As I've expanded my visits with schools, I have been truly impressed with the quality of teaching I’ve seen and the effective practices in the classroom that engage and inspire our students.
I was thrilled to celebrate some of our teaching exemplars recently at the ceremony honoring this year’s cohort of Teachers of the Year, state and district — they are creative, energetic and master educators whose impacts are felt individually and broadly.
Kaua‘i’s Amanda Fretto cultivates inclusion of special needs students with the Special Olympics and United Sound programs. She has “the heart of a lion,” a colleague noted.
To ensure more students have highly effective teachers, Francine Hughes uses her 20 years of teaching experience on Maui in crafting professional development that resonates with colleagues thanks to her reflective, solutions-oriented and collaborative style.
The importance of leading by example led longtime Central District educator Gregg Iha to create the “Six Pillars of Character” program for both keiki and adults that’s still in use today.
Students learn best when they feel engaged, feel they belong, and have opportunities — that’s Erika Kaneo’s creed and she’s making that happen in the Hilo-Waiakea Complex Area.
Del Onaga’s leadership of Olomana School’s Engineering Academy makes learning relevant for at-risk youths — their “whys” are being answered.
A parent described SEEQS teacher Cristin Priolo as “a milestone person,” someone unforgettable. She’s changing lives by connecting learning to real-world problems.
Naomi Salaveria’s passion is to help students with multiple disabilities at Liholiho El learn to their full potential, and she continues her work as a Shriners Hospital volunteer.
And congratulations to State Teacher of the Year Vanessa Ching of Ewa Makai Middle, who has initiated and implemented programs — green recycling, bike safety, anti-bullying — that inspire students to elevate themselves and their community. She will represent Hawai‘i in the National Teacher of the Year Program and be honored in Washington D.C. in the spring.
We are the Hawai‘i State Department of Education — we impact students, families and communities!
Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto