Monday, April 15, 2019

HSTA honors Molokai High School librarian as educator of the year

Diane Mokuau receives the 2019 S.T.A.C.Y. Award for Teaching Excellence

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Molokai High School librarian Diane Mokuau received one of the Hawaii State Teachers Association’s highest honors this weekend: the 2019 S.T.A.C.Y. Award for Teaching Excellence.

Mokuau was recognized Saturday at HSTA’s 47th annual State Convention at the Hawaii Convention Center. The award presentation featured a powerful oli by Molokai Chapter President Lokelani Han and fellow Molokai Chapter educators, and an introduction by last year’s S.T.A.C.Y. Award recipient and national 2019 Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence winner, Ewa Makai Middle School teacher Cynthia Tong.

Mokuau has lived on Molokai for nearly 30 years and, according to HSTA Vice President Osa Tui Jr., is instrumental in shaping the island’s learning environment.

“With her skills honed over the years, Diane has put her organizing into action for her community. She also advocates for non-classroom teachers and rural school faculties and the challenges faced by both of those constituencies,” Tui said. “She has worked hard to ensure that her library is well utilized, often operating at maximum capacity. Her acquisitions over the years of various technology and customized resources help to ensure that student literacy is improved and sustained and can target all levels of students throughout her school.”

After teaching for six years, Mokuau transitioned to the role of school librarian. She worked for seven more years at the elementary level before transferring to Molokai High School, where she’s been for the past 15 years. Determined to elevate her profession even further, Mokuau became a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), a designation that she has proudly held for the past eight years.

Mokuau is an unwavering advocate for educators across the state. She currently serves as HSTA Molokai Chapter secretary and is a former chapter president, and is a key member of the association’s Negotiations Committee and Team and the Educator Effectiveness System Joint Committee with the Hawaii State Department of Education.

Mokuau helped pave the way for Molokai High School’s maximum six-year accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and co-wrote a five-year, $1 million grant to develop the Molokai LIVE 21st Century Community Learning Center, which provides homework assistance and enrichment activities for middle and high school students.

“If not for the tremendous support from my peers and the strength of relationships developed through shared efforts, I would not be standing here,” Mokuau said. “In accepting this award, I am representing all of us, our schools and our futures as shaped by our students. This is why we are here. This is what we do. This is our purpose, and we cannot do it alone. This is why I am involved with HSTA and represent the sum total of everyone who has influenced, taught and supported me.”

The S.T.A.C.Y. Award for Teaching Excellence was established to celebrate the outstanding work of the late Stacy Nishina, a public school teacher, longtime HSTA staff member and supporter of all HSTA state candidates for the NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence. Each year, a winner is chosen based on his or her ability to demonstrate leadership, dedication and passion in five categories: scholarship, teaching, advocacy, community and youth.

With this award, Mokuau becomes HSTA’s nominee for the NEA Foundation’s 2020 Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence and NEA Member Benefits Award.

Current and former Molokai Chapter presidents at HSTA's 2019 State Convention (from left): Lokelani Han, Diane Mokuau, Inga Park Okuna and Daryl Fujino.