Hawaii

Daphne Okunaga

Position: Math Teacher

School: Pearl City High School

School District: Leeward District

City, State: Pearl City , Hawaii

About the Nominee: Daphne Okunaga was nominated by her principal, Joseph Halfmann. Ms. Okunaga is a LifeChanger at Pearl City High School. She is a dedicated math teacher, a multi-sport coach, graduation coordinator and all-around active Pearl City HS Charger. Her classroom serves as a haven for student athletes, and she pushes students to put their academics before athletics. Ms. Okunaga runs daily study halls for athletes throughout the year. Students go to her for tutoring when they are struggling, as well as snacks when they are hungry and advice on life. Every year, Ms. Okunaga also volunteers her time to coordinate her school's graduation, ensuring that the students' final high school event is memorable and life-changing. She is dedicated to her students and Pearl City High School!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="daphne_okunaga@notes.k12.hi.us"]

Leimomi Chun

Position: Fourth Grade Special Education Teacher

School: Koko Head Elementary School

School District: Honolulu

City, State: Honolulu, Hawaii

About the Nominee: Leimomi Chun was nominated by a colleague, Jared Kagihara. Ms. Chun has been a dedicated and hard working teacher at her school for over a decade. Her colleagues are very grateful for the good work she has done with her students.

She is a highly qualified teacher who is National Board-certified. Her work has helped many students move from being struggling readers to ones who can experience the joy of reading. Ms. Chun regularly arranges field trips for her students to explore their community so they can learn more and be able to interact with the immediate world around them. Sometimes, students have challenges, but Ms. Chun still works with her students to unlock the key to their success. She helps her students not only learn the value of education, but how to become compassionate, caring people.

Ms. Chun is a valued member of her school community by way of her ability to bring our teachers and staff together. She goes out of her way to recognize the good work her colleagues do in the school, and she serves as a cheerleader for all of them. She is always willing to lend a helping hand and participate in school activities as well as serve on many of the school committees.

Her ability to work with everyone in the school makes her a valuable member of the staff. They really appreciate her school spirit and personal pride in her willingness to go above and beyond for Koko Head Elementary!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="leimomi_chun@notes.k12.hi.us"]

Glenn Lee

Position: CTE Teacher

School: Waialua High and Intermediate School

School District: Central District

City, State: Waialua , Hawaii

About the Nominee: Glenn Lee was nominated by his principal, Christine Alexander. Mr. Lee has dedicated the past 18 years to Robotics by educating and inspiring literally hundreds of students, families, mentors, colleagues and members of the Waialua and FIRST Robotics communities. He clearly communicates the values of FIRST through a relentless, unparalleled amount of hard work, dedication and enthusiasm. His mission is to show that science, technology, engineering and math can inspire us to become productive individuals in tomorrow’s society.

Mr. Lee is the co-founder of Team 359, the first FRC team and robotics-related program in Hawaii. He is also the founder and director of the Waialua Robotics STEM Learning Center and REACH Middle School Program, which services roughly half of the student population at Waialua High & Intermediate School. With his leadership and personal efforts, he continues to push forth a vision to help students (including those that are under-served) by implementing a “long-term sustainability plan.” This involves outreach efforts and a College & Career component, which communicates to the public that Robotics is not just a STEM club, but can serve as a catalyst for other opportunities to support all students who are inspired, passionate and enthusiastic about learning and about attending college.

Mr. Lee is not only a LifeChanger in the Waialua community, but across the state and country. Schools and programs from around the world ask him to share his knowledge, expertise and passion for Robotics. Through his guidance and dedication, Mr. Lee challenges the minds of his students through a vision of STEM and technology, reminding us always that “chance favors the prepared mind.”

[nominee_videos nominee_email="glenn_lee@notes.k12.hi.us"]

Angel Ramos

Position: School Principal

School: Hawaii School for the Deaf and the Blind

School District: Honolulu

City, State: Honolulu, Hawaii

About the Nominee: Dr. Angel Ramos is a LifeChanger in Hawaii's deaf community! He has shared his wealth of leadership, experience and knowledge of Deaf Education through his role as Hawaii School for the Deaf and the Blind's (HSDB) principal. Dr. Ramos was recently in his first year of retirement after many years of service as a deaf educator and leader. He helped various schools reach a new level of prestige and came out of retirement to support deaf education in Hawaii and pick up the role of HSDB's principal. Every day, Dr. Ramos comes to work with a smile on face. He wants to greet and speak to every student and has a desire to help that emanates from his heart. When Dr. Ramos sees a student having a rough day, he'll be the first to stop what he is doing to see how he can help. He is dedicated to assisting teachers and staff in any and every possible way by having an open door policy. Recently, Dr. Ramos gave up his own American Sign Language interpreter so that two teachers could continue with the training they needed for their job.

Dr. Ramos works closely with staff, not only in the school, but in his district. His mission is to bring necessary changes and resources to HSDB that focus on deaf education at its finest. Dr. Ramos has implemented Achieve3000, a program that will help improve the reading and writing of HSDB's deaf students. His belief in the deaf students he serves has helped build their confidence. The Hawaiian community is very grateful to have an amazing deaf icon and leader as part of their team. Dr. Ramos has provided local deaf children with access to an amazing deaf education full of resources that has only improved and broadened since his arrival. He is a true "Angel" for the deaf community of Hawaii by turning its deaf educational dreams into a reality.

[nominee_videos nominee_email="angel_ramos@notes.k12.hi.us"]

Dane Inouye

Position: Physical Education Teacher

School: Waiakea Intermediate School

School District: Waiakea Complex

City, State: Hilo, Hawaii

About the Nominee: Dane Inouye was nominated by a colleague, Kristen Miyazono. Mr. Inouye is a LifeChanger in his community because he tirelessly devotes all of his time and energy to making his school a better place for students. He is on the school's leadership team, which allows him to contribute and make important decisions that affect his school's culture and climate. On a daily basis, he gives up his lunch break to run intramural tournaments for every grade level student at his school. He also allows teams of students to sign up to compete in various sports activities during lunch time, and he coordinates a teacher team to play against the students, as well.

If that's not enough, Mr. Inouye gives up his after-school hours every day to run the UPLINK program. This program gives students the opportunity to have enrichment courses and activities when their parents are not able to pick up their child right away. All of the hard work and dedication from Mr. Inouye not only keeps students out of trouble, but helps them engage in positive, healthy relationships and activities.

[nominee_videos nominee_email="Dane_Inouye@notes.k12.hi.us"]