Alaiasa – the first-ever middle school principal from Hawaii to enter the finalist round – has won a $1,500 grant to be used for improved learning at her Kaneohe school. The national award winner will receive an additional $3,500 grant from program administrators MetLife and NASSP.
For the July 25 competition, NASSP will fly Alaiasa to Washington, D.C., where she will face a panel of judges during a one-hour interview and do a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation. Her two competitors are from California and Mississippi. The winner will be announced in September.
Alaiasa was selected for her significant contributions to student achievement. After four years as King’s principal, she led the school out of restructuring – the harshest sanction under the No Child Left Behind Law – elevating it to statewide recognition as a Strive HI Award recipient and one of only seven schools in Hawaii to close the achievement gap.
She reversed King’s reputation for poor academics and disorder, meaningfully engaged parents and created a personalized learning environment for each child. Two of her main focus areas were on Hawaiian students and special education students.
“It was a joint effort and it’s an incredible honor,” Alaiasa said. “We’ve always strived to provide the best learning opportunities and then extend them into the homes of our 600 students for valuable, much-needed family support. I am truly humbled.”