HSTA Hilo and Central chapters honor excellent teachers

Hilo also bids aloha to retiring HSTA members

Hundreds of teachers from Hawaii Island and Oahu gathered this spring to celebrate the great work of teachers at schools in their HSTA chapters, performing humorous and moving tributes to their co-worker honorees.

More than 250 people came together May 5 at Nani Maui Gardens in Hilo, for Hilo Chapter’s Excellence in Teaching lunch to honor one teacher from each of Hilo’s 18 public schools as well as 17 educators who are retiring at the end of the school year.

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Watch this brief video about the Hilo teacher excellence event.

 “We are here today for our Teacher of Excellence luncheon in celebrating teachers across East Hawaii who have been nominated by their colleagues for this award,” said HSTA Hilo Chapter President Dawn Raymond.

Amy Masaoka, a special education teacher at Pahoa Elementary School, was one of the honorees.

“For me, it’s very special because I’ve only been teaching for six years. So to get this nomination I’m very grateful and I’m honored that I have a lot of support at my school,” Masaoka said.

“We’re very close. It’s almost like a huge family and that’s what keeps us going. Is that we always have the support no matter what’s going on, there’s always someone there who will always help us out and be there,” Masaoka added.

Another teaching excellence Hilo honoree, Andrea Wilson teaches STEM and computer science to kindergarten through 8th graders at Kalanianaole Elementary and Intermediate. 

“I was actually kind of surprised because I take these kids for resource and I take them for RTI (response to intervention) and so the teachers kind of give me their kids and I think they kind of forget about me, right? So it was cool that they remembered,” Wilson said.

Hilo retirees plan to volunteer at schools

Among the Hilo-area retirees is Sarah Glendon, who is retiring after 20 years at Hilo Intermediate, where she’s a fully self-contained special education teacher.

“My favorite is special needs children. Because they don’t do things the way everybody else does. And they teach us to be kind, loving, empathetic and they see the world differently than we normally see it,” Glendon said.

After she retires at the end of the school year, Glendon said, “I’m going to take a break for a little bit with my family and then I’m going to come back and do some volunteer work at our school, because I don’t want the garden to go to weeds so I volunteered to come back to keep that going.” 

Glendon said the garden started this school year and “so far we harvested yams, so everybody took yams home and we cooked it in our classroom and they we had string beans so we cooked that up with Spam and onions.”

Click here to watch our video on YouTube.

Watch this brief video honoring Hilo teachers about to retire.

Donna Tanabe is retiring after 38 years as a teacher, the last 18 as student activities coordinator at Waiakea High School. She has also taught language arts and served as advisor for the yearbook and school newspaper.

“I love working with students,” Tanabe said. “I love the leadership part of it, service projects, but overall, just working with the students, getting activities done in the community and working with the faculty as well.”

“After I retire, I’m going to volunteer back at the school, help out at the beginning, and we’ll see from there. And I’m also going to be a grandmother,” Tanabe added.

Central Chapter celebrates 30th teaching excellence event

On March 30, more than 600 friends, family and coworkers of honorees gathered at the Hawaii Okinawa Center on Oahu for HSTA Central Chapter’s 30th annual Teacher Excellence Luncheon.

One teacher from each of the chapter’s 25 schools was honored at the ceremony.

Click here to watch our video on YouTube.

Watch this brief video about the Central Chapter Teacher Excellence Luncheon.

HSTA President Corey Rosenlee said, “Our colleagues say, ‘We want to recognize at least one teacher from our school from doing a great job.’ So this is a wonderful event to say we’ve got great teachers in our schools.”

At both the Hilo and Honolulu events, co-workers present funny and touching tributes of all sorts. 

Kristi Miyamae, HSTA’s Central Chapter president, said, “It’s a way to celebrate and they’re just really happy about the people who were nominated. So you’ll see schools that do cheers, they’ll do chants, they might even do a song to show how grateful they are to have that teacher at their school.” 

Rosenlee added: “A lot of times teaching is in isolation. Sometimes you ask the question, ‘Does anyone notice the job I’m doing? And what this event does is it really has teachers’ colleagues wanting to recognize the great work they do. And taking that one extra step to make it fun and make it memorable.”

Linda Tavares, who retired about 18 years ago, was the driving force behind creating the excellence luncheon decades ago. She was a public school educator for 41 years, most of that time teaching fourth grade at Schofield Barracks’ Solomon Elementary.

“I thought that we needed to honor teachers and so we did it small at Solomon at first. Because we were in Central Chapter, they decided they wanted to do other schools, so it got bigger each year,” Tavares recalled.

“It’s all about making somebody feel good. And maybe teachers are just taken for granted, in a sense. But they do so much for schools and for children and they sacrifice a lot,” Tavares added.

Miyamae, the Central Chapter president, summed things up by saying, “This is just one of those special occasions where we get to celebrate all the wonderful teaching that goes on, so hopefully this event will go on for another 30 more years, and we can continue to perpetuate all this greatness that we see in the classrooms.”


Author: Keoki Kerr