Patricia Halagao and Peter Leong

Patricia Halagao and Peter Leong

On November 29, 2012, the University of Hawaiʻi System named two UH Mānoa College of Education (COE) faculty members, an alumna, and a graduate student as 2012 Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching award winners. The prestigious award, given to only 15 faculty members across the UH system, recognizes those who have made significant contributions in teaching and student learning and who exhibit an extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity, and personal values beneficial to students.

Patricia Halagao, an associate professor in curriculum studies at the COE, has centered her scholarship, teaching, and community work on themes of culture, partnerships, and justice. She is currently working on several Filipino curricula projects and serving as co-director of a professional development grant to develop The Mau School of Voyaging, which supports Hōkūle‘a’s Worldwide Voyage. She is also the education chair for the University’s Obama Presidential Center Project. In an earlier statement, she expressed that the BOR award gives testimony to the importance of teaching, recognizing that research and writing are critical, but being an educator is first. She added that her students fuel her passion for teaching every day.

Curriculum Studies Chair Andrea Bartlett said, “Patricia has all the qualities that make an excellent teacher – concern for students as individuals, ability to closely monitor student progress, enthusiasm for her fields of social studies and multicultural education, wide-ranging expertise, and courage to stretch her teaching through innovative methods.”

Peter Leong, an assistant professor in educational technology, received the COE’s Exceptional Contributions to Teaching award last year. Under his direction, the COE Second Life (SL) Island was developed and launched in 2011, enabling the college to host a virtual graduation ceremony and bring its online and on-campus educational technology graduates together for the first time. Leong teaches a course entirely in SL, and he created a video game lab to study the use of video games as tools for teaching and learning. He explained that, while he strives to integrate newer technologies, he also works to ensure that students have a sound theoretical base for the development and use of technology. Teaching, he added, is the one activity that gives him the greatest sense of joy and gratification.

“Dr. Leong is one of the few instructors in the UH system who teaches and conducts research in virtual worlds,” Educational Technology Professor Curtis Ho said. “His passion for exploring this emerging technology stems from his desire to create truly immersive learning experiences for online distance students.”

Veronica F. Ogata, an assistant professor at Kapi‘olani Community College, was awarded the regents’ medal at KCC’s commencement ceremony on May 11, 2012. She earned a master’s degree in special education and a doctorate in education with an exceptionalities specialization at the COE and has served KCC’s social sciences department for the past 13 years. During the commencement, Ogata delivered a heartfelt speech in which she thanked her family, friends, and colleagues for their support and inspiration.

“She is a VERY dedicated teacher and very deserving of the award,” Special Education Professor Mary Jo Noonan wrote. “We are extremely proud of her.”

Tod Abey, who is a doctor of obstetrics/gynecology and an associate professor in the John A. Burns School of Medicine, is currently completing his MEd in educational technology at the COE. In a UH System news release, he is described as a humble and caring doctor and a good listener. He has won more than 11 local and national awards (UH System News, November 29, 2012).

Aeby’s advisor and educational technology professor, Catherine Fulford, said, “We are very proud of Dr. Abey for winning this prestigious award. His work with us has been exceptional, and he is an inspiration to us and to his peers in the program. He is well on the way to achieving his goal of transforming medical education with technologies that improve teaching and learning.”

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