A bright spot: Milken winner Cacace promotes creativity, compassionPosted 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.”