Three Hawaii educators, including one on the Big Island, received a surprise $10,000 cash award and a beautiful koa paddle for being the winners of the inaugural Alaka‘ina (Leadership) Awards, which were announced at the Educational Leadership Institute held at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu on July 19.
The Harold K.L. Castle Foundation established the award to recognize educational leaders at or above the complex area superintendent level who have made some of the most significant contributions to the K-12 public education system in Hawaii. This is the first award to recognize leaders above the school level who have worked to transform the educational system.
“The award recipients are distinguished educational leaders who value and focus on learning, act strategically and take action,” said Mitch D’Olier, president and CEO of the foundation, in remarks before the awards were presented.
“They are the catalysts for positive change and understand the implementation considerations necessary to drive transformation and improve student learning. They invest in building the capacity of their people to sustain the effort, and they promote and inspire excellence.”
An independent review committee considered all complex area superintendents, assistant superintendents and the deputy superintendent for the awards given for significant contributions to Hawaii’s Education Reform Agenda from Jan. 1, 2010, through June 30, 2012.
The committee unanimously selected three recipients. They are Mary Correa, the Ka‘u-Keaau-Pahoa Complex area superintendent; Stephen Schatz, assistant superintendent for the Office of Strategic Reform, and Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe.
When Correa’s complex area was named a “Zone of School Innovation” in 2010, Correa embraced the opportunity to coordinate and integrate support for the schools and students to accelerate achievement. Under her strong leadership skills, she rallied complex leaders and built a system of support for teachers and leaders. As the latest test scores show, Ka‘u-Keaau-Pahoa has made significant gains.
Schatz played a significant role in leading change management for the Hawaii Department of Education. He assumed leadership of the Office of Strategic Reform in July 2011 as the state’s $75 million Race to the Top grant entered its second year.
Over the last year, Schatz worked tirelessly to improve the grant’s progress. He has also provided the necessary leadership and support to ensure timely and relevant implementation, restore confidence and ensure the effective use of federal resources in Hawaii’s improvement initiatives.
Nozoe brings a school-level sensibility to the ambitious reform initiatives based on his experiences as an effective teacher, principal and complex area superintendent. In addition to having the responsibility as the department’s chief academic officer, Nozoe is also the project sponsor for the Race to the Top projects, such as the Zones of School Innovation.
He has devoted a significant amount of time in the zone schools, including meeting teachers from every zone school to explain performance evaluation and develop teachers’ understanding. Nozoe has also led successful negotiations with the Hawaii State Teachers Association for a supplemental agreement on Extended Learning Time.
“We want to thank the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation for its long-standing belief that leadership is one of the crucial factors in education reform,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “This year’s award winners are truly outstanding leaders who are committed to transforming our public education system in Hawaii.”
Before the announcement of the Alaka‘ina Awards, the Hawaii Business Roundtable gave the Department of Education a high-tech boost to support the teacher evaluation pilot program for the 2012-2013 school year. The Roundtable purchased three Apple iPads for each of the 64 schools that volunteered to join the pilot program — a donation worth nearly $100,000. The Castle Foundation provided the Roundtable with a grant of $2,700 for this purpose. The Department successfully completed the first year of the pilot program in 18 schools in the Zones of School Innovation (Nanakuli-Waianae and Ka‘u-Keaau-Pahoa complex areas). The Castle Foundation, the largest private foundation headquartered in Hawaii, is committed to closing the achievement and preparation gaps in public education so that all of Hawaii’s children have access to high-quality, pre-K-12 education that prepares them for success in college, career and citizenship. Its grants also focus on restoring nearshore marine ecosystems and strengthening Windward Oahu communities.