Maui News

Kamaliʻi Elementary School principal honored with PBL Champion of the Year award

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Cynthia “Cyndi” Rothdeutsch, the principal of Kamaliʻi Elementary School in Kīhei, Hawaiʻi. PC: courtesy.

Kamaliʻi Elementary School principal, Cynthia “Cyndi” Rothdeutsch, was recognized as the Project Based Learning Champion of the Year by PBL Works in Napa, California.

The prestigious national award acknowledges Rothdeutsch’s outstanding contributions to education and her dedication to implementing project-based learning or PBL in her school.

With an impressive career spanning 33 years within the Hawaiʻi state Department of Education, Rothdeutsch has served in various roles, including classroom teacher, computer resource teacher, technology coordinator, vice principal and now principal. Throughout her career, she has consistently emphasized the importance of 21st-century skills in education, according to the announcement.

In 2017, during her first year as principal, Rothdeutsch had the opportunity to participate in PBL training provided by the Buck Institute, now known as PBLWorks. This training helped her recognize the benefits of PBL and its alignment with 21st-century skills. Since then, she has made it a priority to deepen her understanding of PBL and share her passion and knowledge with her staff and students.

Cynthia “Cyndi” Rothdeutsch, the principal of Kamaliʻi Elementary School in Kīhei, Hawaiʻi. PC: courtesy.

Rothdeutsch’s vision for Kamaliʻi Elementary School is to establish a culture of high-quality project-based learning for all students. She aims to create authentic, integrated learning experiences that equip students with the necessary skills to thrive in the workforce. By implementing PBL, she seeks to foster critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity among her students, according to school administrators.

Under Rothdeutsch’s leadership, Kamaliʻi teachers and students have been actively partnering with community members to explore real-world, authentic units of study. These units revolve around driving questions such as “How can observing the natural world help us find solutions to human problems?”, “How can we reduce the amount of marine debris entering our oceans?” and “How can I help people in my school community stay safe during severe weather?” Throughout these units, students are given voice and choice in demonstrating their understanding and learning, using inquiry as a guiding principle, administrators said.

“Through her dedication to PBL and her commitment to fostering 21st-century skills, Cyndi Rothdeutsch has made a significant impact on the educational experience at Kamaliʻi Elementary School. Her innovative approach and emphasis on authentic, real-world learning have transformed the school into a hub of active engagement and meaningful education,” according to school administrators.


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