National award shines spotlight on Ewa Beach teacher

A ceremony was held today at Cynthia Tong's school to honor her amazing work in the classroom

“I always advise new teachers to be open to opportunities for self-development and self-care, as well as opportunities for their students and fellow teachers,” said Cynthia Tong. “A great educator teaches everyone, every day, in many small ways.”

Tong, an eighth grade social studies educator at Ewa Makai Middle School in Ewa Beach, will receive the NEA Foundation’s prestigious Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence, recognition as one of the nation’s top educators, and $10,000. The award honors five educators each year for their diligence and dedication to students, colleagues, community, and profession. She was honored at a ceremony Friday at her school in Ewa, with her husband and daughter, who's a substitute teacher, present.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association, a National Education Association affiliate, nominated Tong for the award.

"Cindy has been a leader in every school where she's taught. She's also been an agent for change not only for the keiki in her school but for all the keiki in Hawaii," said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee. 

Watch HSTA's interview with Tong when she was awarded the union's S.T.A.C.Y. Teaching Excellence award in April.

Tong serves on HSTA's Board of Directors, representing teachers in its largest chapter: Leeward Oahu.

She will be celebrated at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Awards Gala on Feb. 8 by more than 850 leaders in public education, philanthropic and business sectors, in Washington, D.C., and by many more viewers online. Students, colleagues, peers and family members of awardees host viewing parties to watch live streaming video of the program at home as awardees from across the nation are recognized. 

“These five educators kindle ideas, open minds, nurture confidence, and build community. They keep the promise of public education by growing the hearts and minds of their students, preparing them for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “By honoring them with this award, we thank them and all the public school educators they represent, who work tirelessly on behalf of their students, schools, and communities.”

“So many teachers go above and beyond to serve the needs of their students, and these five educators are great examples of what it takes to excel in the classroom,” said Marita Zuraitis, President and CEO of Horace Mann. “As a company serving educators’ financial needs for more than 70 years, Horace Mann is pleased to honor these educators for playing an instrumental role in educating the children of our future.”  

Tong’s students will help produce a video honoring their teacher, which will premiere at the gala.

The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from NEA Member Benefits, the Horace Mann Companies and California Casualty.


Author: Keoki Kerr

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