In a turbulent year, Hawai‘i’s top teachers honored

Posted on Oct 28, 2020 in Capitol Connection, Featured
A virtual group photo of the finalists, along with Governor and Mrs. Ige, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and last year’s winner Cecilia “CC” Chung.

A virtual group photo of the finalists, along with Governor and Mrs. Ige, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and last year’s winner Cecilia “CC” Chung.

If ever there was a year to be thankful for teachers, it’s this year. The pandemic has meant everyone — students, parents, and teachers — have had to adapt in ways like never before.  All of this made the Hawai‘i Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year Awards that much more meaningful as 16 finalists statewide were honored in the first-ever virtual ceremony.

2021 Hawai‘i Teacher of the Year Lori Kwee.

2021 Hawai‘i Teacher of the Year Lori Kwee.

This year’s winner, Lori Kwee, a 4th grade teacher at Ala Wai Elementary, was recognized for fostering student leadership through community-based projects, a nationally recognized anti-bullying campaign and helping promote gratitude and kindness in her students as ambassadors of aloha. Other teachers were praised for their passion and dedication to their fields — whether it was in science and technology, sustainability, cultural literacy, civic engagement or community service. But they all had one thing in common: a love of their profession as teachers shaping the future leaders of our state. Kwee will represent Hawai‘i next spring in Washington, D.C.

Governor and Mrs. Ige shared their congratulations from Washington Place.

Governor and Mrs. Ige shared their congratulations from Washington Place.

Governor and Mrs. Ige, who usually host the awards ceremony at Washington Place, congratulated the finalists virtually and praised all teachers for meeting the challenge of the pandemic. “Some things don’t change, and that includes our teachers’ devotion to our students and our appreciation of our teachers.” As a former teacher herself, Mrs. Ige said, “COVID-19 has presented numerous challenges for our families. You all somehow found the grace and the grit to innovate and inspire.” DOE Superintendent Christina Kishimoto added, “Our teachers are heroes in the classroom and in their communities. These teachers have ensured that our haumana continued to learn, develop and grow, no matter how difficult and unpredictable the circumstance.” To watch the ceremony and hear from all the finalists, visit the Hawai‘i Public Schools’  Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HIDOE808/.

Read more in the November Capitol Connection newsletter

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