Gonzales Named HI Teacher of the Year Finalist

By Jack Kiyonaga, Editor 

Photo courtesy of HIDOE.

Among the 13,000 Hawaii Dept. of Education (HIDOE) educators, 15 were chosen as Teacher of the Year finalists. Kaunakakai School fifth grade teacher Kawika Gonzales was one of those select few. 

“A recognition like this reassures me that great things are continuing to happen on Molokai. It lets me know that I’ve had amazing teachers growing up on Molokai,” said Gonzales.

“We have outstanding teachers today that I work with, and I see the potential of amazing teachers in the future through our students,” Gonzales explained. “I am thankful for my family, friends, and island who continue to support me. It truly takes a village to raise a child. This is a recognition for our island and our community.”

Gonzales is the only teacher from Molokai to be chosen as a finalist, and one of only three educators in Maui County to be nominated. 

A proponent of integrating technology, STEM and computer science in the classroom, Gonzales has used robotics, rockets, computer design, video editing, 3D printing and virtual reality in classroom instruction. In this past year, Gonzales, who is also the computer science coordinator and math chairperson for Kaunakakai School, and his students were featured on KITV4 and Hawaii News Now, spotlighting students’ virtual reality and computer science projects. 

“These outstanding educators have an unwavering dedication and passion for high-quality teaching and learning,” HIDOE Superintendent Keith Hayashi said. “We are proud to recognize them as true embodiments of what it means to be an exceptional educator, and are grateful for the creative and innovative ways in which they engage their students, colleagues and communities on a daily basis.”

The winner of the Hawaii Teacher of the Year award will be announced in October and will go on to represent Hawaii in the National Teacher of the Year program.


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