Kauai teacher Michael Kline wins HSTA teaching excellence award

Kilauea Elementary School special education teacher Michael Kline has been honored with the Hawaii State Teacher Association’s (HSTA) S.T.A.C.Y. Award for Teaching Excellence.

The award is given annually to a teacher for exemplary actions in the following areas: scholarship, teaching, advocacy, community and youth.

Kline is a special education preschool teacher who chairs the Special Education Department at Kilauea Elementary.

“I love these kids and feel honored to be their first teacher in a school setting,” Kline said.

At Kilauea, Kline also serves as a member of the Academic Review Team and has started skateboard, soccer and hip-hop/break dance clubs. He volunteers to coach several basketball teams each spring in the Kauai Police Activities League.

HSTA President Corey Rosenlee said, “Mike is a leader both inside and outside the classroom. We salute his tireless work to help students and teachers.”

Kline serves as vice president and secretary of HSTA’s Kauai Chapter, positions he has held for three and 12 years respectively. As the first Kauai teacher to be national board certified as an Exceptional Needs Specialist in 2003, he has supported numerous other teachers on the island in pursuing their national board certifications.

Kline is founding member of the Kauai Teacher Fellowship, a pilot program that started this year to provide regular teacher voice at principal meetings on Kauai. He is also co-founder and facilitator of the Hawaii Teacher Leader Network which gathers educational stakeholders from across the state to create pathways to leadership for Hawaii teachers.

“Mike has a gentle heart and voice, but he is a strong advocate for students, teachers and the voiceless,” said Jeri Yamagata, HSTA’s Kauai Chapter president.

“I am so proud to be a part of such a wonderful union as HSTA and of our power together as teachers in shaping and supporting teacher leaders like myself to positively impact their students, schools, communities and state,” Kline said. “I have become the teacher leader I am today only because of the teacher leaders who have mentored and supported me in countless ways.”

“I am very grateful to RJ Rodriguez, HSTA Professional Development Specialist; Tracey Idica, the Hawaii National Board Certified Teacher Director and my Teacher Leader Initiative director; Dr.  Jonathan Gillentine, HSTA Board of Directors member and my Teacher Leader Initiative director; and Kelly Miyamura, Director of Hope Street Group for their guidance and support the last few years. They are model leaders in our state. I couldn’t have achieved what I did without them and their service to so many teachers in the state,” Kline added.

HSTA named the S.T.A.C.Y. award after the late Stacy Nishina, a teacher leader and beloved HSTA staff member.

Kline will represent the state of Hawaii at the National Education Association’s (NEA) Foundation Awards of Teacher Excellence in Washington, D. C. next February. The top five teachers will receive the Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence, $10,000 and recognition at the NEA awards ceremony.