Kristen Brummel named Hawaii’s 2011 State Teacher of the Year

BrummelKristen Brummel, a fourth grade teacher at Noelani Elementary, is Hawaii’s 2011 State Teacher of the Year. The announcement was made this afternoon during the Hawaii State Board of Education meeting at Castle High School.

Several significant people, including her grandfather and a number of special teachers, in Kristen’s life nurtured her resolve to become a teacher. Her wish is “to inspire children and instill the confidence in them that will help them realize that they are all capable of amazing things.”


She personally feels “a classroom should be a place where students show one another mutual respect and kindness, and where they celebrate each other’s individuality as they learn from and grow together.”

Prior to the start of school, she welcomes each student with a postcard. During the first weeks of school, the students and she write “Getting to Know You Letters” to each other. And, at the end of the year, each child receives a personal letter from Kristen reminiscing about their time together, encouraging their dreams, and sharing her hopes for them.

This National Board Certified Teacher has introduced Noelani’s fourth graders to “A World of Discovery,” a place where students are constantly encouraged to think, ask questions, and search for answers.

She uses interactive whiteboards and student response systems, an online electronic grade book for tracking student performance, production software programs to demonstrate student learning (like podcasting and iMovies), and web pages to inform and share student work with parents.

In her spare time, Kristen is a mentor teacher, grade-level chairperson, guest lecturer, educational consultant, blog writer, after-school Lego Robotics instructor, and community volunteer.

Kristen earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, and a master’s degree in curriculum studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has taught fourth grade at Noelani Elementary since 2006 and has been a teacher for total of seven years.

In the Teacher of the Year ceremony:

The Polynesian Cultural Center, the State TOY program’s corporate sponsor for 25 years, awarded $500 to each District TOY, and an additional $1,000 to the State TOY;
SMARTer Kids Foundation presented gifts of instructional software to each District TOY, and other classroom technology to the State TOY; and
Hawaii Automobile Dealers’ Association awarded the State TOY with a free one-year lease of a new car.
The State Teacher of the Year is selected from among Hawaii’s seven District Teachers of the Year. Brummel was the Honolulu District TOY. The following information on the other District Teachers of the Year is from the District and State TOY presentation ceremony script as presented today:

Video Highlight “One day in a child’s life” - Kristin Brummel


ColteMICHELLE COLTE—Central Oahu District, Hale Kula Elementary. Through hands-on creative instruction, Michelle’s teachers cultivated her love of learning. As a young child, she loved playing school and going to school. In 2004, she earned her master’s degree in library and information science. Today, Hale Kula’s librarian is building relationships with teachers, students, and their families.

Ninety-eight percent of Hale Kula’s families are military who will stay in Hawaii only for one to three years. During their stay, she wants them to feel a sense of ohana.

For Michelle, “purposeful change brings meaningful change.” She feels teachers need to embrace “accountability” and must “invite parents and policymakers” into classrooms so they can better understand “instructional challenges and successes.”


BenderALISA BENDER—Leeward Oahu District, James Campbell High. After her children entered high school, Alisa wanted to influence and empower other youngsters. Soon thereafter, she garnered an impressive 4.0 grade point average while earning a master’s degree in secondary education.

Since arriving on campus in 2005 with her smile and upbeat personality, students at Campbell High want to attend English class and learn. Alisa feels “teaching is an opportunity to inspire and empower” and “wants to help develop students’ learning into a transformational experience.”

She notes, “the new world, the global community, demands higher quality education for all, an education beyond a high school diploma.” Alisa is committed to helping her students to discover their potential and succeed.


YasudaDEBORAH YASUDA - Windward Oahu District, Puohala Elementary. A sincere love for children, a lifelong passion to be a teacher, and her devoted parents greatly influenced Debby’s decision to become an educator. She doesn’t think of teaching as a job, but rather an extension of herself and her desire to make a difference in lives of her children.

Her philosophy of teaching is “Do it with A-L-O-H-A!” Each day, Debby translates aloha into Attitude, Literacy, Ownership, Heart, and Appreciation in her first grade classroom at Puohala.

She knows in her heart that all “confident students meet and exceed the standards when they are validated and know they can succeed on their journey to becoming lifelong learners.”


CameliSANDY CAMELI—Hawaii District, Konawaena Middle. Sandy always wanted to be a teacher “not because of the big desk or chalkboards” and “not because a captive audience would be forced to listen to [her]”; on the contrary, it was due to the guidance of great teachers.

After earning a degree in elementary education, Sandy landed a job teaching sixth graders. At the time, imagining her new classroom made her cringe in horror. Twenty-five years later, she is still teaching the “hormonal” youth and their counterparts.

Sandy wrote, “It has never occurred to me that learning should have an end point. Learning is its own reward.” While pursuing a doctorate, Sandy continues to embrace and model the ideals of a lifelong learner at Konawaena Middle.


kiyonagaSCOT KIYONAGA—Maui District, Maui Waena Intermediate. Scot’s father, a social studies teacher, ignited his dream to become an educator; therefore, becoming a band teacher was not Scot’s first intention. In fact, his parents had to force him to take band in intermediate school.

At Maui Waena, Scot’s teaching style has been: “Embody what you teach, teach what you embody.” He emphasizes the importance of demonstrating and communicating expectations for students on a daily basis and modeling the Aloha Spirit concept in the classroom.

Scot says, “Let us not forget, as teachers, we have a global responsibility to everyone; we must inspire the next generation to achieve greatness with dignity and respect for each other and the world.”


ArinagaALTHEA KALEI ARINAGA - Kauai District, Kapaa Elementary With gentle words of encouragement, Kalei’s second grade teacher inspired her to become an educator. After receiving a degree in education, she was determined to make a difference in the lives of children.

At Kapaa Elementary, Kalei’s dedication to student achievement extends far beyond the school’s boundaries and hours. By participating in community service projects, her fourth grade “students learn to take care of the world by understanding where they live and by taking action in their own backyards and communities.”

Kalei believes when teachers look into the eyes of their students, they are looking into the future. “[Teachers] have the greatest gift, the opportunity to set the destiny for [their] island, state, country and the world.”

(Photos courtesy of DOE Website)