HONOLULU – Waipahu High's Keith Hayashi and Mililani Middle's Elynne Chung today were recognized as Hawaii's 2015 Principals of the Year for leading their campuses toward academic excellence.
The Hawaii Association of Secondary School Administrators (HASSA) honored Hayashi and Chung during an awards banquet at the Hale Koa hotel.
Also honored was Kaneohe Elementary's Jacque Shaner as Hawaii's Elementary School Assistant Principal of the Year.
The national program recognizes outstanding secondary school leaders who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for students and exemplary contributions to their profession.
Winners are selected based on excellence in the areas of professional growth, collaborative leadership, advancements in curriculum, instruction and assessment, and personalization of learning.
Hayashi has brought a laser-like focus on college and career readiness to Waipahu High since becoming principal in 2009. Today, the state's second-largest high school offers nearly 2,500 students a broad array of career pathways and academies ranging from finance to information technology and culinary arts.
About 70 percent of Waipahu High students are of Filipino ancestry, and nearly 6 out of 10 come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Reading proficiency among tenth graders rose to 69 percent in 2013 from 58 percent in 2011, while math proficiency jumped to 47 percent from 26 percent. College-going rate increased to 58 percent from 49 percent during the same period.
The campus recently hosted U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who ate lunch in the student-run café and toured an expansive aquaponics system. After his March visit to check on the state's Race to the Top education progress, Duncan praised Hawaii's public school system as a potential model for the nation.
"Our successes at Waipahu High are a result of the collaborative efforts among our caring and committed faculty and staff; motivated students; supportive industry, community, and post-secondary partners; coordinated efforts between the Waipahu Complex Schools, and; dialogue within the Hawaii Academies Schools," said Hayashi. "Our career pathway academies, combined with Early College make it an exciting time at Waipahu High."
Chung's transformation of Mililani Middle – the state's largest middle school with 1,743 students – has been equally impressive.
Despite facing unique challenges as one of just four year-round multi-track schools in Hawaii, Mililani Middle has flourished since Chung took the helm in 2010.
Math proficiency rose to 68 percent in 2013 from 59 percent in 2010, the year Chung arrived. The school's reading and science proficiency of 85 percent and 51 percent, respectively, beat the state's average by double-digit margins.
Mililani Middle prides itself for providing a vibrant and comprehensive selection of extracurricular activities, which have been instrumental in improving attendance, academics and leadership, while keeping students engaged in healthy and productive programs. The school recently earned a $45,000 grant from the Resources for Enrichment, Athletics, Culture and Health (R.E.A.C.H.) to support some 28 afterschool programs such as modern art, music and advanced technology.
In June 2012, Mililani Middle secured a six-year accreditation term from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Accreditation members noted the school's rigor, co-curricular offerings and leadership quality "culminated in an impressive continuous improvement focus for student achievement."
"This award is a reflection of the wonderful things that are happening at Mililani Middle School and public education in general," said Chung. "The selection is a credit to the entire school community's effort to making Mililani Middle a great place to learn for our students."
Hayashi and Chung will represent Hawaii at the National Association of Secondary School Principals Institute in September in Washington, D.C. The event serves as a forum for principals to share best practices and meet with national education leaders and legislators.
Jacque Shaner, Elementary School Assistant Principal of the Year, has served at Kaneohe Elementary for four years. Her exemplary qualities include her abilities to support teachers and lead major initiatives. Last year, the Castle Complex vice principal extensively mentored a beginning teacher, who struggled to manage her students in the special-education setting. With her help, the teacher successfully developed a productive classroom setting.
The educator also leads her Windward District school in helping teachers understand and develop Student Learning Objectives, which are part of the Department of Education’s new Effective Educator System. Shaner has headed training sessions and continuously guides teachers.
“My mission is to serve the students and community,” Shaner said. “My job is to remove barriers, no matter how big or small, so that children can learn. This recognition is about the sum total of the faculty and staff’s high caliber, expertise, dedication to our students and passion for learning. My work is a blessing because I can serve the teachers who’ve helped raise my own children.”
Shaner’s children attended Kaneohe Elementary, King Intermediate and Castle High, and her granddaughter is a student at Kaneohe Elementary.