Maui Teacher Recognized in Washington DC

September 9, 2016, 9:37 AM HST · Updated September 9, 9:40 AM
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(Left to right) Alicia Nakamitsu, Bryan Silver, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Eliza Yoshida, Stan Mesina

(Left to right) Alicia Nakamitsu, Bryan Silver, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Eliza Yoshida, Stan Mesina

Today in Washington, DC, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard recognized Hawaiʻi teachers selected for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and presented them with a Congressional certificate.

Five Hawaiʻi teachers were among the 213 math and science teachers around the country selected for the award, including Pu’u Kukui Elementary School teacher Eliza Yoshida.

Other 2016 Hawaiʻi awardees include: Alicia Nakamitsu, Aiea High School; Stan Mesina, August Ahrens Elementary School; Bryan Silver, Kalani High School; and Patricia Urasky, Waimea High School.

Yoshida has been teaching for 13 years and in 2013, helped to open Puʻu Kukui Elementary in Wailuku, where she is currently a curriculum coordinator, and established the school’s Math Matters competition team.

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She has taught fourth and fifth grade and was a State STEM Math Resource Teacher, providing professional development to teachers throughout Hawaiʻi.

Under Yoshida’s guidance, students work collaboratively while asking questions of themselves and each other.   As “mathematical thinkers,” they are able to “persevere in solving problems.”

Yoshida has a B.A. in sociology and a B.A. in American ethnic studies from the University of Washington. She has a M.Ed. in elementary education from the University of Phoenix and is certified to teach kindergarten through sixth grade elementary education.

“Being named a Presidential Award recipient is overwhelmingly gratifying and humbling,” Yoshida said. “This award validates the accomplishment of my personal goals — the same goals I set forth for my students: to set high standards, to be a lifelong learner, to reflect on learning, and to work hard and persevere. This award also represents the never-ending journey of an educator — growth through continuous learning, reflection, and refinement of our craft while always striving for excellence,” she said.

As a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching award recipient, Yoshida gets $10,000 from the National Science Foundation and a trip to Washington D.C. to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities.

The PAEMST is awarded to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country. The winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process at the state level.

Awards were given to K-12 teachers from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity schools, and the US territories as a group (American Samoa, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands).

Each awardee received a citation signed by President Obama, a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, and travel to Washington, DC for an award ceremony held yesterday.

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