Hawaii’s Teacher of the Year recognized for creativity, holding high expectations for our keiki

Samson Kaala Reiny

MANOA—This November, as we decide whether to have our members of the State Board of Education elected or appointed by the governor, it’s important to remember where the real action happens for our keiki—the classroom. And it’s the examples set by some of Hawaii’s most gifted educators that parents, teachers, and board members need to pay attention too. Six teachers from each district were recently recognized by the Board of Education for holding high expectations for Hawaii’s children and for being particularly creative in the classroom. The Board of Education awarded the State Teacher of the Year honors last week to Kristen Brummel, a fourth grade teacher at Noelani Elementary School.

Brummel, a National Board Certified Teacher, introduced Noelani’s fourth graders to “A World of Discovery,” a place where students are constantly encouraged to think, ask questions, and search for answers. She credits her grandfather as her greatest teacher.

“A classroom should be a place where students show one another mutual respect and kindness, and where they celebrate each other’s individuality as they learn from and grow together,” Brummel said.

It’s been Brummel strategy inside and out of the classroom “to inspire children and instill the confidence in them that will help them realize that they are all capable of amazing things.”

Brummel is now eligible for National Teacher of the Year honors, which is awarded every April.

The Polynesian Cultural Center, a 25-year sponsor of the TOY awards, gifted Brummel with $1000 while six runners’ up each received $500. The SMARTer Kids Foundation awarded her new classroom technology while the others received free educational software. Brummel was also gifted with one-year’s free lease of a new hybrid vehicle by the Hawai Automobile Dealers’ Association. 

The runners up, who are District Teachers of the Year, are:

Alisa Bender—Leeward Oahu District, James Campbell High
Michelle Colte—Central Oahu District, Hale Kula Elementary
Deborah Yasuda—Windward Oahu District, Puohala Elementary
Sandy Cameli—Hawaii District, Konawaena Middle
Scot Kiyonaga—Maui District, Maui Waena Intermediate
Althea Kalei Arinaga—Kauai District, Kapaa Elementary