Ho‘oha‘aheo Newsletter, Sept. 20


Our weekly online publication to highlight bright spots from across the public school system. This week's issue features two Hawai‘i Blue Ribbon Schools, Complex Area Teacher of the Year Finalists and Hawai‘i State PAEMST Finalists.

Sept. 20

Editorial Mission: As the Department's primary publication, we aim to live up to the meaning of ha‘aheo – to cherish with pride – by bolstering and sustaining pride in public education and touting the successes happening across our system.

Aloha, HIDOE Community,

National Blue Ribbon Schools
Congratulations to Kaʻelepulu and Maunawili Elementary for being named 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education! The award – a designation only the top 1% of schools nationwide achieve – recognizes their high academic achievement, including exceeding state proficiency scores by double digits. The schools were among 353 school winners nationwide announced Tuesday by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

Complex Area Teacher of the Year Finalists
The Department named 15 outstanding complex area teachers of the year and one charter school teacher of the year as finalists for the 2024 Hawai‘i State Teacher of the Year recognition – our top award for teachers. The state winner will be announced at a ceremony at Washington Place in October and will go on to represent Hawai‘i in the National Teacher of the Year program. See the list of the honored finalists here.

Hawai‘i State PAEMST finalists
The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are the highest honors bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics teaching. Congratulations to our three Hawai‘i state finalists for science: Kealakehe High’s Justin Brown, Hilo Intermediate’s Cynthia Fong and Pearl City High’s Karleen Lynch; and our two Hawai‘i state finalists for mathematics: Prince David Kawānanakoa Middle’s Marcella Clark and ‘Ilima Intermediate’s Sarah Milianta-Laffin! These awardees reflect the expertise and dedication of the nation’s teaching corps and demonstrate the positive impact of excellent teachers on student achievement.


Social media highlights of schools and staff in their efforts to help, support and bolster the West Maui school community. Use the #HIPublicSchoolsProud hashtag for a chance to be featured!

Maui High

» Congratulations to Reid Yamamoto for being selected by the administration as September’s Classified Staff of the Month. He exemplified Saber Pride by being the first volunteer at our shelter last month and spent countless hours supporting our community during this tough time. Thank you Reid for your support and dedication to Maui High School and our community.

Leilehua High

» In support of the crisis happening on Maui, the Leilehua M.D. club will be hosting a donation drive on Friday, September 22 from 3-4 p.m. As the Wahiawa community, join us in the contribution efforts to rebuild the Lāhainā community by donating the listed basic necessities and emergency relief supplies. Mahalo for your kōkua and generosity.

‘Āina Haina Elementary

» Wow! We managed to collect so many brand new books for kids on Maui! They’re packed and ready to go! Thanks for all of your donations and for creating beautiful bookmarks too! We are no longer accepting donations, but please continue to give to other organizations who directly support the people of Lāhainā

Family Focus

A monthly column by Parents for Public Schools Hawai‘i, a nonprofit organization of parents, family members, educators, community leaders, policymakers, and others; working to improve and support public education in Hawai‘i by increasing family and community engagement. Visit www.ppshi.org to join our hui supporting our keiki’s schools and learning.

The devastating Maui wildfires have stolen so much from those directly affected, and the pain is felt throughout Hawai‘i nei. Research shows that many suffer adverse childhood experiences that may hamper growth and happiness. Here are some ways to comfort our keiki and ourselves in this time of heightened trauma:

  • Create a feeling of safety
  • Think about words and tone to comfort not alarm
  • Continue or recreate family activities for a feeling of normalcy
  • Encourage children to find and share feelings
  • Read stories, especially at bedtime
  • Give hugs throughout the day
  • Limit news reports
  • Make art and music together

Please reach out and contact us at info@ppshi.org to share your needs and stories.

West Maui Updates

Superintendent’s Report to the Board

The upcoming September Hawai‘i State Board of Education General Business Meeting will include a Report of the Superintendent on the Maui wildfire impacts. This report includes updates on how the Department is supporting staff and students, Lāhainā complex school reopening plans and preparations, as well as student options in advance of reopening with bus transportation to in-person learning options and West Maui distance learning hubs.

UH offers full scholarships to Lāhaināluna High Class of 2024

The University of Hawai‘i (UH) is offering full scholarships to every Lāhaināluna High senior that will cover tuition, fees, books and supplies for full-time and part-time students at any of UH’s 10 campuses. This initial commitment to the Lāhaināluna Class of 2024 is for one academic year while UH seeks external or internal funding to extend these scholarships. Read UH’s full release for more information. Mahalo to UH and its generous donors for providing this fantastic opportunity for our impacted students!

HIDOE distance learning hub opens in West Maui with over 250 K-8 students

The Department welcomed more than 250 students from King Kamehameha III Elementary, Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary and Lāhainā Intermediate on opening day of the West Maui distance learning hub yesterday. Located at Citizen Church in Kahana, the hub provides students enrolled in distance learning with in-person opportunities for teacher support and peer socialization, as well as access to balanced snacks, social-emotional learning, counseling and other resources.

Important Dates and Upcoming Events

HIDOE Headlines

A roundup of announcements, resources and shoutouts.

» After the devastating Lāhainā wildfires, the Mililani Mauka Elementary student council officers organized a coin drive to help families impacted. Students donated coins (and bills) and presented a check for $4533.63 to Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) in hopes of sending our aloha and providing a little relief to the Lāhainā community. Student council officers are pictured with Principal Kyle Shimabukuro and HCF Donor Relations Officer Ana Malu-Lainaholo.

» Waikele Elementary recently held its 6th annual Career & College Fair. Students from preschool to sixth grade visited with dozens of local professionals in various career fields in the engineering, law enforcement, hospitality industries and more. Waikele Elementary is the first elementary school in the state to fully implement an Academy Pathway program integrating career and technical education into its school design.

» An estimated 500 Lāhaināluna High students reported Sept. 14 to their temporary school site at Kūlanihākoʻi High for their first day of in-person instruction as a school. Lāhaināluna students were welcomed by Kūlanihāko‘i students and staff cheering and waving signs at the drop-off area on campus. The school day ended with Lāhaināluna students uniting as one group to sing their alma mater. See our video and read the full release.


Keith Hayashi


Heidi Armstrong

Deputy Superintendent

Curt Otaguro

Deputy Superintendent

Tammi Oyadomari-Chun
Deputy Superintendent


Sean Bacon
Talent Management
Brian Hallett
Fiscal Services
Annie Kalama
Student Support Services

Michael Otsuji

Information Technology Services
Randall Tanaka
Facilities and Operations

Cara Tanimura

Strategy, Innovation and Performance

Teri Ushijima

Curriculum and Instructional Design



Nanea Kalani

Executive Editor

Chanel Honda

Managing Editor

Sara Miyazono
Creative Director

Derek Inoshita

Contributing Writer

Krislyn Yano

Contributing Writer



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Email: newsletter@k12.hi.us

Contact Information

Communications Branch

Phone: (808) 784-6200

Email: doeinfo@k12.hi.us


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The Department's primary publication featuring successes across our public schools.

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