HONOLULU - Jason Pavia, a third-grade teacher at Kaiulani Elementary, today was surprised with a $2,000 Voya Unsung Heroes award.
The honor is given to K-12 educators who have excelled in using new teaching strategies to improve learning. Up to 100 winners from across the country are selected each year by Scholarship America, a national non-profit educational support and student aid service organization. Educators submit applications for the $2,000 grant by describing projects they have initiated or would like to pursue. Each project is judged on its innovative method, creativity and ability to positively influence the students.
Pavia said grant funds will help expand a vermicast system students use to study food decomposition as part of the school's science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, curriculum. He plans to have students document the process through pictures and possibly movies.
"The kids just love getting dirty, and digging right in," Pavia said when asked what made the project a success. "Kaiulani Elementary School is very proud of our third grade teacher Mr. Pavia," Jill Puletasi, the school's principal, said after a school award assembly.
"Mr. Pavia's dedication to students' success is highlighted in his continual efforts to sustain learning environments that bring real life into the classroom, while allowing students to explore their untapped talents."
Pavia, who has been at Kaiulani since 2012, previously taught at Ewa Beach Elementary.
Three of the 100 finalists will compete for additional prizes, including a top $25,000 award, $10,000 for the runner-up, and $5,000 for third place. The winners are chosen by the Educators Advisory Board, which consists of six distinguished educators.
The winning projects can be viewed at
www.unsungheroes.com. Applications for the 2015 award are being accepted through April 30, 2015.
About the Hawaii State Department of Education
The Hawaii State Department of Education is the ninth-largest U.S. school district and the only statewide educational system in the country. It is comprised of 255 schools and 34 charter schools, and serves more than 185,000 students. King Kamehameha III established Hawaii's public school system in 1840. The DOE is in the midst of a range of historic efforts to transform its public education system to ensure graduates succeed in college or careers. To learn more, visit HawaiiPublicSchools.org.