MEdT Alumus

Raymond LaFleur

“The MEdT program enabled me to return home, start a family, and pursue a teaching credential/graduate degree all in the same package.”

Hometown

Kailua, HI

Department

Institute for Teacher Education - M.Ed. in Teaching

Related Degrees

  • MEd, Teaching (MEdT) - Non-Licensure

What degree(s) do you hold?
I earned my Master of Education in Teaching (MEdT) from the COE and a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD

Where do you work?
I work full time as a math teacher at Mid-Pacific Institute and part time with the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard as a Civil Engineer.

Tell us about your recent guest appearance on a Hawaii News Now education special (11.08.21).
I was invited to participate in the HNN segment through a partnership with Kamehameha Schools and the Department of Education. The segment, Evolving Education: Learning Through COVID (Town Hall), was a town hall conversation, exploring the long-term effects of distance learning and how classrooms are evolving during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How did you become interested in the field of education?
I was a helicopter pilot in the United States Marine Corps from 2011–2016. Rather than pursue a career as a commercial pilot, I decided that I could contribute more to the community through education as a teacher. I learned that I had a knack for teaching as a Basic Instructor Pilot, and I also felt that teaching would allow me to support my wife and family. Now that my daughter is four years old, I think that I have made the right choice.

Why did you choose the Master of Education in Teaching (MEdT) program?
I had always intended to return to Hawaiʻi after my career in the military. The MEdT program enabled me to return home, start a family, and pursue a teaching credential/graduate degree all in the same package.

How has the COE program impacted or benefited your education and/or career path?
The faculty was top-notch, and the cohort structure made me feel like part of a community (shout out to MEdT Cohort 45, the Bark Squad!). This feeling of belonging helped me adjust to both the intellectual and emotional demands of teaching. Partner schools, in-class observations with advisors, and a diversity of guest speakers grounded my understanding of what cultural relevance means in Hawaiʻi.

Leaving the military was a leap of faith. While in the mountains of South Korea on deployment, I made a five-year plan that ended with teaching science at Mid-Pacific. After graduating from the MEdT program, I applied to Mid-Pacific for a science position. I did not get the job. A rocket scientist beat me out!

After this setback, one of my mentors, Mark Hines, recommended that I apply for a math position to “get my foot in the door.” This time I made it on the team! Once I started teaching Math at Mid-Pacific, I fell in love with the math department and have not looked back. I am enamored with the school’s focus on social-emotional considerations and creating a collaborative environment that helps students and teachers thrive.

Is there anyone in particular who inspired you to pursue teaching as a career?
I will never forget my high school biology teacher, Lyle Chee, who recently retired from Mid-Pacific last year. I can still remember his happy demeanor, his jokes, and his consistently high expectations of us. Lyle would insist that his daughter’s name was Kim Chee with an earnest face. I’m pretty sure his daughter’s name is Grace, but the fact that I’m still not sure to this day is a testament to his commitment to laughter in the classroom.

It was truly a privilege to teach alongside him for a year and pass on some of his traditions. He cultivated in me every day critical thinking, attention to detail, and an attitude of playfulness that lasts with me today.

What are your future visions and goals?
My vision this year was to ambitiously try and do less over the next two to three years and focus on my family. I never expected to do anything beyond teaching and some engineering on the side.

Although I intended to do less, I feel that MEdT alumni are responsible for advocating for teachers and students. So far this year, I’ve been invited to talk briefly on a teacher panel on Hawaii News Now. I was also asked to co-present with an education researcher at the Schools of the Future Conference. Thankfully, with the growth mindset instilled by the MEdT program, I feel confident enough to try these things and look forward to whatever comes next!

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