Congratulations:  Inaugural teacher fellows to play key role in public education

Common core state standards provide all students with the same high-quality, world-class education necessary to be successful in our fast-changing world. The promise of CCSS for all students is extraordinary, and we owe it to our students to fulfill that promise, but we need to get implementation right.

As educators, we hope that our policymakers would make an equal commitment to implement the standards correctly by providing students, educators, and schools with the time, supports, and resources that are absolutely crucial in order to make changes of this magnitude to our education system.

In states that have made a commitment to involving teachers up front and providing teachers with the time, training, and resources they need to make the standards work, educator support for the standards is strong.


The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is pleased to announce the selection of 17 public school educators to the Hope Street Group’s inaugural Hawaii State Teacher Fellows. Together with the DOE and the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA), the fellows will voice teacher perceptions and potential solutions to issues educators face in implementing the Hawaii Common Core.

The fellows represent a range of outstanding Hawaii teachers chosen from a pool of competitive candidates from across the state. Selected for their strong individual commitments to improving learning outcomes for children, fellows will serve as leaders among their peers for the next 12 months, and have the option of continuing in their leadership capacity for additional school years. 

“The Hawaii State Teacher Fellows have a critical charge ahead to expand engagement of their peers, by their peers. They stand ready to lead in this role as they lead every day in their respective classrooms,” said Dan Cruce, vice president for education, Hope Street Group.

The 17 teachers selected to be Hawaii’s first State Teacher Fellows are:
1. Yuuko Arikawa (Leilehua Complex)
2. Ruth Ballinger (Puunene – Maui District)
3. Justin Brown (Kealakehe High)
4. Kristen Brummel (McKinley Complex)
5. Jaimelynne Cruz (Kamaile Academy)
6. Elizabeth Marie Fitzpatrick (Keonopoko Elementary)
7. Michelle June Fujie (Lanai High and Elementary)
8. Jonathan Gillentine (Windward District)
9. Tracey Lynn Idica (Aiea High)
10. Dana Ishiii (Kanoelani Elementary)
11. Loretta Labrador (Kualapuu Public Charter)
12. Sharon M. Look (Paia Elementary)
13. Jonathon Medeiros (Kauai High)
14. Tracy Monroe (Ilima Intermediate)
15. Christopher J. Rodriguez (Waipahu Elementary)
16. Jamie Takamura (Red Hill Elementary)
17. Leslie Toy (Aiea Intermediate)

Through the partnership, the group will be trained in peer and community engagement, data collection and media strategies – all with the intent of sharing information with the community. Fellows will also collect input from their peers to present to the DOE.

“The development of the Hawaii State Teacher Fellows is a tremendous step toward our shared commitment to engage teachers at every level,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “This collaborative program will reinforce our strategic work toward student and staff success in our schools. We’re grateful to our partners for their commitment and support in this effort.”

By engaging school communities, informing state policy decisions, and participating in professional development and training opportunities, fellows will work toward elevating the teaching profession and providing the DOE with critical feedback on the Hawaii Common Core – a set of consistent learning expectations aimed at preparing all graduates for college and careers.

HSTA Executive Director Al Nagasako supports this work stating, “Engaging teachers in the elevation of their profession is core to our work at the Hawaii State Teachers Association. We look forward to continuing our collaborative partnership with Hope Street Group and the Department of Education as this program provides additional teacher voice at the decision-making table.”

The Hawaii State Teacher Fellows program is supported locally by grants from Harold K. L. Castle Foundation, Hawaii Community Foundation, and by a $200,000 grant from McInerny Foundation.

“This program is heavily focused on supporting the development of teacher leaders in Hawaii, which is why the Castle Foundation chose to support it. We believe it is a step in the right direction in building a profession of teachers in Hawaii who take on added leadership to improve the system,” said Harold K.L. Castle Foundation President and CEO Terrence R. George.

“Ensuring that teachers have a voice in decisions that impact their daily practice is essential,” added Tammi Chun of the Hawaii Community Foundation.
Hope Street Group is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to expanding economic opportunity and prosperity for all Americans. For more information, see: http://www.hopestreetgroup.org  .