The History of Teacher Institute Day

See the schedule of 2015 meetings, agendas, and details for every island HERE>>>

By Joan Lee Husted
Retired HSTA Executive Director and former HSTA Chief Negotiator

HSTA did not invent Teacher Institute Day. The Hawaii State Legislature created it in the 1960s to provide time for teachers to meet together and work on school related topics.

In 1972, HSTA included Teacher Institute Day into the collective bargaining agreement to protect it should the Legislature decide to take the day away. During bargaining, the Employer wanted teachers to sign it and the sign in sheets turned into each principal. If a teacher did not attend, the Employer would dock the teacher pay. The Association maintained that teachers were not babies and were professional enough to go to the Institute without threats.

To ensure that all islands had an equal opportunity to hear from the keynote speakers, the institutes were spread out during Institute Week with guest speakers and HSTA staff riding the circuit.  NEA presidents or other NEA dignitaries were major draws affording Hawaii’s teachers an unique opportunity to hear important speakers on issues affecting their careers: an opportunity not shared by many Mainland teachers.

In a landmark case, a teacher was injured when her car was rear ended by another automobile and won a workers’ compensation case when the court ruled that Teacher Institute was a work day and not a personal day.

As time passed and the Association’s communication systems and governance systems became more sophisticated, Teacher Institute took on other tasks. Though collective bargaining and legislative activities still were discussed, more workshops were introduced to assist teachers with their jobs and their personal concerns such as retirement and health care. Displays were added at the requests of teachers and prove to be one of the most popular aspects of Teacher Institute Day.                 

Currently, Teacher Institute Day is the single largest professional development day in the school calendar covering a variety of topics and noteworthy keynote speakers. However, in its early days, Institute was used as Association days to inform teachers on what was happening in negotiations, lobbying, political action and grievance processing.