HONOLULU – Ewa Makai Middle School teacher Vanessa Ching was named the 2018 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year. Ching received the state's top teaching award from Governor David Ige and Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto during a ceremony held at Washington Place this afternoon.
The honor is presented annually to a classroom teacher selected from more than 11,000 educators within the Hawaii State Department of Education. Ching was among seven District Teachers of the Year and one Charter School Teacher of the Year recognized today.
"Vanessa has made a tremendous impact on the culture at Ewa Makai Middle as coordinator of Student Activities and Green Initiatives, teaching students to reduce their carbon footprints and that of the entire school," said Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto. "Ewa Makai is the only school statewide to have won the National Green Ribbon School certification and her students take their environmental lessons home and share it with their families. Vanessa has done amazing work to improve the school and the Ewa community through her teaching."
"Developing a culture of environmentally conscious students, community members and parents, Vanessa worked to designate Ewa Makai Middle as a plastic-free school and won a refillable water station in a national contest with a powerful PSA," said Principal Kim Sanders. "Vanessa and her students wrote grants to develop an organic garden, aquaponics and a composting program towards becoming a waste-free school.
Her dedicated work has been an incredible learning
opportunity for our students and our entire campus and community have been
improved as a whole.”
Ching will represent Hawaii in the National Teacher of the Year program. Each April, the President of the United States announces the national winner. Today's Teacher of the Year ceremony included:
- A $500 award to each District Teacher of the Year by The Polynesian Cultural Center, the Teacher of the Year program's corporate sponsor for over 30 years, and an additional $1,000 award to the State Teacher of the Year
- A one-year lease of a new Kia Forte courtesy of the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association and Kia Hawaii to the State Teacher of the Year
In addition to Ching, Hawaii's District Teachers of the Year honored today are:
- Amanda Fretto, Kauai District, Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School
- Francine Hughes, Maui District, Hana-Lahainaluna-Lanai-Molokai Complex Area
- Gregg Iha, Central District, Leilehua-Mililani-Waialua Complex Area
- Erika Kaneo, Hawaii District, Waiakeawaena Elementary School
- Del Onaga, Windward District, Olomana School
- Cristin Priolo, Public Charter Schools, School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability (SEEQS)
- Naomi Salaveria, Honolulu District, Liholiho Elementary School
A proud graduate of Baldwin High School on Maui, Ching received her Bachelor's Degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a dual certification in Elementary Education and Special Education. Ching continued with a Master's Degree in Teaching Leadership from the National University at San Diego and a National Board Certification in Literacy Elementary-Middle Childhood. She began with the Hawaii State Department of Education as a Special Education teacher for grades K-6, teaching at Pearl Ridge, Aiea, Alvah Scott, Webling and Waimalu Elementary Schools, before becoming the Student Activities Coordinator, Green Initiatives Coordinator and Student Leadership and Yearbook Advisor at Ewa Makai Middle. Ching has taught in the Hawaii DOE for 14 years.
Click here for an event program for more details.