Kamuela Kimokeo was awarded a Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching in May 2023. The award is given annually by the Board of Regents to faculty members who exhibit an extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity, and personal values that benefit students.
Kimokeo, who earned his PhD in Curriculum and Instruction as well as his Master of Education in Teaching (MEdT) from the College of Education (COE), is the director of the Hawai‘i Music Institute at Windward Community College where he teaches a variety of music courses, including ʻukulele and slack key guitar. Through music, he is able to connect his students to the people, places, and history of Hawaiʻi.
In addition to teaching the classics in Hawaiian music, Kimokeo requires his students to write their own songs about issues and topics they care about, giving them a platform where their voices can be heard and expressed in a creative way.
“While I have never taught for the purpose of winning an award, I am grateful to know that my students value what I share with them,” Kimokeo said. “I know that most teachers spend countless hours prepping and thinking about how to better shape their curriculum. This award definitely helps to make those hours feel worthwhile.”
In February, Kimokeo was among several Hawaiʻi scholars invited to participate on a Presidential Panel at the 2023 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Together with COE Professor Margaret Maaka and Associate Professor Kekailoa Perry, he presented Whose truth matters in education research? Deconstructing, Reconstructing, and Advancing Indigenous Truths in the Pacific Region (and beyond).
“There is a Hawaiian proverb which says “I ke ali‘i nō ke ali‘i i nā kānaka” This means in short that a chief is only truly a chief because of the people who follow them,” Kimokeo said. “By that same token I would say “I kumu nō i ke kumu i nā haumana.” A teacher is only truly a teacher because of the students. I feel privileged to have great students who put in effort to learn and appreciate not only the competencies that I teach them but also the method of instruction.”
Kimokeo performs with his Nā Hōkū Hanohano award-winning group Hiʻikua and legendary artist Jerry Santos.