A bright spot: Milken winner Cacace promotes creativity, compassion

Posted on Mar 28, 2020 in Capitol Connection, Featured

There wasn’t a red carpet at Ewa Makai Middle School, but in the eyes of her students and colleagues, Miki Cacace is every bit a star. As Hawai‘i’s 2020 Milken Educator award winner — called the “Oscars” of teaching — Cacace received the surprise of her life and $25,000 March 10 for her dedication to her profession. She is one of 40 teachers across the nation who was honored.

Cacace, a computer coding teacher, was praised for the creativity and compassion she brings to the classroom. “Her students love her because she’s very kind and patient,” said a colleague. She has been teaching in the state’s public schools since 2008 and gives her students hands-on training in developing games, apps and websites to show them the real-world possibilities of coding skills and STEM careers.

She also created a website that colleagues can use to develop a “caring culture” for their classes. As she told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, “The students that give you the most challenge are the ones that need the most love,” she said. “The reason I became a teacher is because I wanted to make a difference. In middle school we get to make that difference because they’re trying to learn who they are and what they’re about.”

Ewa Makai Middle School teacher Miki Cacace with Governor and Mrs. Ige, and (from left) district superintendent Sean Tajima, principal Kim Sandes, Hawai’i Board of Education chair Catherine Payne and state superintendent Christina Kishimoto.

Ewa Makai Middle School teacher Miki Cacace with Governor and Mrs. Ige, and (from left) district superintendent Sean Tajima, principal Kim Sandes, Hawai’i Board of Education chair Catherine Payne and state superintendent Christina Kishimoto.

Governor and Mrs. Ige with Milken winner Miki Cacace.

Governor and Mrs. Ige with Milken winner Miki Cacace.

Read more in the April Capitol Connection newsletter

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