“It is truly an honor and a blessing to be recognized for doing what I am passionate about.”

Hometown:  Village of Nuuuli, American Samoa

Department:  Curriculum Studies

Degree:  Master of Education (MEd) in Curriculum Studies, PACMED* Program

Where do you work?
I am a history teacher in Tafuna High School where I have also been the Department Head for three years now. This is my eighth year teaching at the secondary level for the American Samoa Department of Education.
What does it mean to you to be named Territorial Teacher of the Year?
It is truly an honor and a blessing to be recognized for doing what I am passionate about. It’s an amazing feeling to educate young minds for a better future. To become an ambassador of all the passionate educators, I am humbled.
Briefly describe your road to college and the field of education.
In 2006, I was selected by my Pathfinders in Leone as the Teacher of the Year after teaching my younger peers for two and a half years right out of high school. It did not hit me then, but the journey I was on was leading me to what I was destined to become. After becoming a Master Guide, earning a Pathfinders Leadership Award (PLA), it was natural for me to give back and teach my younger peers the same values I have learned from my teachers. Setting a good example and being able to relate to them on a personal level was the reason I enjoyed teaching Pathfinders before I became a teacher in the American Samoa Department of Education (ASDOE).After achieving my Bachelor of Arts in History and Social Science at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, I returned home with my fiancé at the time to start planning our life together in American Samoa. Fresh out of college with no experience, it was hard to get into the field of my choice, let alone a job offer. When I decided to give teaching a try, there was no better way to start off my teaching career than at my very own alma mater, Tafuna High School, Home of the Warriors. When I started teaching, I was very excited but hesitant at the same time. I thought to myself, I will teach for a while to await another job opportunity and to see if teaching was even for me. Then something unexpected happened.The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa College of Education was offering a Master in Education degree. As a newly hired teacher, I was in dire need of help in terms of strategies, methodologies, etc. to better prepare for daily classroom practices, especially to help the young adolescents learn with the changing times. Fortunately, I was eligible through my spouse to receive a tuition waiver. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would pursue a master’s degree due to financial obligations and time constraints. However, this was the beginning of another journey that has helped mold me into the educator that I am today.
What does the PACMED program (formerly MSLMED) mean to you?
This program lead me to a career changing experience and inspired me to expand my networking through working collaboratively with colleagues and professors to perfect my craft and to push myself to be the best teacher I can be every season.
Is there anyone in particular who inspired you along the way?  How?
My former educators, of course. During my BA program, my history professors Drs. Gibson and Schroder, were not only competent educators but passionate ones too. During my MSLMED program, I learned a lot from my advisor Dr. Deering as well as from Dr. Zuercher who both really pushed me to become a better educator than I was before.
What are your future plans?
I plan to teach for as long as I can. This journey has made me realize that I am passionate about helping students succeed and make changes for a better future.*PACMED is a degree program in the Department of Curriculum Studies with a focus on culturally responsive, Pacific, placed-based STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics). The first cohort of the PACMED program graduated in July 2019.I’m interested in learning more about a degree or certificate from the College of Education.

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