Jonathan Gillentine inducted into National Teachers Hall of Fame

Jonathan Gillentine, Ph.D., a 36-year veteran early childhood and special education teacher, was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in Emporia, Kansas on June 23, 2017. He is the first teacher from Hawaii to be selected for this honor and joined four other teacher honorees in 2017 from Alaska, Indiana, Michigan and New York. This year’s inductees were chosen by a national panel of educators, business leaders and Hall of Fame members, the 27th class since the Hall of Fame was established in 1992.

“It is with a deep sense of ha`aheo (pride) that I receive this recognition. It honors not only me, but also my family and my community,” Gillentine said. “I am truly indebted to the keiki of Kaneohe and their families for the partnership we have enjoyed within the realm of teaching and learning. I am also grateful to many colleagues who have supported and encouraged me throughout my career.”

Prior to the induction ceremony, Gillentine and the other inductees were honored during activities held in April in Washington, D.C., including visits to congressional offices and recognition by the National Education Association board of directors.

Gillentine has lived in Hawaii for over 50 years. He began teaching at Kailua High School, then moved to Benjamin Parker School, where he found his “dream job,” serving young children and their families as a preschool inclusion teacher. In 2014, he took a position as early learning specialist at the Department of Education’s Windward District Office, and in 2015 became a mentor teacher for the Executive Office on Early Learning, which administers Hawaii’s public preschool program.

Gillentine is a strong supporter of Hawaii’s public schools. He graduated from Waipahu High School and earned four degrees from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, including a master’s degree in special education and a doctorate in education.

“Jonathan Gillentine holds the conviction that failure is inherently part of the learning process,” said Carol Strickland, Executive Director of the National Teacher Hall of Fame. “He teaches students resiliency and that learning involves finding many possible solutions, trying them, and then selecting the best one. He encourages trying again and again and never giving up.”

Castle-Kahuku Complex Area Superintendent Matt Ho said, “As a school principal, I appreciated Mr. Gillentine’s support and expertise as he provided professional development to my early childhood teachers. He was instrumental in assisting nearly my entire kindergarten teacher team and other teachers at Laie Elementary to secure their graduate degrees in curriculum studies from UH Manoa.”

“Jonathan is the quintessential professional,” added Tracey Idica, an AP English Teacher and Curriculum Coach from Aiea High School. “There is no one better suited or more effective in reaching little ones’ hearts and minds.  His work appears to come naturally from within his soul; however, it is rich with research-based best practices.”

“Jonathan is the type of person who inspires others to be the best person and educator possible,” said Alecia Burroughs, a preschool special education teacher from Keolu School. “All who meet him gravitate towards him, adults and children alike.”

Gillentine is a National Board Certified Teacher and was recognized as the 2007 Outstanding Early Childhood Practitioner by the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators, a 2010 Early Science Educator awardee by the National Science Teachers Association, a 2012 Horace Mann awardee and Global Learning Fellow by the National Education Association Foundation, a 2012 fellow in the America Achieves Teacher and Principal Fellowship, and a 2014 Hope Street Group Hawaii State Teacher Fellow. He is Hawaii’s first licensed Teacher Leader and has served as a state coach for the Teacher Leadership Initiative.

Gillentine has also served in a variety of leadership roles within the Hawaii State Teachers Association, including two terms as a state director, six years on the Joint Special Education Committee and six years on the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board, a panel he chaired between 2006 and 2010.