Hawaii DOE | Whitney Aragaki of Waiakea High School named Hawaii State Teacher of the Year 2022


The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) today named Waiākea High School teacher Whitney Aragaki as the Hawaii State Teacher of the Year in 2022. Aragaki received the state’s top teaching award from Governor David Ige and Acting Superintendent Keith Hayashi at a virtual awards ceremony this afternoon.

Aragaki will represent Hawai’i in the National Teacher of the Year program. The honor is bestowed annually on a teacher selected from over 13,000 HIDOE educators. Aragaki was among the 15 Complex Zone Teacher of the Year and the Charter Schools Teacher of the Year was recognized today.

“Whitney’s innovative approach to teaching provides students with meaningful cultural and place-based learning opportunities that are both rigorous and relevant to our young learners,” said Acting Superintendent Hayashi. “Science can be a daunting subject for students, but Whitney successfully engages her students in exciting and stimulating ways.

Aragaki has taught at Waiākea High for 10 years and is currently a Grade 10 Biology and Advanced Placement (AP) Professor in Environmental Sciences. Its classroom activities are known to connect students with their local communities and are designed around learning through problem solving. Beyond science, Arakgaki’s educational activities provide opportunities for students to elevate their leadership and civic responsibility within the community.

In 2018, the ministry awarded Aragaki an Innovation Grant to support his proposal for Science Buddies, a program where AP science students could impact the next generation of science learners in their own community by creating standards-based lessons for elementary grades. The program provided practical, local and academically rigorous activities for more than 250 students in Grades 3 to 5.

Although stimulating, Aragaki’s teaching methods invited students to explore the world of science. “Ms. Aragaki perseveres on a daily basis to provide her students with the appropriate experience, knowledge and environment they need to open up to a willingness to engage in STEM,” said Lela DeVine, alumnus. from Waiākea High. “The honesty and transparency throughout the classroom that makes her students feel safe and inclusive is what sets Ms. Aragaki apart from any teacher I have ever had.”

Also an alumnus of Waiākea High, Aragaki has strived to further improve her school community through the creation of the peer-to-peer Warrior Professional Learning Community (PLC). After noticing a high turnover of teachers in his school, Aragaki started this teacher induction and mentorship group for those new to the school and to the profession to foster a greater sense of culture and belonging. at school. Through the New Warrior PLC, new teachers receive training on career academies, how to support prospective first-generation students, the integration of technology into the classroom, and other professional development sessions by leaders of the teachers in schools.

“Ms. Aragaki’s commitment to excellence extends far beyond her teaching and across her classroom,” said Kelcy Koga, Principal of Waiākea High School. “She sees the benefits of a good education. can offer and is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty not only to serve her students, but also her colleagues and the school community. ”

In addition to her role as a classroom teacher, Aragaki has taught AP Environmental Science, AP Statistics, and AP Computing Principles for the Hawai’i Virtual Learning Network Electronic School since 2013. She is the principal teacher of the Waiākea High Public Services Academy, which was recognized as a National Model Academy by the National Career Academy Coalition in 2018. A certified teacher by the National Board, Aragaki was also a state finalist in 2019 and 2021 for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

The full list of finalists honored today is, in alphabetical order:

  • ‘Ä€ina Akamu, Ka’Å«-Kea’au-Pāhoa Complex Area, Ka’Å« High & Pāhala Elementary.
  • Wesley Capdepon, Honoka’a-Kealakehe-Kohala-Konawaena Complex Zone, Honoka’a Elementary School.
  • Cara Chaudron, Public Charter Schools, SEEQS: The School for Examining Critical Sustainability Issues.
  • Trisha Gibson, ‘Aiea-Moanalua-Radford Complex Area,’ Aiea Elementary.
  • Wendy Gumm, Nānākuli-Wai’anae Complex Zone, Nānāikapono Elementary School.
  • Ashley Ito-Macion, Pearl City-Waipahu Complex Area, Kanoelani Elementary.
  • Corrie Izumoto, KaimukÄ«-McKinley-Roosevelt Complex Area, Kawānanakoa Middle.
  • Jim Kunimitsu, Campbell-Kapolei Complex Area, Pōhākea Elementary School.
  • Richard Lau, Kailua-Kalāheo Complex Area, Kalāheo High.
  • Theresa Malone, Kapa’a-Kaua’i-Waimea Complex Zone, Kalāheo Elementary School.
  • Jeni Miyahira, Leilehua-Mililani-Waialua complex area, Mililani High.
  • Miyuki Sekimitsu, Castle-Kahuku Complex Zone, Kāne’ohe Primary.
  • Wendy Shigeta, Farrington-Kaiser-Kalani Complex Area, Haha’ione Elementary School.
  • Bill Tatro, Hāna-Lahainaluna-LānaÊ»i-MolokaÊ»i complex area, Lahainaluna High.
  • Lisa Yamada, Baldwin-Kekaulike-Maui Complex Zone, Wailuku Primary.

Today’s virtual ceremony included:

  • Honoraria to each finalist by Hawaiian Electric Co.
  • A one-year lease of a 2022 Subaru Impreza courtesy of Subaru Hawaii to the winner.


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