UH Mānoa College of Education (COE) alumni and a current doctoral student have been named Hawai‘i Complex Area Teachers of the Year. Celeste Endo, Kathy Sewake, Ululani Russo, Dustin Chang, and Nikki Morishige are complex area winners who were among the finalists for the Hawai‘i State Teacher of the Year, which was awarded to Cecilia “CC” Chung.
COE Dean Nathan M. Murata said, “We are so amazed by and proud of all of the Teachers of the Year. Their commitment to improving education in Hawai’i, year after year, is inspiring.”
Endo, who earned a Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree in elementary education and a Master of Education (MEd) degree in educational technology, is the Kaimukī-McKinley-Roosevelt Complex winner. She works at Queen Ka‘ahumanu Elementary and says her time at the college helped her to become the teacher she is today.
“My most vivid memory of the COE is working into the wee hours of the morning to complete a team video project,” Endo said. “My classmates and I made discoveries, laughed hysterically, and developed an ‘ohana. This sense of belonging has helped me throughout teaching as no one teacher can do this work alone. We are stronger through our combined efforts to care, share, and grow together.”
Hilo-Waiākea Complex winner Kathy Sewake also holds a BEd in elementary education and an MEd educational technology. A classroom teacher and Technology Coordinator at Waiākea Elementary, she says the COE provided her with a strong foundation to adapt to the changing needs of Hawai‘i’s students.
“The support that I received from my professors and peers throughout the elementary education and educational technology programs was amazing,” Sewake said. “In fact, I continue to learn from these incredible educators and friends today.”
Current PhD student in the Department of Curriculum Studies, Russo is the Nānākuli-Waiʻanae Complex winner and teaches at Waiʻanae Intermediate. She said, “All of the graduate classes I have taken have helped my teaching career tremendously, as they focus on Hawaiian culture and place-based science. As a new PhD student, I am taking classes out of my comfort, and itʻs been opening my eyes to multiple perspectives. I canʻt wait to see whatʻs to come!”
Morishige is the Castle-Kahuku Complex winner. A teacher at Waiāhole Elementary, she earned a Master of Education in Teaching (MEdT) degree.
“The professors were very encouraging and helpful, preparing us for what we needed to know and what to expect as future teachers,” said Chang. “The classes allowed me to learn and make connections with professionals in the field of music, many of whom I turn to today for help and advice.” The ‘Aiea-Moanalua-Radford Complex winner, he received a BEd in Secondary Education and teaches at Pearl Harbor Elementary.
Each of the finalists was awarded $500 from the Polynesian Cultural Center, $100 from the Hawai‘i Schools Federal Credit Union, and an honorarium from the Hawaiian Electric Company. Endo, along with State winner, Chung, and Pearl City-Waipahu Complex winner, Jennifer Yamaguchi, will be recognized on Educator Appreciation Day at Aloha Stadium during the UH vs. Fresno State football game on November 2, 2019.