Christina Keaulana was awarded the 2015 Innovative Online Teaching Award from Leeward Community College (LCC) where she serves as an instructor in teacher education. Keaulana is a graduate of the College of Education Department of Special Education (SPED) master’s program and a current PhD candidate in Exceptionalities.
Keaulana was recognized for the nonlinear framework of her online course, Partnerships with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Families. Encouraging student-to-student as well as student-to-instructor collaboration, she engages students from the first day and establishes an open classroom community. Students are able to bring their own interests and discoveries into the course through Keaulana’s use of active learning strategies.
“As a first generation immigrant and long-time educator in communities serving culturally and linguistically diverse populations, I really wanted to create a course in which students shared stories, struggles, and inquiries about this unique topic,” said Keaulana. “The structure of the course allowed me to really get to know the students and offer feedback on a personal level. As colleges continue to offer more and more online course options, I hope to share my methods of teaching to encourage instructors to step outside of the typically detached distance learning experience.”
Committed to education on the Leeward Coast, Keaulana says she will continue to grow SPED programs at LCC and work to improve opportunities and outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse students. She developed an official partnership with Kamehameha Schools’ Culture-Based Education Program to embed culturally responsive instructional practices into the paraeducator preparation curriculum at LCC. She has also developed a partnership with Special Olympics, working alongside her students as they gain practical experience with children with disabilities.
“We are very proud of, but not surprised by, Christina receiving this award,” said Professor Bryan Cook. “Christina is bright, innovative, and passionate about preparing effective educators in Hawaiʻi. I look forward to more achievements of excellence during and after the completion of her PhD in Exceptionalities at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.”