House of Representatives Honors Hawaii School Leaders During Annual Education Week at the Legislature

As part of week-long activities during its annual Education Week at the Legislature, the State House of Representatives honored school leaders for their dedication to their students and profession.  Several resolutions and public presentations were sponsored by House Education Committee Chair, Rep. Roy Takumi (D, Pearl City-Manana-Waipio) and Vice Chair Rep. Takashi Ohno (D, Liliha-Puunui-Alewa Heights-Nuuanu).

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“The individuals before us today have devoted their lives to the children of Hawaii through their tenacious efforts to provide them with better skills to take on the future,” said Takumi in an introduction of honorees, “They bring dedication and passion to their profession everyday and deserve to be commended for their efforts.”

Ohno, himself a former elementary school teacher added, “These teachers, principals, librarians and the schools they represent have proven themselves worthy of celebration as paragons of educational excellence and achievements.”

The Honorees 

  • Karen Kutsunai, 2013 Teacher of the Year, is a social studies teacher at Kailua Intermediate School. She brings an innovative, student-based inquiry approach to secondary education, setting high expectations that have yielded exceptional results. Her genuine care for students extends to the entire school community through her establishment of monthly Ohana club socials for faculty to discuss issues and improve relationships.
  • Marcus Pottenger, a social studies teacher at Hokulani Elementary School, is the 2013 Honolulu District Teacher of the Year.
  • Tracie Higashi, an art teacher at Hickam Elementary School, is the 2013 Central District Teacher of the Year.
  • Victoria Coffin, a teacher at Keoneula Elementary School is the 2013 Leeward District Teacher of the Year.
  • Amoreena Nestman, an English teacher at Kealakehe Elementary School, is the 2013 Hawaii District Teacher of the Year.
  • Aaron Locque, a social studies teacher at Maui Waena Intermediate School, is the 2013 Maui District Teacher of the Year.
  • Paul Holwegner, a science teacher at Chieftess Kamakahelei Middle School, is the 2013 Kauai District Teacher of the Year.
  • Julia Segawa a science teacher at R.L. Stevenson Middle School, and Charles Souza Jr., a former teacher at Stevenson Middle School are recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

School administrators and librarians were also recognized for their outstanding accomplishments:

  • Debra Lindsey, currently the principal of Kauai High School, was the recipient of the 2012 Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award as the principal of Koloa Elementary School for her leadership, hard work and vision in transforming Koloa Elementary School into a model learning institution.
  • Randiann Porras-Tang, the principal at Waialua High and Intermediate School, is the 2012 National Association of Secondary School Principals Hawaii High School Principal of the Year.
  • Frank Fernandes, the principal at Kaimuki Middle School has been selected as the 2012 National Association of Secondary School Principals Hawaii Middle School Principal of the Year.
  • Kenneth Lee, the principal at Nimitz Elementary School, has been named Hawaii’s 2012 National Distinguished Principal.
  • Stacey Makanoe Kawasaki was named Hawaii’s 2012 Outstanding Assistant Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.
  • Patrick McNally, a librarian at the Hawaii State Library, is the recipient of Hawaii’s 2012 Librarian of the Year Award.
  • Berry Andelin, the Circulation Department Support Staff Supervisor at the Manoa Public Library, is the recipient of Hawaii’s 2012 Excellence in Service Award.

Three elementary schools have been designated as 2012-2013 Blue Ribbon Schools in the State of Hawaii thereby earning nominations at the national level. They are:

  • Nuuanu Elementary School
  • Blanche Pope Elementary School
  • Waikiki Elementary School

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