HONOLULU – Washington Middle School teacher Sung Man Park was named Hawaii's 2017 State Teacher of the Year. Park received the state's top teaching award from Governor David Ige and Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi 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. Park was among seven District Teachers of the Year and one Charter School Teacher of the Year recognized today.
"Sung has done a magnificent job with his students as a mathematics teacher in public schools over twelve years," said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. "He began coaching Washington Middle School's math team in 2010 and they have won the MATHCOUNTS state championship every year since. That is a truly remarkable accomplishment."
Under Park's tutelage, three out of four students on Hawaii's 2016 MATHCOUNTS National Championship team were from Washington Middle School.
"Today, no Washington Middle School student goes in to any competition conceding first place to any other school because they know they have put the work in preparing to be the best that they can be and that give them a chance to win," said Washington Middle Principal Michael Harano. "This change in culture is attributable to a large extent to the work done by Sung Park. His personal commitment to excellence as a teacher is translated to his students, who know that much is expected of them and work extremely hard to meet that expectation."
The accomplishment Park holds most dear is the community of learners, composed of his former students, who return as mentors and coaches to his current middle school students. Through math, he develops a growth mindset, a love of learning, and resilience that are essential for student success in school and life. By his skillful, determined coaching and confidence building, his students overcome their temerity in competition.
After earning a Bachelor's Degree in Management and working in the business sector, Park began pursuing his second career in education, receiving a Post Baccalaureate degree in Mathematics Education. Park began with the Hawaii State Department of Education as a substitute teacher at Central Middle School before becoming a full-time math teacher at Washington Middle. He has experience teaching ESL Math students, along with Gifted and Talented middle school students in Algebra and Geometry.
Park 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 30 consecutive years, and an additional $1,000 award to the State Teacher of the Year
- A one-year lease of a new car courtesy of the Hawaii Automobile Dealers' Association to the State Teacher of the Year
In addition to Park, Hawaii's District Teachers of the Year honored today are:
- Kay Beach, Public Charter Schools, School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability (SEEQS)
- Luane Higuchi, Leeward District, Waianae Intermediate School
- Tracey Idica, Central District, Aiea High School
- Kristi Kusunoki, Windward District, Kailua Intermediate School
- David Mireles, Kauai District, Kapaa High School
- Laurie Ann O'Brien, Hawaii District, Keaau High School
- Jennifer Suzuki, Maui District, Maui Waena Intermediate School
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