On January 29, 2016, Michael Sana was surprised with the 2015–16 Milken Educator Award and a $25K cash prize. The presentation took place at a school-wide assembly amidst more than 2,000 cheering students, teachers, and guests who included Governor David Ige, First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige, Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, and Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice-President Dr. Jane Foley.
A Waipahu High School (WHS) science teacher, Sana earned both a post-baccalaureate certificate in secondary education and a master’s degree in curriculum studies from the UH Mānoa College of Education. Despite an incredibly busy schedule, Sana has served as a mentor in the college’s Master of Education in Teaching (MEdT) program as well as a mentor for other students in extracurricular activities.
“Mike is an exemplary teacher leader,” said MEdT Chair Jon Yoshioka. “He is a great example for our students of someone who not only excels in the classroom, but who also serves as an agent of change in the greater community.”
Since becoming chair of WHS’s science department, Sana has helped to transform the school’s science curriculum into the rigorous college and career-focused program it is today. He is responsible for increasing the number of AP Biology students from 12 to more than 50, and many of his students have gone on to receive college scholarships. Through his encouragement and guidance, his students also conduct scholarly research, which has led to 120 publications with the National Institutes of Health.
“As a graduate of the College of Education, I am so honored and proud to be teaching in Hawai‘i’s public school system,” Sana said. “The college helped to lay a solid foundation for an exciting career as an educator, and I was very fortunate to have great counselors and advisors who guided me through the process. Thank you, Melvin Spencer, Dr. Barbara Klemm, Mrs. Esther Shigezawa, Dr. Pauline Chinn, and Dr. Patricia Halagao for all that you do to help prepare future generations of teachers.”
The recipient of 14 education awards over the last ten years – including awards from the Hawai‘i State Teachers Association, Bishop Museum, the Society of American Military Engineers, Chevron Hawai‘i, and the National Science Teachers Association – Sana can add the prestigious Milken Educator Award to the growing list.
“I am very humbled by the award recognition,” Sana concluded. “It really means a lot in terms of the validation that I’m doing my job as an educator, making sure students get the best education possible. I share this award with my former teachers who provided me with experiences that shaped my love for learning as a student and helped me to become the educator that I am today.”