Position: Health & Wellness Teacher School: Nānāikapono Elementary School
School District: Nānākuli-Wai'anae Complex
City, State: Nānākuli, Hawaii
About the Nominee: William Arthur Ward once said, " The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." Kevin Eiker is definitely in the last category. He is not just a health and wellness teacher, but he is also a highly resourceful teacher. For instance, Mr. Eiker came up with a creative way to introduce pedometers (which were donated by the American Diabetes Association and Chevron/Texaco) into his physical education class. He had his youngest students competitively count the number of steps they walked to school or during recess so that they could exercise while learning numbers at the same time. Whether it's through this or his extracurricular sports programs, Mr. Eiker inspires students to want to learn and achieve.
Mr. Eiker can be found on campus in the mornings before school starts, either doing workouts with the students or making plans with his team of fifth/sixth grade "assistant coaches" for the day. They might be discussing activities or nutritional topics. Whatever it is, it involves team work, healthy lifestyles and healthy minds/bodies. To witness the maturity and earnest engagement of his students is astounding. Mr. Eiker can also be found on campus after school and on some weekends with students or teachers, doing activities such as painting running lanes and other sports related activities using materials that he solicited from the private sector. For him, it's all about healthy bodies and minds, working as a team and doing something that is good for everyone. Again, these examples are typical of Mr. Eiker's creativity.
While assisting with the University of Hawaii's PALS (Program for After-school Literacy Support, funded by the University of Hawaii), Mr. Eiker and a colleague integrated running into the curriculum. A group of 17 students from grades 4-6 ran a 5K during the Xterra Trail Run World Championship, a benefit event for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Students were also rewarded with a PALS sponsored $55 budget that they could use to buy sports equipment that could only be used during practice.
When students are willing to come to school early, stay late or come in on the weekends, something special is happening. Even on this recent summer vacation, Mr. Eiker spent time as a volunteer building an elementary school in Fiji. He'd be too modest to make a fuss of that, according to his nominator, but the one thing he spoke of the most was how he could apply what he'd learned there to inspire his students and colleagues. It's this type of dedication and thoughtfulness, coupled with his principal's foresight and ardent support, that will give the students of Nānākuli, a relatively impoverished neighborhood, a healthy and hopeful future.