Maui’s Brandon Arakawa was named Maui District Teacher of the Year as part of the annual recognition and awards issued by the state Department of Education. Arakawa is a teacher at Kahului Elementary School.
He is among a list of seven District Teachers of the Year and one Charter School Teacher of the Year across the state who were recognized for their exceptional performance.
Kealakehe Intermediate School teacher Mathieu Williams received the state’s top teaching award, the 2019 Hawaiʻi State Teacher of the Year award, from Governor David Ige and Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto during a ceremony held at Washington Place.
The honor is presented annually to a classroom teacher selected from more than 11,000 educators within the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education.
In addition to Arakawa and Williams, Hawaiʻi’s District Teachers of the Year honored were:
- Shane Albritton, Public Charter Schools, School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability
- Sean Doi, Kauai District, Kauai Complex Area Office
- Sam Hankins, Honolulu District, Prince David Kawananakoa Middle School
- Gail Izumigawa, Leeward District, Waipahu High School
- Mary Ann Kurose, Central District, Radford High School
- Debbie Morrow, Windward District, Kailua Elementary School
“Mathieu’s passion and dedication has accelerated Kealakehe Intermediate’s technology and digital media program into a very popular focus among his students and has developed them into a nationally competitive team in two short years,” said Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto. “His collaborative work to improve education through the sharing of best practices among his fellow Hawaii District teachers and community-based education programs has been truly inspiring. Mathieu has done amazing work to energize his students, his school and his community, and we look forward to even greater achievements from him in the future.”
Williams will represent Hawaiʻi in the National Teacher of the Year program. Each April, the President of the United States announces the national winner. The recent Teacher of the Year ceremony included:
- A $500 award to each District Teacher of the Year by The Polynesian Cultural Center, the Teacher of the Year program’s corporate sponsor for over 30 years, and an additional $1,000 award to the State Teacher of the Year
- A one-year lease of a new Nissan Leaf courtesy of the Hawaiʻi Automobile Dealers Association and Nissan Hawaiʻi to the State Teacher of the Year
Williams joined the DOE family in 2016 and currently serves as the technology and digital media teacher at Kealakehe Intermediate. His achievements include leading his media students to the 15th annual Student Television Network National Convention in Nashville to learn from media professionals, participate in contests and hone their production skills. The convention, known for its demanding on-site competitions, gives students a limited time to shoot and produce high-quality video features, and the team earned a first place award for a Spot Feature and third place award for a Movie Trailer among dozens of competing schools.
Williams also led his media students on a trip to Honolulu to train with digital media professionals at PBS Hawaii and to host the Hiki No education program.
At HIDOE, Williams led coordination efforts for the inaugural West Hawai‘i Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching conference, designed to spotlight teacher leaders in West Hawai‘i and share their experiences and best practices. The event was an incredible success, and teachers left feeling inspired, equipped, and connected, as part of a larger community of educators. He is also very involved in different community based programs and has worked closely with the Hope Street Group and Kamehameha Schools.