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UH Hilo honors trio of graduates from Teacher Education Program

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Date: Tuesday, May 28, 2002
Contact: Dr. Alice Kawakami, (808) 974-7748

For Immediate Release

Three University of Hawai`i at Hilo Teacher Education Program graduates received outstanding achievement awards during the program's recognition ceremonies held May 17, 2002 at the UH Hilo Campus Center Dining Room.

Lisa Haunga was honored as the 2001-2002 Outstanding Teacher Candidate from the Elementary Cohort. Haunga has been recommended for a license to teach at the elementary level. She earned a B.A. in liberal studies from UH Hilo in May 2001.

Exemplary in course work, Haunga brought creativity and excellence to the classroom, where she developed a close rapport with her students. Her hands-on approach to teaching stirred her students' passion for learning, while inspiring them to be their best.

Kristi Clay and Katherine Mendes were named co-winners of the 2001-2002 Outstanding Teacher Candidate from the Secondary Cohort.

Clay, who works in the medium of agricultural science, is described as a vivid, joyful and compassionate teacher. She has been recommended for a license to teach agriculture at the secondary level. Clay earned a B.S. in agriculture with a minor in biology from UH Hilo in December 1999.

"Kristi is a dream educator. She was always well prepared, greeted each student by name and developed lively and rigorous activities to teach them about the natural world, the world of pesticides and the world of opportunity during her student teaching," said Dr. Alice Kawakami, associate professor of education and chair of the Education Department.

Mendes, whose student teaching took her to both intermediate and high school, taught nearly 300 students. She has been recommended for a license to teach English at the secondary level. Mendes earned a B.A. in English from UH Hilo in May 2001.

A tireless worker, Mendes consistently sought to make the study of English literature and composition relevant to the lives of her teenage students. Her personalized approach is credited with reaching her students in ways that will affect them for years to come.

UH Hilo teacher candidates enter the rigorous one-year program after having already earned an undergraduate degree. In addition to course work, candidates are paired with cooperating teachers within local elementary or secondary schools to gain practical experience in the field.

"Lisa, Kristi and Katherine have excelled in both course work and student teaching," said Kawakami. "These three have stood out among a class of achievers, which makes their accomplishments all the more significant."

In addition to the outstanding teacher candidates, the department honored two cooperating teachers. Joy Hirayama of Chiefess Kapi`olani Elementary School was named the Outstanding Cooperating teacher from the Elementary Cohort. Scott Roberts of Waiakea High School was selected as the Outstanding Cooperating Teacher from the Secondary Cohort.

Hirayama, a fourth grade teacher, inspires her teacher candidates to develop their own voices in teaching by taking risks and exploring new ideas. "While encouraging individual initiative, Joy is always there to provide support and guidance, by making herself available before, during and after class including weekends," said Marcia Miller, instructor of education on behalf of Hirayama's past and present student teachers.

Roberts, an English teacher at Waiakea High School, is described as a perfect model of creativity and strength for all of his teacher candidates. A solid and steady mentor, Roberts' gentle demeanor instills a quiet confidence in those he has helped guide into the teaching profession.

The names of the outstanding teacher candidate award winners will be engraved on the perpetual plaques for each respective category. Each recipient will also receive a gift certificate for books from the bookstore of their choice, made possible through a monetary award provided by the Rotary Club of Hilo Bay. Club president Richard Cunningham and incoming president Nathan Chang participated in the festivities by presenting the awards to the outstanding educators.

The program graduated 38 teacher candidates this semester: 16 in elementary education and 22 in secondary education. Despite the current state of the economy, Kawakami says the statewide teacher shortage bodes well for new teachers who are willing to teach in rural communities.

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