UH Hilo Master of Arts in Teaching program addresses state’s shortage of teachers

The UH Hilo Master of Arts in Teaching program prepares graduate students to become teachers in the state of Hawai‘i. 

By Lara Hughes.

Current Master of Arts in Teaching cohort poses for photo at the Annual Teacher Candidate Reception held in May. Balloons, lei and smiles.
Master of Arts in Teaching cohort poses for photo at the Annual Teacher Candidate Reception held in May. Of these 24 MAT students to complete year-one this past spring, 23 are currently employed as teachers in the state. This cohort started the MAT program in summer 2015 and are scheduled to graduate in May 2017. Click photos to enlarge.

In response the state’s shortage of teachers, the School of Education at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo offers a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree program. The two-year program prepares students to become teachers in the state of Hawai‘i who can create “supportive environments based on their knowledge of learner development and learning differences.”

Michele Ebersole
Michele Ebersole

“The MAT teacher preparation program fills the critical teacher shortage in our state,” says Michele Ebersole, professor of education and chair of the education department.

After the first year in the MAT program (three semesters), students can apply for teacher licensure with the Hawaiʻi Teacher Standards Board.

Of the 24 MAT students to complete year-one this past spring, 23 of them are currently employed as teachers in the state:

  • Elementary:
    • Rebecca Akiona – Keonepoko Elementary School.
    • Corey Bell – Konawaena Elementary School.
    • Tani Chamberlin – Kealakehe Elementary School.
    • Chanell Crawford – Kamaile Academy Public Charter School.
    • Cecile Daquioag – Ka‘u Elementary School.
    • Dayna Ganigan – Mt. View Elementary School.
    • Asia Harman – Keaukaha Elementary School.
    • Nicole Harrison – Hilo Union Elementary School.
    • Kathrine Hu – Keonepoko Elementary School.
    • Kevyn-Bren Inouye – Mt. View Elementary School.
    • Peter Kim – Kalanianaole Elementary School.
    • Shanda Lee – Keonepoko Elementary School.
    • Olivia Long – Pahoa Elementary School.
    • Shyanne Matsumoto – Keonepoko Elementary School.
    • Erik Onishi – Mt. View Elementary School.
    • Nicole Shigenaga – Kea‘au Elementary School.
    • Andrea Stroescu – Mt. View Elementary School.
    • Channa Uyetake – Pahoa Elementary School.
  • Secondary Science:
    • Elizabeth Clemens – Roosevelt High School.
  • Secondary English Language Arts:
    • Karl Hennen (opted to study for a Teaching English as a Second Language certificate this year).
  • Placement in Secondary Math:
    • Laura Pereira – Ka‘u High School.
    • Dawn Hess –  McKinley High School.
    • Carri Wissman – Hilo Intermediate School.
  • Placement in Secondary Science:
    • Amber Fontes – Waiakea Intermediate.

The second year of the graduate program (two semesters) completes the Master of Arts in Teaching degree.

The MAT program was developed four years ago and is currently a candidate for national accreditation with the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation. CAEP advances teacher preparation “through evidence-based accreditation that assures quality and supports continuous improvement to strengthen P-12 student learning.”

Community outreach

Community outreach and hands-on experience is an important aspect of the UH Hilo MA in teaching program. Coursework is integrated with fieldwork and, in the first year, individual students are required to complete over 700 field hours.

“Students spend time observing practices in the summer and begin teaching during the fall semester,” says Ebersole. “They engage in full-time student teaching during the spring semester.”

As undergraduates at UH Hilo, before entering the master’s program, the cohort spends volunteer time with K–12 students in a variety of educational settings.

In addition, several of the courses offered allow the graduate students the opportunity to tutor K–12 students by working one-on-one with individual students or by teaching in small groups. Ebersole says this helps them decide if teaching is the right profession and builds early professional knowledge for those who intend to work toward their teaching certification. It also provides service to the local and educational communities.

Last fall, members of the Hawai‘i Island Retired Teachers Association visited UH Hilo for a “talk story” session with the MAT cohort. The retirees have a long history of support for the UH Hilo School of Education.

The School of Education, in collaboration with the Big Island Council of Teachers of English, also hosts annual workshops and professional development activities to help support teacher development in literacy practices.

Master of Arts in Teaching cohort in their master degree sashes, spring 2015
Alumni: In spring 2015, the first cohort of the Master of Arts in Teaching program poses wearing their master degree sashes that show their completion of the master degree program. The cohort started the program in summer 2013 and graduated in May 2015. Photo courtesy of the UH Hilo School of Education, click to enlarge.
Cohort with sashes on.
This is the second cohort of the MAT program. This group started their graduate studies in summer 2014, and graduated in May 2016. Photo courtesy of the School of Education.

Alumni from the program teach in private, public and charter schools and some have earned the distinction of being National Board Certified Teachers, while many others serve as local administrators.

More photos of the Annual MAT Teacher Candidate Reception held in May 2016, click to enlarge:



The priority deadline for MAT applications for the 2017-2018 academic year is Dec. 15, 2016.

UH Hilo undergraduates interested in becoming elementary or secondary teachers can contact Professor Ebersole to schedule an appointment to discuss the graduate program.


About the author of this story: Lara Hughes (senior, business administration) is a public information intern in the Office of the Chancellor.

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