Catherine Caine named Hawaii’s 2015 State Teacher of the Year


The Waikiki Elementary second-grade teacher engages students with meaningful assignments that challenge them to make a difference in their communities. Caine will represent Hawaii in the National Teacher of the Year program.

​​​​​​​​​​​HONOLULU — Waikiki Elementary teacher Catherine Caine​ today was named Hawaii's 2015 State Teacher of the Year. Caine, a national board certified educator who challenges students to address real-life issues through hands-on lessons, received the state's top teaching award during a ceremony held at the state Capitol auditorium 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. Caine was among seven District Teachers of the Year recognized today.

"Catherine brings out the best in her students, integrating technology to excite them and tackling relevant issues to engage them. She makes learning meaningful, memorable and fun," said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. "Catherine's dedication to students is matched only by her exemplary determination to share her expertise with fellow educators and help them grow."

As a young girl, Caine's favorite game was to play teacher to a roomful of family members. When she reached college, her studies in clinical psychology sparked an interest in education that has fueled Caine's 34-year career.

Caine believes each as​signment presents a new opportunity for her students to apply their knowledge to an issue in their daily lives and make a difference. Her second graders have collected pennies for leukemia to learn math, and they wrote a letter to the principal with suggestions about playground equipment to sharpen their persuasive writing skills.

Caine's commitment to advance the teaching profession has led her to various leadership roles, including as mentor for the University of Hawaii teacher development program. She has also shared her expertise locally and abroad at conferences in Japan, Singapore and Spain.

"Her classroom is powerfully motivating academically as well as a deeply caring, moral community," said Thomas E. Jackson, director of the Uehiro Academy for Philosophy and Ethics in Education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Caine earned a bachelor's degree in Child Development from San Diego State University, and a Teacher Education Diploma and a masters degree in Curriculum Studies focused in pre-kindergarten to third grade from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

She has taught at Waikiki Elementary for 23 years, and previously worked at Iroquois Point and Kaewai elementary schools.

Caine has helped lead implementation of the Hawaii Common Core standards, and made recommendations on the Educator Effectiveness System. She has presented in prestigious conferences on topics such as Philosophy for Children and English language learners.

Caine will represent Hawaii in the National Teacher of the Year Program. Each April, the national winner is announced by the president of the United States. Today's Teacher of the Year ceremony included:

  • ​A $500 award to each candidate by The Polynesian Cultural Center, the Teacher of the Year program's corporate sponsor for 29 years, and an additional $1,000 to the State Teacher of the Year;
  • A presentation of instructional software from SMART Technologies to each District Teacher of the Year, and other classroom technology to the State Teacher of the Year, and
  • A one-year lease of a new car courtesy of the Hawaii Automobile Dealers' Association to the winner.

In addition to Caine, Hawaii's District Teachers of the Year honored today are:

Richard Arase​ (Maui District, Maui Waena Intermediate),
Elizabeth Frilles (Windward District, Olomana School),
David Huitt (Hawaii District, Kealakehe High),
Marly Madayag (Kauai, Kalaheo Elementary),
Jamie Takamura (Central District, Red Hill Elementary), and
Masaru Uchino​ (Leeward District, Momilani Elementary).​

The Hawaii State Department of Education is among the largest U.S. school districts and the only statewide educational system in the country. It is comprised of 289 schools and serves more than 180,000 students. 

​2015 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year Program​

Find out what makes each of our seven District Teachers of the Year excellent educators.

Contact Information

Donalyn Dela Cruz

Phone: 808-586-3232


How do I...?


View all FAQ's