HONOLULU - The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) named its 2016 Employee, Manager and Team of the Year award winners today, recognizing employees for their special and continued contributions to education and the students of Hawaii.
"Every one of our winners and nominees have shown exceptional dedication to our students and schools," said Kathryn Matayoshi, HIDOE Superintendent. "Their hard work is reflected in our students' achievements and have improved the overall education experience for our children, parents, teachers and staff."
Honowai Elementary's Lowell Kalani Spencer was named HIDOE's 2016 Employee of the Year for his meticulous work as head custodian. Mr. Spencer supervises a custodial staff and, under eight years of his supervision, the campus has bloomed with native Hawaiian plants in well-manicured gardens. His direction helped to provide seamless maintenance of school buildings and the campus grounds during a recent staffing shortage. His pride in the campus is evident in all of his work and that of his staff.
Ewa Makai Middle's Francis Santa Monica, Cafeteria Manager, was named HIDOE's 2016 Manager of the Year. Mr. Santa Monica embraces the school's vision to "Empower, Explore and Excel" and transformed the traditional role of a cafeteria manager to become a vital partner with the school's booster club to provide food service for special events and activities. His caring support ensures that students and teachers who are busy with lunchtime activities always have meals available. Teachers describe him as the "heart of the school" and students see him as a role model, setting a great example to follow.
The Windward District Office Autism Team was named HIDOE's 2016 Team of the Year. The team addresses the wide range of Autism Spectrum Disorders to serve students from pre-K through high school and provides training and support to families to help improve their lives. The team provides training to teachers that incorporate virtual walkthroughs to provide realism and illustrate best practices in action. Parents have commented that the training they received has helped them to better understand and cope with their autistic children.
The team is comprised of 23 members: Aletha Sutton, Brendan Ahern, Jennifer Bishop, Kali Carvalho, Bianca Chang, Heather Chapman, Verna Choy, Kari Crisler, Cynthia Hopkins, Rochelle Kekauoha, Danielle Mizuta, Carey Motohiro, Jon Motohiro, Meg Murphy, Roxanne Rokero, Melanie Sakai, Jakriz Villahermosa-Madsen, Dayna Williams, Tomoko Yokooji, Diane MacDonald, Ashley Tani, Aida Mercades and Travis MacDonald, along with 45 highly-trained Autism Educational Assistants.
Spencer, Santa Monica, and the Windward District Office Autism Team will represent HIDOE in the upcoming annual Governor's Awards for Distinguished State Service ceremony.
Today's event also recognized the outstanding efforts of the following HIDOE employees and teams:
Sustained Superior Performance Award
- Edgar Yoshida, Baldwin High School, Maui District
Team Excellence Award of Merit
- Aiea-Moanalua-Radford Complex Area Induction & Mentoring Team: Sue Bevacqua and Christine Braga
- Kapolei Elementary School Office Team: Karie Gomban, Wanda Goo, Denise Lee, Alyson Manuel, Muriel Takano and Leslie Veazie
- Olomana School Comprehensive Student Support System Team: Bob Christensen, Sheri Dennis, Tulifau Esene, Wilisoni Fatafehi, Mike Silva and Kelly Taniguchi