2015 Year in Review


There is much work to be done, but there is much to celebrate now! Here’s a rundown of impressive achievements in 2015 by our schools, educators and keiki.

​​ Click image to view full size poste​r.


2015 was a busy year, as we continued to focus on maintaining the positive momentum and deepening the quality of our implementation of the Department’s 2011-18 Strategic Plan. That effort to "stay the course" and for "every one to be a leader and a learner,” both themes of our last two Educational Leadership Institutes, has resulted in extraordinary accomplishments and recognition.​​

The year ended on a high note with our achievements taking center stage in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 2015 Leaders & Laggards report series. Hawaii, along with Maryland and Washington DC, was featured for the great strides made over a decade on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report, a test given nationwide to a group of fourth and eighth graders in math and reading every two years. The efforts of our staff, teachers, students, leaders and the community, working together, made this possible.  Mahalo to all for your effort.

Change takes time, and I believe we will continue to see more growth in 2016.

It will take us working together as an ‘ohana, not only our staff but also the general public, to develop competencies in all of our students that strengthen a sense of Belonging, Responsibility, Excellence, Aloha, Total-well-being and Hawai‘i (BREATH).

We look forward to incorporating Nā Hopena A'o and BREATH as a way to further our mission of ensuring that all students reach their full potential from early learning through college, career and citizenship. This means making strides to close the achievement gap; establishing and fostering relationships with our community and business, including the groundbreaking work with Mālama Honua, the world wide voyage; and seeking more ways that we can support our schools in tapping the power and creativity of our school communities.

On behalf of the Department, thank you for your continued support of Hawaii’s public schools. Please enjoy the recap of the amazing 2015 accomplishments of our schools, teachers and students.

Best wishes to all for a healthy and happy new year!


Kathryn Matayoshi​



Waikiki Elementary teacher Catherine Caine is named one of four finalists for the 2015 National Teacher of the Year Award, one of the country's most prestigious education honors. Caine, who teaches a multiple subject curriculum for second grade students, was recognized in 2014 as the Hawaii State Teacher of the Year. She has taught at Waikiki since 1992, helping to create a "Mindful School" and focuses on critical thinking, project-based learning, Philosophy for Children, and the Habits of Mind.


After spending two years to create a strategic path forward for Hawaiian Education, the Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) shares how it is strengthening its commitment to Hawaiian programs in the public school system. Policy 2104 was changed to incorporate the establishment of the Office of Hawaiian Education to support Hawaiian education's positive impacts. Policy 2105 provides students with Hawaiian bicultural and bilingual education; and the development and administration of the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program (Ka Papahana Kaiapuni) curriculum, standards, and formative and summative assessments. 

Mililani Uka’s Jan Fukuda is announced as the winner of the $25K Milken Award. The elementary school teacher was surprised with the “Oscar of Teaching” prize for her commitment to the profession and efforts to ensure all students receive a top education. As a kindergarten teacher, Fukada co-taught an inclusion class and developed plans and assessments for the Hawaii Common Core Standards – new learning goals to ensure students graduate ready for college and careers. Colleagues point to Fukada's ability to weave the curriculum together to create and teach interdisciplinary lessons.


The latest United States Department of Education (USDOE) monitoring report confirms Hawaii has made significant progress as a result of its systemic reforms. HIDOE's Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Flexibility Monitoring Report​ scored across the board ratings of "meets expectations." Beginning School Year 2013-14, the Department was granted its ESEA flexibility waiver, which resulted in Hawaii’s new school accountability and improvement system, the Strive HI Performance System. Strive HI replaced many outdated requirements of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law with meaningful benchmarks aligned with the goals of the Department and Hawaii State Board of Education Strategic Plan.

Hawaii's public high school students have shown that the transformative, system wide changes undertaken by HIDOE in the implementation of its 2011-18 Strategic Plan are paying off. The CCRI report released today by Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education shows Hawaii's students have made steady, and in some cases, significant improvements in key indicators of college and career readiness, including Hawaii State Assessment reading and mathematics scores, college enrollment and early credit attainment. The CCRI report provides a detailed look at the accomplishments of Class of 2014 students in high schools statewide and provides a measurement of their readiness for college and career. 


HIDOE and DOH release findings from the Safety and Wellness Survey (SAWS) for all Hawaii public (non-charter) schools, which showed a consistently high level of achievement with all survey respondents meeting an average of 79 percent of HIDOE's Wellness Guidelines

Highlights of the survey results show that during the 2013-14 school year: 

  • All school meals met or exceeded U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrient standards;
  • 95 percent of schools promoted positive nutritional messages on campus;
  • 93 percent of schools integrated nutrition education into multiple areas of the curriculum such as math, science, and English language arts;
  • 95 percent of schools reported having required physical education classes aligned with state standards (Hawaii Content and Performance Standards III for Physical Education); and
  • 78 percent of schools have a committee that oversees wellness at school.

The HIDOE releases its Annual Financial Audit for the 2014 fiscal year (FY 2014), which shows the Department is doing a better job at keeping its finances in order. The independent report analyzed financial statements of the public school system, including operating, capital improvement and federal funds. The Department's FY 2014 audit was submitted last month to the Federal Audit Clearinghouse, which operates on behalf of the Office of Management and Budget.


Hahaione, Kaelepulu and Palisades elementary schools are named as Hawaii’s 2015 Blue Ribbon Schools nominees, in recognition of their exceptional student achievement gains and improvement efforts. The three schools were all recognized as Exemplary High Performing schools. They have also shown improvements under HIDOE’s Strive HI Performance System, which evaluates schools on key success indicators such as student achievement and growth, readiness and progress toward closing achievement gaps.

HIDOE held a groundbreaking ceremony at President William McKinley High School to mark the first phase of the renewable energy generation portion of the Ka Hei program. McKinley High is one of nine public schools that will receive photovoltaic (PV) panels in the first phase of energy generation tied to the Ka Hei program, and will receive 480 PV modules in canopies above the parking lot for an estimated savings of about 186,000 kilowatt-hours per year to reduce the school’s electrical load by about 13 percent.


Nineteen educators participate in the Mālama Honua New Zealand Study Tour coordinated by the Pacific & Asian Affairs Council (PAAC) and HIDOE. The 10-day spring-recess tour allowed participants to meet up with the Polynesian Voyaging Society crew during the New Zealand leg of the Worldwide Voyage of the Hōkule‘ā and Hikianalia, and to build networks and relationships with New Zealand educators around issues of global and local importance.

Waianae Intermediate and Nanaikapono Elementary earns​ national praise from the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) for their efforts to raise student achievement through comprehensive counseling services. The schools were honored as an ASCA Model Program, or RAMP, the first such national designation for a Hawaii public school. They will be among 62 schools receiving the RAMP award at the June 30 ASCA's annual conference in Phoenix.


Hookele Elementary​, the state’s newest elementary school, opens to students. The 78,404-square-foot campus has seven buildings surrounding a central courtyard, including a library, cafeteria and a dedicated arts and science building, and features air-conditioned classrooms, learning gardens, flexible learning spaces, a covered play court and a wireless network throughout all buildings. The $40 million project is the first school in Hawaii constructed using a Design-Build criteria, meets the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Schools 2009 standards and includes an onsite bio-retention and native landscaping.

Kaimuki High graduate Nina Bean receives the inaugural Dorothy Ono Scholarship. Named after a beloved Kaimuki High math teacher, the Ching Family Foundation’s scholarship provides up to four years of undergraduate study to a Kaimuki High graduate who excels in math or science. Bean plans to study marine biology with a focus on environmental conservation at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.


Students return to Keonepoko Elementary​ after the school was closed during the Puna Lava Flow in October 2014, forcing the relocation of students and staff to alternate schools and a temporary campus of portables known as “Keonepoko North.” When the lava threat subsided in the spring of 2015, HIDOE announced that the school would be reopened for the upcoming school year. “It’s like being back at home,” said Principal Kasey Eisenhour, “the kids, the families, the staff – everyone’s really happy to be back.”

Celebrity artists Alfre Woodard, Jack Johnson and Jake Shimabukuro launch Turnaround Arts Hawaii. Each artist will work with students at Kalihi Kai Elementary, Kamaile Academy and Waianae Elementary through 2017 to provide a variety of arts in schools to help motivate and open new possibilities for our keiki. On average, Turnaround Arts schools showed a 23 percent improvement in math proficiency and a 13 percent increase in reading proficiency over three years, as well as showing reductions of up to 86 percent in student disciplinary issues and sharply increased attendance.


Pearl Ridge Elementary’s Andrew Lagapa​ is named HIDOE’s 2015 Employee of the Year for his tireless work ethic and devotion to students. Lagapa has served as a school custodian for 16 years and was praised for his initiative in recognizing and correcting maintenance issues before they became significant problems. Kailua Inter’s Science & Engineering Dept. is named Team of the Year for their systematic and coordinated teaching approach. Across all 7th and 8th grade science classes, the team uses a uniform regimen that stresses information management, note taking and the use of interactive notebooks to teach students to be organized and effective in both learning and time management skills.  

McKinley High celebrates 150 years of Tiger pride and tradition in Homecoming Week festivities with generations of students, families, alumni, faculty and staff. McKinley High School was officially established in 1865, as the Fort Street English Day School by Maurice B. Beckwith. McKinley High School is proud to be listed on both State and National Registers of Historical Places.


91 public schools participate in the inaugural Great Hawaii Shakeout Earthquake Drill to teach students the proper, life-saving technique of “Drop, Cover and Hold On.” Due to the unpredictable nature of earthquakes, it is important that students and school staff understand the proper technique and be ready to react in a safe and timely manner, especially in a school setting.

Kapunahala Elementary teacher Stephanie Mew is named Hawaii's 2016 State Teacher of the Year, receiving the state's top teaching award. “Stephanie helps her students to become good, well-balanced individuals by placing emphasis on the importance of character development, in addition to rigorous learning,” said Deputy Superintendent Stephen Schatz. “Her dedicated service extends into the community as she makes presentations to teachers, parents and the public stressing the importance of education for our children.” Mew was selected from seven District Teachers of the Year and represents more than 11,000 educators in HIDOE statewide.


Ewa Makai Middle is one of 41 schools selected by Noodle, a comprehensive education website, for its inaugural "Innovative Schools" list. Ewa Makai’s unique Tech P.E. program blends Phys. Ed. with digital devices and allows students and teachers to monitor progress on iPads using a special application developed by the school's technology department. Principal Edward Oshiro used school funds, grants and donations to launch the program, which has become popular among the students since they are able to track their development and improve at their own pace.

Farrington High School alumni and four-time Super Bowl champion Jesse Sapolu returns to his alma mater to recognize the school for its contributions to athletics and American Football. Sapolu delivered a commemorative Wilson Golden Football to Farrington Principal Al Carganilla as part of the National Football League’s (NFL) Super Bowl High School Honor Roll program. 

Kaimuki High unveils a dazzling mural entitled Ho‘o Kahewai, Ho‘oulu ‘Aina — “when the water flows, the land thrives.” More than 180 students worked on the project over four months with Mele Murals artist Estria and teacher support.


Ewa Elementary.​ receives a $10,000 award from Code.org, a non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science learning. One public school in every U.S. state and Washington D.C. receives this $10,000 award each year after pledging to host a school-wide Hour of Code. In 2014, Iao Intermediate won, and Hale Kula Elementary won in the program's inaugural year in 2013. Ewa Elementary plans to purchase more than two dozen laptop computers for students to use in its digital learning programs.

Kanoelani Elementary students, parents, staff and volunteers complete the “Legacy Project,” based on a $25,000 Locations Foundation grant. Funds went towards a new STEM lab, improvements around classrooms and a mural by famed artist Hilton Alves. As part of the Legacy Project, benches were added for teachers to use as outdoor classrooms, garden boxes were constructed for each class, storage containers were decorated with student art, and the school's map mural stage was given a fresh coat of paint.


Contact Information

Communications Branch

Phone: (808) 784-6200

Email: doeinfo@k12.hi.us


Ho‘oha‘aheo newsletter cover

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

View all Ho‘oha‘aheo Newsletters

Related Downloads