Hawaii public school teachers Daniel Taira (Lehua Elementary), Laura Cummings (Sunset Beach Elementary), Richard Brian Ogawa (Kanoelani Elementary) and Stacie Tateyama (Kipapa Elementary) have been selected as state finalists for one of the nation's most prestigious honors bestowed upon teachers — the Presidential Award of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, or PAEMST.
The PAEMST is the highest award K-12 mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers can receive from the U.S. government. The award alternates years between kindergarten through sixth grade and seventh to 12th grade teachers. During a visit to the nation's capital, award recipients will each receive a presidential citation at an awards ceremony and participate in discussions on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and STEM education priorities. Recipients will also receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation, which manages the PAEMST program on behalf of the White House.
"In our global society, advanced knowledge in STEM is vital to prepare our students for careers of the future and to maintain our nation's competitiveness," said Deputy Superintendent Phyllis Unebasami. "Our honorees' achievements pave the way forward for our students and give our science and math programs a solid foundation. Congratulations to each one of them on this prestigious award."
Daniel Taira, Lehua Elementary School,Mathematics
Daniel is a very humble and well respected teacher. His approach to mathematics goes beyond the textbook. He provides multi-sensory techniques to reach the various learning styles of his students. He makes all of his students believe that they are capable and able to reach their goals. One of his greatest strengths as a math teacher is his accessibility and the relationships he holds with his students. Daniel's students know that his door is always open. They come in before school, during recess and after-school if they need help. He never turns them away and will always pull up a chair next to them and ask see what they need help in. His students feel safe to ask him questions without being ridiculed or turned away. He is an effective teacher leader that always thinks of others before himself.
Laura Cummings, Sunset Beach Elementary School, Science
Laura has been one of the most valuable members of our teacher community in Hawai'i. The level of student engagement she produces is inspiring to other educators. She has consistently demonstrated that she is dedicated, self-directed and a pioneer in trying new concepts and materials. Laura develops strong rapport with her students, individualizes teaching methods to reach various learning styles and abilities, and empowers them to share their learnings with their community. Her leadership, dedication, and enthusiasm for teaching math and science is exemplary, inspiring, and unmatched. She demonstrates leadership, proficiency and enthusiasm, consistently raising the bar for her fellow colleagues through leading by example.
Richard Brian Ogawa, Kanoelani Elementary School, Science
RB's passion for science has consistently been evident through his classroom focus and content area integration. Walking into his science lab is like walking into a research center for the physical and biological sciences with a surrounding garden and aquaponics system. RB's integrated ideas and lessons along with the student engagement components of hands-on learning allows Kanoelani students to not only understand scientific concepts/procedures and how it relates to their world, but more importantly how the passion for science ultimately leads to making our world a significantly better place for everyone. RB is committed to promoting excellence in science education within the school community as well as the larger community through partnerships.
Stacie Tateyama, Kipapa Elementary School, Science
In Stacie's science instruction, students are not working individually, answering questions on a worksheet. Instead there are groups of students working together, asking questions, building models, taking data, and solving problems. A collaborative learning approach involves active communication and participation from all group members. At the same time the students are actively engaged and are having fun. Students around campus love their STEM lessons and working with Stacie. They are excited to see her in and out of the classroom. Students yell her name across campus just to get her attention and will run to give her hugs or to share stories of connections they are making with her lessons to their lives. Her teaching is making an impact and the students at Kipapa have developed a love for STEM.
Established in 1983, PAEMST is the highest award kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers can receive from the U.S. government. The award alternates years between kindergarten through sixth grade and seventh-12th grade teachers.
Nominees complete a rigorous application process that requires them to demonstrate their excellence in content knowledge and ability to adapt to a broad range of learners and teaching environments.
A panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists and educators at the state and national levels assess the applications before recommending nominees to the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving STEM education.
Awardees represent schools in all 50 U.S. states, Department of Defense Education Activity schools and schools in the U.S. territories American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.