who lack access to equipment or the internet, and is a leader in Aiea High's Hour of Code and robotics programs.
Kang is a 1992 graduate of Aiea High and a graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1997. He later earned a degree in secondary education and educational technology in 2005.
The Milken Educator Awards program, which was launched by the Milken Family Foundation (MFF) in 1987, has been described as "the Oscars of teaching" by Teacher magazine. Kang is the 76th Hawaii teacher to receive the Milken Educator Award since Hawaii joined the program in 1990. The 76 Hawaii recipients have received awards along with a total of $1.9 million in prize monies. For more information, photos and video, visit http://bit.ly/2se1sWK.