Members at James Campbell High highlight Rosenlee’s impact, accomplishments

Member educators at James Campbell High School in Ewa Beach pay tribute to HSTA President Corey Rosenlee, who taught social studies there for nine years before taking the helm of HSTA. His colleagues reflect on his impact as a leader at the school and across the state.

Christine Russo, science teacher and former HSTA teacher lobbyist:

“Long before Corey was elected president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, he was out in front of issues facing our keiki and teachers. Prior to becoming a certified teacher, I worked as a substitute teacher and often subbed at Campbell High. I recognized Corey immediately from seeing him regularly on the local news, fighting for such issues as cooling our classrooms. When I was hired full-time, I experienced first-hand the challenges of teaching in a sweltering hot classroom. My students fought over fans, or were too drained to keep their heads up for the day’s lesson. Eight years later, we’ve made great progress in cooling classrooms across the state, including 100-percent of our classrooms at JCHS. This is most certainly a result of Corey’s advocacy in bringing this issue to the attention of policymakers.

After being elected HSTA president in 2015, Corey continued to fiercely advocate for students and teachers. In 2017, he led a march to the state Capitol, where thousands of teachers filled the Capitol rotunda in a sea of red demanding competitive pay. Shortly thereafter, HSTA negotiated the 2017–21 contract, which included a nearly 14-percent pay hike over four years.

Over the next several years, Corey continued to advocate for increased funding and support for public education and educators, including a multifaceted, solution-oriented approach to end Hawaii’s teacher shortage crisis. This HSTA initiative started to make promising gains for educators until the coronavirus pandemic triggered a statewide lockdown in March 2020.

Though the pandemic caused chaos and confusion, Corey kept us updated and informed through public live streams of briefings and news conferences. He explained our ever-changing working conditions and the steps HSTA took to ensure the safety and well-being of our teachers and keiki.

As the pandemic progressed and economic fallout ensued, Corey fiercely fought against proposed furloughs and pay cuts that would have further eroded our teacher workforce and deepened the teacher shortage crisis in our state. Corey’s leadership allowed our union to accomplish great things. He inspires teachers and moves us to action.

Corey, we at James Campbell High School, and schools across the state, thank you for all you have done for us over the past six years. While we are sorry to see you go, we can’t wait to see what you’ll accomplish next. For now, we look forward to seeing you back in action in the classroom here as JCHS.”

Kim Virtudazo, freshman ELA teacher and Freshman Success Academy lead:

“Corey changed HSTA and brought back pride in being in this union. For the years he was president, and even before that, Corey fought for teachers and students.”

Dr. Rick Yamashiro and Eleyne Fia, college and career counselors:

“Corey, thank you for taking care of us throughout all these years! Over the last year and a half [during the pandemic], you not only made sure we teachers and students were safe and remembered, you also took care of our families as well. Your fight and dedication won’t be forgotten!”

Anthony McCurdy, photography teacher and Creative Media Academy lead:

“I had the pleasure of working with Corey Rosenlee through HSTA and spent my entire time teaching here in Hawaii with him as our president. I always felt that Corey had the best interests of teachers, students, and our communities at heart, and I greatly appreciate the hard work and time he spent toiling on our behalf. Corey was also incredibly welcoming and open to new ideas or discussions. I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to spend time with him here at Campbell as a teacher, because I think he would have been fun to work with as a colleague. Since I am leaving Hawaii, I will miss having Corey as a leader (though I know HSTA is in good hands with Osa at the helm) and I wish Corey the very best in whatever he does in the future!”