At every year's end, the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) bids a bittersweet "aloha" to many long-time teachers and support staff as they transition into retirement after years of devoted and dedicated service to Hawaii's keiki. Most of these employees often go unnoticed to the general public, but their hard work benefits all of Hawaii's students and teachers from behind the scenes.
"More than 630 HIDOE employees retired in 2015, which included teachers, administrators, counselors, librarians, specialists and support staff, among many others," said Barbara Krieg, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources. "We want to thank them all for their commitment and years of service to our students across the islands."
Two such employees are retiring after decades of selfless service to the HIDOE. The Office of Strategy, Innovation and Performance is bidding "aloha" to Patricia Ishimaru from the Assessment Section and Lori Nagakura from the Accountability Section.
The Assessment and Accountability Branch plays a key role in Hawaii's education system, administering statewide student assessments that cover all areas of academic standards including, Hawaiian Language, the Hawaii End-of-Course Exams, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the Smarter Balanced Assessments and the ACT College and Career Readiness Assessments, along with the Strive HI Performance System.
"During the most stressful time of year, testing, Pat was continuously there," said Stephanie Kozuma, Hickam Elementary Testing Coordinator. "Pat genuinely cared about each and every one of us and did her best to make it known by promptly answering our emails at all hours of the night… and most importantly, always making us feel that our job as test coordinators was respected."
Ishimaru began her HIDOE career 49-years ago. In 1966, she was a teacher at Naalehu Elementary and Intermediate School on the Big Island. After moving to Oahu, she taught at several schools before becoming an Educator Trainer at the Windward District for 20 years. She spent many summers assisting with scoring assessments, which led her to a Test Inservice Specialist position in the Assessment Section, where she's stayed for 22 years.
"I'm most proud of assisting teachers to understand the required procedures for assessments and making sure students are given the appropriate support they need," said Ishimaru. "I always want schools to know that we're here to support them."
Ishimaru said she will miss the relationships she's developed with her colleagues and school staff most of all. "We've really had good success based on our strengths and you become friends and form relationships with schools," said Ishimaru. "If you want life to be good, you have to support the next person. "
Lori Nagakura shares that same sentiment, as she will also be retiring after nearly 35 years. She joined HIDOE in 1980 as a teacher at the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind and later taught at the former Pohukaina School. She also served as a Resource Teacher at the Honolulu District for Special Education, Health, Comprehensive Student Support and Transitions, before moving into the Accountability Section as an Institutional Analyst.
"I never thought I'd be anything other than a Special Education teacher," said Nagakura, who loved working with special needs students. "I come from a family of teachers and I feel that I've had the opportunity to have worked with a diverse group of people with the same goal."
"Our office will truly miss Lori's and Pat's expertise and the contributions that they have made over their dedicated careers," said Tammi Chun, Assistant Superintendent for Strategy, Innovation and Performance. "Their hard work benefitted Hawaii's children and our teachers over many decades and we are very grateful for their service. We wish them both the very best."