Call for Comments for New Waikoloa Public Library

The Hawaii State Public Library System, along with the Department of Accounting and General Services and Mitsunaga & Associates, Inc., is currently developing the Project Development Report (PDR) for the future Waikoloa Public Library.

The Hawaii Senate Ways and Means Committee visited the Pahoa Community Library on August 21, 2013

The Hawaii Senate Ways and Means Committee visited the Pahoa Community Library on August 21, 2013

This draft PDR has been evaluating several possible sites throughout the Waikoloa Village for the construction of a new public library servicing this community on the island of Hawaii.

Comments, concerns, and other related information are still being gathered from the general public for this PDR. Please submit any additional comments at waikoloa.library@mitsdesign.com no later than Friday, January 24, 2014.

Upon completion of the PDR, a site will be selected by the State. The next phase will include an Environmental Assessment and the Programming and Concept design for the new Library.

 

Hawaii Court Interpreters Wanted: Once a Year Opportunity

The Hawaiʻi State Judiciary Office on Equality and Access to the Courts will hold an informational session on its Court Interpreter Certification program on the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo campus. The session will be held Thursday, January 16, at 6:00 p.m. in Campus Center Room 306. The event is free and open to the public.

Court Interpreters are independent contractors and earn $25 – $55 per hour for a minimum of two hours a day. The session provides a once-a-year opportunity for individuals who speak English and a second language to take the first step toward becoming an interpreter.

All individuals must meet mandatory minimum requirements to become qualified as a state court interpreter, which include: submission of a Court Interpreter Certification Program Application Form (available online at www.courts.state.hi.us/courtinterpreting), attending a two-day Basic Orientation Workshop offered statewide in February – March 2014, passing Written English and Basic Ethics Exams, and clearing a criminal background check.

Click for more information

Click for more information

For more information, contact the Office on Equality and Access to the Courts at (808) 539-4860, email oeac@courts.hawaii.gov or visit www.courts.state.hi.us/services/court_interpreting/court_interpreting.html

DLNR Firefighters Respond to Wildfire in Puu Waawaa Forest Reserve – Lightning Believed to Start Fire

Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) firefighters today continued their response to an estimated 150 acre brushfire which was first reported last night just after 6 p.m. An initial crew of five DLNR personnel and a bulldozer responded to the fire Sunday evening, along with Hawaii County Fire Department.

Puu Waawaa Forest Reserve

Puu Waawaa Forest Reserve

Today, there were 17 Division of Forestry and Wildlife personnel who returned to the scene at 5 a.m., near upper Mamalahoa Highway, along with one brush truck, three engines, two water tenders, and two bulldozers. Crews worked to build a fire line around the perimeter of the fire.

Winds were light, and there was no rain. The fire is located in a remote area of Puu Waawaa forest reserve and is thought to have been started by lightning from recent storm activity.

A total of 22 personnel will be working to continue mop-up activity tomorrow.  Fire is fully contained this evening

New ‘Hawaiian Fish N Chips’ at Queens’ MarketPlace

“Simplicity is the key,” said restaurant owner-operator Ted Debsky of his new Hawaiian Fish N Chips eatery in the Queens’ MarketPlace Food Court. A little venue with big variety, Hawaiian Fish N Chips features fresh local fish, grilled, smoked, or seared for salads, fried up for sandwiches or served with select noodle dishes.

Fresh local salad with grilled fish and salsa from the new Hawaiian Fish N Chips at Queens' MarketPlace

Fresh local salad with grilled fish and salsa from the new Hawaiian Fish N Chips at Queens’ MarketPlace

“We like to think of it as a “fresh seafood bistro,” said Debsky. Originally from Poland, Debsky has been an island restaurateur for years, formerly running the popular Kings’ Court Pizza & Grill and Senor Nachos Mexican Restaurant at the Kings’ Shops. With HFC, he hopes to share not only familiar fare like fish and chips, but unique local specialties, such as oxtail udon soup, made with fresh oxtail from Honokaa, and broiled eel with a Japanese eel sauce.

Debsky said that HFC smokes fresh local fish in-house and every day’s menu may feature different flavors. Homemade sauces, the chef’s specialty, will include chipotle aioli mayonnaise, featured on their calamari salad, a wasabi-garlic mayonnaise for the grilled fish sandwich and tartar sauce with fresh pickles, onion and capers. And, to enhance the ocean bounty, Big Island vegetables and fresh baked breads and buns from Mamane Bakery round out the flavorful menu.

HFC is open 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily in Queens’ MarketPlace food court. For more information, call (808) 886-1595.

New Home for College of Hawaiian Language Officially Opens – Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language

Cultural tradition and modern architectural design were on display today at the bilingual blessing and official grand opening of Hale`ōlelo, the new home of the University of Hawai` at Hilo’s Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.

Hawaiian Language College

The ceremony featured a formal `Oki Piko ceremony, which symbolized the cutting of the umbilical cord to separate the new building from its birth mother to begin its life. Representatives of Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani’s consortium of `Aha Pūnana Leo, `Imiloa Astronomy Center, and Nāwahīokalani`ōpu`u School offered tributes in Hawaiian and presented their heahea, or calls of welcome.

The formal program also included remarks from dignitaries, including representatives from the University, UH System and elected officials, mixed in with hula and musical performances. Festivities concluded with gifts and congratulatory presentations and guided tours of the facility.

“The faculty and staff of Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani has worked long and hard to establish the College as a leader in indigenous language and cultural revitalization,” said Chancellor Don Straney. “At long last, they have a permanent home in a facility that is worthy of the quality programs that have earned them international recognition.”

The $21 million complex on Nowelo Street in the University Park of Science and Technology was designed by WCIT Architects of Honolulu, led by Rob Iopa, a graduate of Waiākea High School. The structure was built by Jacobson Construction of Salt Lake City, Utah. Key features include spectacular landscape, mountain and ocean views and designs that reflect native Hawaiian culture and Hawaiʻi Island’s natural resources that tie together the naming of the College and the building where it resides.

“The high roof design was inspired by the pili grass thatched home of Princess Ruth Ke`elikōlani, for whom the building of the College is named,” explained Dr. Larry Kimura, assistant professor, Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani. “Her home, on the grounds of Hulihe`e Palace in Kailua-Kona, was known as Hale`ōlelo, or House of Language, which now becomes the home for the College of Hawaiian Language.”

In addition to being a cultural and architectural landmark, the two-story complex is also a highly functional facility, spanning 36,760 square feet. Among its key features is a Performing Arts Auditorium that can be sub-divided. Special-use rooms include a library, curriculum and media resource room, tutorial, archive and telecom conference rooms, a computer lab, student and faculty meeting rooms, and 30 offices.

More importantly, Hale`ōlelo consolidates most of the College’s programs and operations formerly scattered throughout the campus while providing needed infrastructure to address the needs brought about by its growth and development. Since achieving collegiate status in 1997, it has experienced a surge in enrollment while introducing new degrees that produced UH Hilo’s first Master’s and Ph.D. recipients.

“It’s been a long time coming, but the wait has been worth it,” noted Keiki Kawai`ae`a, director, Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani “This facility addresses many of our growing pains, and will enable expansion of our graduate and undergraduate programs in increasingly impactful ways for our State. We want to thank everyone throughout the community who supported this initiative and made it a reality.”

The College will be looking to build on its existing body of work that has earned it critical acclaim from indigenous people who look to its programs as potential models for language revitalization in their communities. Just last November, it received the 2013 William Demmert Cultural Freedom Award from the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) for its work in P-20 Hawaiian language revitalization and its positive impact on native student academic achievement.

Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani and Hale`ōlelo will be front and center on the international stage only days after the grand opening when the College hosts the 2014 Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium (SILS) in mid-January. The agenda includes visits to language immersion programs from preschool to the doctorate level and post-visitation discussion groups, with special focus on issues such as government testing, developing curricula and parental involvement.

“Events like SILS provide the College a great opportunity to raise its international profile by bringing important players from around the world to UH Hilo to discuss both the challenges that exist and the successes we’ve had in revitalizing indigenous language,” said Hiapo Perreira, associate professor, Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani. “With Hale`ōlelo, we now have an ideal venue to showcase our programs and further advance the position of Hilo as ‘an international go-to destination’ for indigenous language revitalization.”

Hawaii Target Customers Urged to Get Free Credit Monitoring in Wake of Data Breach

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) today urged all Hawaii residents who shop at Target stores to take advantage of one year of free credit monitoring being offered by the retail company in the wake of the massive data breach announced last month.

“The Office of Consumer Protection strongly recommends that all Target customers, regardless of whether they’ve identified suspicious activity in their personal accounts, take advantage of this offer,” OCP Executive Director Bruce Kim said. “Additionally, consumers who have not done so already should take the proactive steps of changing their PIN numbers and passwords. The Office of Consumer Protection is continuing to monitor the situation to ensure that consumers receive all the protections they deserve in the wake of this serious nationwide data breach.”

Last month, Target first reported a data breach involving the payment card information of 40 million customers had been obtained by hackers during November and December 2013. The stolen information included credit and debit card data, customer names and PIN (personal identification data) numbers. Last week, Target revealed that hackers also stole a second batch of data that included names, mailing addresses, phone numbers or email addresses for up to 70 million people.

Target Fraud

Target is offering one year of free credit monitoring to all Target customers. Beginning today, consumers can register for free credit monitoring at creditmonitoring.target.com. Target’s website provides answers to frequently asked questions concerning the credit monitoring at: https://corporate.target.com/about/payment-card-issue/credit-monitoring-FAQ.aspx.

The free credit monitoring will be offered through Experian’s ProtectMyID, and the service provides a copy of a credit report, daily credit monitoring, identity theft insurance (except where prohibited by law) and access to personalized assistance from a fraud resolution agent.

Target has provided the following information for consumers looking to take advantage of this program:

Justin Fujioka Joins Governor Abercrombie’s Communications Team – Other Staff Advance Into New Roles

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced several updates to his communications team, including the addition of Justin Fujioka as press secretary, effective Jan. 27, 2014.

Justin Fujioka

Justin Fujioka

Fujioka will work alongside other team members who are also stepping into new roles. Christine Hirasa will advance to director of communications to oversee to all aspects of communications for the executive branch, supported by Keith DeMello who has been promoted to deputy director of communications. Tyler Kruse will take on additional responsibilities as communications and digital media specialist.

“Each a product of our University of Hawaii System, the members of my communications team have strong ties in our community and offer a wide array of experience that includes news, public and private sector communications, and social media,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “As the newest member of my staff, Justin will further strengthen our communications efforts and transparency as we head into the new year and a new legislative session.”

Justin Fujioka has reported news and served as chief meteorologist for KITV since 2002, receiving an Emmy Award and a Mark Twain Award from the Associated Press Television-Radio Association for his work. Fujioka is a professional member of the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association. Born and raised in Honolulu, he received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he also reported and edited for the school’s newspaper, Ka Leo O Hawaii, and worked as a public relations assistant at the UH Shidler College of Business serving as a media liaison and helping to coordinate news conferences and special events. He has a Certificate in Broadcast Meteorology from Mississippi State University.

Christine Hirasa has served as deputy director of communications since joining the Governor’s Office in November 2012. Prior to that, she served as a communications specialist for the Hawaii Department of Education and the executive assistant to the chancellor at the University of Hawaii – West Oahu. Hirasa worked as a public information officer at the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs from 2005 to 2010 and at the Hawaii State Judiciary from 2003 to 2005. She has also worked in the news industry as a producer at KHON from 2001 to 2003 and at KHNL/KFVE from 1997 to 2001. Born on Oahu and raised in East Honolulu, Hirasa earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Keith DeMello joined the Governor’s Office in December 2011 as communications manager. Previously, he worked in the private public relations sector, accumulating more than 15 years of experience across a wide spectrum of industries and earning various honors from the Hawaii chapters of the Public Relations Society of America, International Association of Business Communicators, and American Marketing Association. Born in Honolulu and raised in Kailua, DeMello holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and also worked at Ka Leo O Hawaii as a copywriter and story contributor. He is a past president of the American Marketing Association Hawaii Chapter, and past president of the Hawaii Council on Portuguese Heritage.

Tyler Kruse has served as the Governor’s new media specialist since March 2013. As communications and digital media specialist, he will continue to manage social media operations while integrating them with traditional communications efforts and serving as the Governor’s chief photographer. Previously, Kruse worked in the private public relations sector. Born on Kauai and raised in Eleele, Tyler graduated from the UH Shidler College of Business with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, majoring in marketing. He also served as the communications chair of Ad 2 Honolulu and the collegiate and communications chair of the American Marketing Association Hawaii Chapter.

Big Island Man Wanted on Assault Located and Charged with 23 Additional Offenses

A 55-year-old Kawaihae man, who was being sought on a Grand Jury warrant for assault, has been located and charged with an additional 23 offenses.

Martin Frank Booth

Martin Frank Booth

Martin Frank Booth, 55, was arrested last Thursday (January 9) on the warrant and charged with the additional offenses on Friday (January 10).

On December 18, the Area II Vice Section executed a search warrant at a home on Honokoa Street in Kawaihae. During the search, officers recovered 8.1 grams of a crystalline substance, 128 grams of dried green plant material, a rifle and various items of drug paraphernalia.

Russell Kong, 66, of Kawaihae, 38-year-old Keoni Kong of Kamuela and 62-year-old Graly Vasconcellos of Hilo were arrested at the scene and later released pending further investigation. Booth, who lived at the house, was not present at the scene. Police continued to search for him.

On December 29, Kona Patrol officers responded to a Kinue Road home in Captain Cook after a woman reported being threatened with a firearm by an unknown man who had then fled in a sedan Officers later located the car on Highway 11 in Captain Cook. It was being operated by 39-year-old Regina Patrick of Kealakekua. A male occupant fled on foot.

Police arrested Patrick on an outstanding $250 bench warrant and charged her with contempt of court. She was also arrested on suspicion of promoting dangerous drugs but was released on that offense pending further investigation.

Vice officers executed a search warrant on the car and recovered a loaded pistol, an unloaded shotgun, numerous rounds of ammunition, 18.7 grams of a crystalline substance, 0.9 grams of dried green plant material, 40 prescription pills, brass knuckles, several large knives, and paraphernalia associated with the use and sale of crystal methamphetamine.

Police investigation determined that Booth had previously been in the car and that he was the person responsible for the threatening incident. Officers continued their search for him.

At 7:30 a.m. Thursday (January 9) police located Booth at a home on Luau Drive in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates. He was arrested and charged in connection with the $2,000 Grand Jury bench warrant for second-degree assault and taken to the Kona police cellblock while detectives from the Area II Vice Section continued the investigation into the drug, weapons and threatening offenses.

At 5:15 p.m. Friday (January 10), detectives charged Booth with meth trafficking, eight counts of promoting dangerous drugs, promoting controlled substances near a school, three counts of promoting detrimental drugs, three counts of possessing drug paraphernalia, six firearm offenses and terroristic threatening. His bail was set at $266,000. He remained at the cellblock until his initial court appearance on Monday (January 13).

Big Island Police Looking for Man Who Robbed Hilo Bank on Friday

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a suspect wanted for the attempted robbery of a bank in Hilo.

Just before 6 p.m. Friday (January 10), police responded to a reported robbery attempt at the Territorial Savings Bank branch on Makaʻala Street in Hilo. Responding officers learned that at about 5:53 p.m., a lone male had entered the bank and produced a note demanding money. He fled the bank without any money and was last seen running toward Pōhaku Street. No one was injured during the robbery attempt.

Bank Robber 1

The suspect was described as a Caucasian, in his mid-to-late 20s, about 6-foot-1 to 6-foot-2, about 185 to 200 pounds with short wavy black hair and facial acne. He was last seen wearing a blue-and-black striped pullover, jeans, and black shoes with red laces.

Bank Robber 2
The suspect appears to be the same individual who entered the bank earlier in the day to inquire about banking there.

Police recovered bank surveillance video and still images.

Police ask anyone with information on this incident or who may know the identity of the suspect to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Dean Uyetake at 961-2379 or deuytetake@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Idea Improv – Bring Your Own Questions

Got questions about running a business, recording an album or publishing a book? Then you won’t want to miss this one of a kind event. Think TEDx meets Improv. No scripted talks. No PowerPoints. Just you (the audience) asking questions (about anything) and receiving solutions and ideas (that will amaze you). Each of our speakers brings years of expertise to the stage and a willingness to share their knowledge with others. Join us for an evening that will be entertaining as well as educational.

Click to learn more

Click to learn more

If you live on the Big Island, you won’t want to miss this event.

Land Board Issues $2,500 Civil Fine for Commercial Activity Violations at Kealakekua Bay Historic Park

The Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) today authorized an civil penalty fine of $2,500 and associated administrative costs of $753 to be assessed against Alexander Aquino, of Captain Cook, for violation of State Parks Hawaii Administrative Rule chapter 13-146-68, which prohibits commercial activities in State Parks without a written permit from the board or the Division of State Parks.

Aquino was arrested on Nov. 21, 2013 within Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park during an undercover operation conducted by officers of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), and charged with soliciting for patrons to rent kayaks for use in Kealakekua Bay. Also arrested and charged for the same violation was Nathan Kolii, also of Captain Cook.

Criminal cases against both men are still pending.

Kealakekua Bay Historic Park

Kealakekua Bay Historic Park

In January 2013, the Division of State Parks implemented a moratorium on the use of all vessels within Kealakekua Bay and all landings at Kaawaloa Flat. Vehicle parking and launching of kayaks at the historic Napoopoo wharf were no longer allowed without a permit. Only the 3 previously Board-authorized commercial companies holding state parks revocable permits were allowed to continue offering guided kayak tours to Kaawaloa Flat and to launch from Napoopoo. State Park’s objective was to stop the illegal vending and renting of equipment at Napoopoo, and stop the proliferation of kayak client landings at Kaawaloa, with the accompanying environmental damage to nearshore corals and from human waste upon archaeological sites.

State Parks then began to issue special use permits for vessels such as stand-up paddleboards, sailboats, kayaks, etc. to transit the water of the bay only, but not to launch from Napoopoo or land at Kaawaloa. No one is allowed to land a vessel, or to swim from a vessel and land at Kaawaloa. Permits are free and contain a set of conditions to protect the natural resources of the park. During 2013, a total of 447 special use permits were issued, 93 authorized vessel permits, and 354 for non-commercial users.

Although Aquino held a special use permit, it is not a commercial permit allowing for solicitation of patrons within the park, which constitutes a violation of park rules and is grounds for revocation of the permit.

“This case shows that DLNR is taking enforcement action to curb a prolific business in illicit sales and services that have had detrimental impacts on the community and the park environment,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson. “We have provided opportunity for a limited number of responsible commercial vendors to service a manageable number of clients going to Kaawaloa, and share in stewardship responsibility. We have also provided a simple process for ocean recreational users to obtain permits to allow them to enjoy the bay’s waters,” Aila said.

2014 Closure Schedule for Select Hawai‘i County Parks

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation wishes to announce its 2014 general-maintenance schedule for ‘Āhalanui Park, Isaac Kepo‘okalani Hale Beach Park, Kahalu‘u Beach Park and Spencer Park at ‘Ōhai‘ula Beach. These parks will be closed from one to three days most months so larger-scale maintenance work may be undertaken without putting park patrons at unnecessary risk or inconvenience.

Located in Puna, ‘Āhalanui Park will be closed from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the following dates:

Puna ClosuresLocated in Puna, Isaac Kepo‘okalani Hale Beach Park will be closed on the following dates and reopened at 1 p.m. on the day after each closure:

Pohoiki closuresLocated in North Kona, Kahalu‘u Beach Park will be closed from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the following dates:

North Kona Closures

Located in South Kohala, Spencer Park at ‘Ōhai‘ula Beach will be closed all day on the following dates:

South Kohala Closures

The Department of Parks and Recreation thanks park users and the general public for their understanding and cooperation while the temporary closures are occurring.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105, or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management Announces Dean’s List

UH Hilo Moniker

The following students in the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management received Dean’s List honors for the Fall 2013 semester:

Jean Marie Acuna, Harmony Aiona, Kevin Alison, Calvin Arca, Amber Au, Whitney Boteilho, Cody Butler, Elizabeth Capron, Sarah Chard, Megan Clowe, Shannon Correia, James Darden, Noel Dickinson, Alexandra Doi, Robert Dundas, Yasha Eads, Martin Ennis, Shawntiarre Faumui, Alyssa Fujii, Sydney Gamiao, Rachel Gorenflo, Kristin Hardy, Pavel Havlicek, Terence Hedtke, Ashli Hirai, Kelly Hodson, Amy Horn, Kayuri Kadoya, Aleysia-Rae Kaha, Lukas Kambic, Cornel Kea, Anna Kimball, Tiffany Kotani, Kuilei Kramer, Jordan Lee Loy, Daisy Maher, Jordyn Mansinon, Samuel Meleisea, Jade Miyashiro, James Moore, Ron O’Brien, Wesley Piena, Hannah Reid, Jake Rodrique, Jessica Scott, Johnathan Shestokes, Michael Sthreshley, William Trammell, Kirsti Vedenoja, Lehua Wall, Noelani Waters, Shohei Yamaki, and Stephen Zilch.

UH Hilo Honors Individuals with Special Awards

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Chancellor Don Straney honored two individuals with special awards presented during UH Hilo’s Fall 2013 commencement.

Team Poliahu - Featured from left to right: Ryder Donahue, Kayton Summers, Wallace Hamada, Professor Edwards and Mike Purvis.

Team Poliahu – Featured from left to right: Ryder Donahue, Kayton Summers, Wallace Hamada, Professor Edwards and Mike Purvis.

Mike Purvis, a senior computer science major, received the inaugural Community Spirit Award, which includes a $500 cash prize. The award was established this past September by Edward Yamasaki, a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II, and recognizes students who demonstrate excellence in applied research, learning and innovation in their respective fields of study. Purvis is team captain of UH Hilo’s Team Poli`ahu that won the 2013 U.S. Microsoft Imagine Cup Championship and participated in the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Team Poliahu in front of Alexandrinsky Theatre for the awards ceremony

Team Poliahu in front of Alexandrinsky Theatre for the awards ceremony

The Chancellor’s Special Recognition Award was presented to Dr. David Hammes, professor of economics, who retired at the end of the Fall 2013 semester. Hammes received the UH Board of Regent’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2003. In addition to his teaching, he has conducted a number of economic feasibility and cost-of-living studies for UH Hilo and the UH System.

Hammes also serves on the Board of Directors for Hospice of Hilo and was Treasurer during the successful fund-raising drive that led to construction of a new care facility near the University campus.

Hawaii Teachers Win Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Laura Fukumoto of Aliamanu Elementary and Dave Morishige of Mililani Mauka Elementary are the latest Hawaii public school teachers to be named recipients of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The award is given annually to outstanding mathematics and science educators from across the country. The White House made the formal announcement last month.

The winners are chosen by a panel, which includes distinguished scientists, mathematics and educators following an initial selection process at the state level. There were 102 teachers awarded – they represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Department of Defense Education Activity. Each recipient receives a $10,000 prize award from the National Science Foundation to be used at his or her discretion. Also, a ceremony honoring the winners in Washington, D.C. is being planned for later this year.

Laura Fukumoto

Laura Fukumoto

Laura Fukumoto has spent her entire career at Aliamanu and admits that as a beginning teacher, mathematics was her weakest subject. That is until Fukumoto realized, in her words, she was “teaching arithmetic, and not mathematics.” Fukumoto focused on making math relevant through her lessons when she discovered many students, parents and even teachers disliked the subject and felt it was too abstract. She is a 5th grade math teacher who seizes the potential of each day to teach children how to think and to visualize.

“I see a genius inside each of my students, a genius that I do my very best to spark,” said Fukumoto. “When I help them through some pretty tough math, see the twinkle in their eyes, and hear their “Wow”s and the “Aha”s, I know that I chose the very best profession, one that I love and enjoy.”

After graduating from Farrington High, she went on to the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Dave Morishige

Dave Morishige

Dave Morishige has been teaching at Mililani Mauka for the last nine of the 23 years he’s been an educator. He currently teaches science to students in kindergarten through fifth grade, and also serves as the school’s science resource teacher. After taking on the resource position, Morishige says he felt a renewed interest in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. Robotic programs he initiated at the school have earned statewide acclaim.

A graduate of Moanalua High and the University of Hawaii at Manoa (bachelor’s and master’s), Morishige says he has always had a passion for math and science because he enjoys learning and discovering how things work.

“The most rewarding part of my job is to see the joy on the children’s faces as they discover new things and the appreciation they show by saying a simple ‘thank you for teaching me’,” continued Morishige.

“Laura and Dave are two of the finest examples of educators that Hawaii has to offer,” said Ronn Nozoe, deputy superintendent for the Hawaii State Department of Education. “They are true heroes in our children’s lives, nurturing the love of math and science at the elementary levels, and laying the foundation for future successes.”