Jonathan Gillentine, alumnus of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa College of Education (COE), was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame on June 23, 2017. An early childhood and special education teacher for nearly 40 years, Gillentine is the first teacher from Hawai‛i to receive this honor.
Established in 1989, the Teachers Hall of Fame selects exceptional career teachers who are reviewed by a national panel of educators, business leaders, and Hall of Fame members.
“It is with a deep sense of ha‛aheo (humility and pride) that I receive this recognition. It honors not only me, but also my family and community,” Gillentine said. “I am truly indebted to the keiki of Kāne‘ohe and their families for the partnerships we have built within the realm of teaching and learning. I am also grateful to the many colleagues who have supported and encouraged me throughout my career.”
Gillentine received his master’s and doctorate degrees from the COE where he mentored teacher candidates for eight years, served on the Early Childhood Teacher Education Committee, and continues to teach as an adjunct instructor for the Master of Early Childhood Education and Master of Curriculum Studies (PK–3) programs. A National Board Certified Teacher, he began teaching at Kailua High School before moving to Benjamin Parker Elementary School where he found his “dream job,” serving young children and their families as a preschool inclusion teacher.
Assistant Specialist Robyn Chun said, “Having grown up through adversity, Jonathan understands firsthand the vulnerability of young children. He is a deeply humble man who inspires teachers to approach each child with joy and wonder. With his calm, kind, and whimsical nature, he is an adult who always has time to play and in whom his students trust.”
In 2014, Gillentine began working as an early learning specialist for the Hawai‛i Department of Education, Windward District Office. The following year, he became a mentor teacher for the Executive Office on Early Learning, which is responsible for administering Hawai‛i’s public preschool program. He retired from this position on June 1, 2017. Over the course of his career, he has earned numerous awards and recognitions.
Gillentine was named the 2007 Outstanding Early Childhood Practitioner by the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators, a 2010 Early Science Educator awardee by the National Science Teachers Association, a 2012 Horace Mann awardee and Global Learning Fellow by the National Education Association Foundation, a 2012 fellow in the America Achieves Teacher and Principal Fellowship, and a 2014 Hope Street Group Hawai‛i State Teacher Fellow. He is also Hawai‛i’s first licensed Teacher Leader and has served as a state coach for the Teacher Leadership Initiative.