Matthew Lawrence named Hawaii's 2014 State Teacher of the Year


Hawaii's 2014 State Teacher of the Year is a 12-year veteran educator who inspires his students through creative hands-on projects. Honolulu District Teacher of the Year Matthew Lawrence of Waikiki Elementary was named the 2014 State Teacher of the Year this afternoon at a ceremony attended by Governor Neil Abercrombie and Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi at Washington Place.


The state's top teaching award is presented annually to a classroom teacher selected from more than 11,000 educators within the Hawaii State Department of Education. Lawrence was among seven District Teachers of the Year recognized today.

"Congratulations to 2014 Teacher of the Year Matthew Lawrence and our District Teachers of the Year for leading by example and making a positive difference in our schools," said Gov. Abercrombie. "Matthew's innovative teaching style is helping to prepare our students to compete in today's global marketplace."

"Excellence and success are natural outcomes when you combine Matthew's creativity and genuine care for students with his unwavering commitment to always improve," said Superintendent Matayoshi. "We are truly fortunate to have him in our school system, and thankful for his dedication to students and contributions to the teaching profession."

"We can all remember the one educator who left a lasting impact on us. When students from Kauai to Hawaii Island think of that one person, many will credit these seven exceptional teachers for opening doors and helping make dreams a reality," continued Matayoshi.

At Waikiki Elementary, it is easy to spot Lawrence's students, as they can be seen building climbing walls, solar powered go-carts and model homes, or a tennis ball launcher.

When a power outage occurred at the school in the 2009-10 school year, the lights stayed on in Lawrence's classroom, thanks to a student-built bicycle generator that powered six bulbs.

In 2007, Lawrence launched a science fair to provide students a venue to share their experiments and creations with their peers and families.

Waikiki Elementary Principal Bonnie Tabor noted, "Lawrence's openness to reform, his drive, his passion are contagious."

A National Board Certified Teacher, Lawrence earned a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education with Middle School Endorsement from Illinois State University, and a master's degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

He has taught math and science at Waikiki Elementary since 2001, and served as the School Community Council chairman from 2006 to 2011. Lawrence also is a mentor teacher with the University of Hawaii undergraduate teaching program.

Lawrence will represent Hawaii in the National Teacher of the Year Program in the spring. 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 28 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 State Teacher of the Year.

In addition to Lawrence, Hawaii's District Teachers of the Year are:

Teresa Cramer, Central Oahu District, Hale Kula Elementary

Dayna Hironaka, Windward Oahu District, Kahaluu Elementary 

Elizabeth Timbal, Hawaii District, Keaau High

Terra Wight, Leeward Oahu District, Nanakuli High and Intermediate

Anthony Williams, Maui District, Paia Elementary

Justin Yamagata, Kauai District, Waimea Canyon Middle  

Learn about the success of these outstanding teachers by reading our award program​.

The Hawaii State Department of Education is the ninth largest U.S. school district and the only statewide educational system in the country. It is comprised of 288 schools and serves more than 185,000 students.

Contact Information

Donalyn Dela Cruz

Phone: 808-586-3230


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