Two Maui Educators Finalists for Hawaiʻi Teacher of the Year

October 27, 2019, 10:43 AM HST · Updated October 27, 10:43 AM

  • Jessica Adkins and Kaui Spitalsky were among the 13 finalists for this yearʻs state Teacher of the Year Award.

Adkins is a teacher at Maui High School, while Spitalsky teaches at Lahainaluna High School.

  • Both were gifted $600 each, along with all of the other finalists, during an award ceremony on Friday afternoon at Washington Place.

Cecilia Chung, a teacher at Kaʻimiloa Elementary School on Oʻahu, received the top honor.

Chung will represent Hawaiʻi in the National Teacher of the Year program in Washington, D.C.

The recognition is presented annually to a classroom teacher selected from more than 11,000 educators within the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education (HIDOE).


“CC is a passionate educator who has an ability to elevate and inspire those around her,” superintendent Christina Kishimoto said in a press release.

“Whether she’s helping to produce the next generation of leaders in her classroom, or mentoring our future teacher leaders here at the Department, CC continues to leave an indelible mark on our community through her hard work. We look forward to following CC’s achievements as she continues to inspire those around her to deliver on the power and promise of public education.”

Here is a list of the other finalists:

  • Kai Ah Hee, Honokaʻa-Kealakehe-Kohala-Konawaena Complex, West Hawaiʻi District Office.
  • Courtney Carpenter, Farrington-Kaiser-Kalani Complex, Waikīkī Elementary. 
  • Dustin Chang, ʻAiea-Moanalua-Radford Complex, Pearl Harbor Elementary.
  • Celeste Endo, Kaimukī-McKinley-Roosevelt Complex, Queen Ka‘ahumanu Elementary. 
  • Taylor Flett, Leilehua-Mililani-Waialua Complex, Wheeler Middle.
  • Zoe Ingerson, Public Charter Schools, School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability (SEEQS).
  • Nikki Morishige, Castle-Kahuku Complex, Waiāhole Elementary. 
  • Megan Nii, Kauai Complex, Wilcox Elementary.
  • Russell Rapoza, Kaʻū-Keaʻau-Pāhoa Complex, Kea‘au High.
  • Ululani Russo, Nānākuli-Waiʻanae Complex, Waiʻanae Intermediate.
  • Kathy Sewake, Hilo-Waiākea Complex, Waiākea Elementary.
  • Crystal Stafford, Kailua-Kalāheo Complex, Kalāheo High.
  • Jennifer Yamaguchi, Pearl City-Waipahu Complex, Pearl City Highlands Elementary.



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