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Award-winning teachers help students dream big

Posted on Mar 29, 2018 in Featured


Waialua's Glenn Lee

Waialua’s Glenn Lee

On a bigger stage, Hawai‘i’s teachers can compete with the best. The truth of that came through loud and clear in recent months as three of the state’s outstanding teachers received national and international recognition for their work with students. They include Waialua High’s Glenn Lee, who helped spur Hawai‘i’s robotics movement. Lee was the only American to reach the top 10 as a finalist out of 30,000 entries from 173 countries for the $1 million Global Teacher Prize from the Varkey Foundation. The award is intended to elevate the role of teachers in society. Lee launched the state’s first organized robotics program in 1999 and has helped students from the small plantation town dream big — aspiring to engineering and other professional careers.




Stevenson's Patricia Morgan

Stevenson’s Patricia Morgan

Stevenson Middle School’s Patricia Morgan won a $100,000 grant from Farmers Insurance to develop an Imaginarium, a dedicated learning space for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Morgan is one of only five teachers nationwide and the first ever from Hawai‘i to receive the prize. The project will connect feeder elementary schools and nearby Roosevelt High School as students collaborate on engineering design, coding and computer mentoring.





'Aiea's Ken Kang with Gov. Ige.

‘Aiea’s Ken Kang with Gov. Ige.

‘Aiea High’s Ken Kang received the prestigious Milken Educator Award — called the “Oscars of teaching” — and $25,000 for his work with students and teachers in STEM courses and as the school’s technology guru. He is a an ‘Aiea grad and former electrical engineer who helps the seven schools in the ‘Aiea complex improve their communication systems and computer software.






One of the UH posters for the "Be a hero. Be a teacher" campaign.

One of the UH posters for the “Be a hero. Be a teacher” campaign.

Growing our own heroes Two campaigns to tackle Hawai‘i’s teacher shortage are underway to highlight the rewards of the classroom and to help local talent earn teaching credentials.
The “Grow Our Own Teachers” pilot program, introduced by Sen. Michelle Kidani and supported by Governor Ige, is a partnership between the DOE and UH. The program provides scholarships to DOE employees who are emergency hires, substitute teachers or educational assistants so they can earn statewide teaching certification from the UH College of Education in grades 6 to 12.

The second is a multi-media campaign called “Be a hero. Be a teacher” that shows the pathways available to gain teaching credentials at UH Mānoa, UH Hilo, UH West O‘ahu and Leeward Community College. The campaign was developed by educators from the four campuses who worked with Kai Media and Marketing. For more details, go to for the “Grow Our Own” initiative or for “Be a Hero.”

Read more in April Capitol Connection newsletter