Tristan Nguyen, who earned his BEd in Secondary Education from the UH Mānoa College of Education (COE), has been named the 2022 Hawai‘i State Milken Teacher of Promise. Nguyen teaches math at Kalani High School where he was surprised with the award and a $2,000 prize during a ceremony in front of faculty and students on April 21, 2022.
Selected for his motivational and innovative efforts at his school, Nguyen holds school-wide study halls, conducts assessments for the math department, and sends home bi-weekly newsletters. He is also known for forming strong connections with his students and volunteering beyond the school day.
“Since his time as a student teacher in the Kahalewaihoʻonaʻauao Institute for Teacher Education Secondary Program, Tristan has demonstrated an unwavering dedication to improving his teaching practice and innovation in the classroom,” said Associate Professor of Mathematics Education Charmaine Mangram. “I am not at all surprised that these qualities have been noticed by others.”
After deciding to switch his major from Natural Resources and Environmental Management (NREM), Nguyen says joining the COE was the most direct path to reaching his goal of becoming a teacher.
“While I was still an NREM major, I was tutoring at Kaiser High School in their AVID program,” Nguyen said. “Sharing strategies with the upper level students I was working with, seeing their eyes light up when it finally clicked, and the feeling of satisfaction I felt from there spurred me on to enter the COE.”
For prospective teachers, Nguyen says to rely on your classmates and professors. “They are a wealth of knowledge and support that can get you through the most overwhelming of workloads. Do not be afraid to ask for help should things get tough! For anyone afraid of jumping into their first full-time teaching gigs, it is totally okay to be uncertain when you start. You have your experience from student teaching to fall back on, and part of becoming a teacher is finding your own style and pace. These are things that take time to figure out.”
Each year since 2007, the Milken Educators of Hawai‘i has selected a HIDOE educator who demonstrates outstanding commitment and potential within their first three years of teaching. The Teacher of Promise award alternates between elementary and secondary teachers, and the state winner is selected from a group of HIDOE complex area honorees.