HONOLULU – Kaiser High teacher Paul Balazs understands that educators must be leaders, supporters and organizers to help students to become community-minded individuals.
Balazs, who teaches Leadership, English Language-Arts and International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge courses in grades 10 through 12, was honored with the prestigious Teacher of Promise Award from the National Milken Educators of Hawaii. The award annually recognizes a teacher who demonstrates excellence in the field and the highest qualities of a professional educator during the first four semesters in the classroom. Established in 2007, the award alternates annually between elementary and secondary teachers.
Surrounded by students and fellow teachers at a school-wide assembly, Balazs was presented a certificate and a $100 award for professional development by Mr. Cary Miyashiro on behalf of the Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union. Balazs also received a $100 award from Dr. Paul Spears, President of the Friends of Kaiser High PTSA.
Balazs has shown a true connection to students' concerns and has taken the initiative to guide them and create genuine learning experiences. His accomplishments in his first two school years have included advising students in a campus-wide anti-bullying campaign, supporting students in the Save Ka Iwi Coast grassroots campaign and organizing an Earth Day Fair with student organizations, community groups, elected officials and government agencies.
"It's a pretty special moment, also for the students I've been working with all year," said Balazs. "We try to do a lot for the community… and so I think the award reflects more the environment and sense of feeling and progress connected to their work."
"Mr. Balazs is well liked and respected by his students and his reputation earned in a very short time had students hoping that they would have him as their teacher," said Kaiser High Principal Justin Mew. "Students sense that he is centered on their best interests and makes personal connections."
A Hawaii Kai native, Balazs began teaching at Kaiser High in January 2014. He performed his student teaching at Kaiser High in 2009 to 2010 before earning a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He also previously taught as a special education teacher at Washington Middle School.
About the Hawaii State Department of Education
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 256 schools and 34 charter schools, and serves more than 180,000 students. King Kamehameha III established Hawaii's public school system in 1840.