Stevenson Middle School teacher Ken Kakesako was selected Hawai‘i’s Milken Teacher of Promise Award by the National Milken Educators of Hawai‘i. Kakesako is currently in his third year of teaching science at Stevenson.

The award annually recognizes a teacher who demonstrates excellence in the field and the highest qualities of a professional educator during their first six semesters in the classroom. It was presented to Kakesako during a school staff meeting.

“The award is really just a reflection of the amazing teachers we have here at Stevenson,” Kakesako said. “I’m honored to be included with them.”

Ruth Silberstein, complex area superintendent for Kaimukï-McKinley-Roosevelt, stated, “When one teacher at a school is honored, all teachers are honored.”

Kakesako also founded the school’s Wrestling League, which provides students an opportunity to participate in competitive athletics after school. He partnered with McKinley High School students to create the ROOTS (Responsible Open-Minded Operations Through Science) at Stevenson, a STEM-based club focused on fostering student leadership skills through project-based learning. He has helped raise thousands of dollars to support these after-school efforts.

“Ken promotes growth mindset and self-efficacy and continuously reflects on his practice. He establishes trust and creates structures that promote a culture conducive to 21st century teaching and learning,” said Stevenson Middle School principal Linell Dilwith. “He has an infectious smile and is caring, kind, holds high expectations for himself and students and exemplifies aloha.”

Noelani Elementary teacher Katherine Nakamura, who has two children attending Stevenson, thanked Kakesako “as a parent and a public school teacher.” “Incorporating STEM practices and student reflection, he (Kakesako) allows students to analyze their own learning,” she said.

Kakesako cited the mentorship of fellow educator Julia Segawa, a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) recipient, as being instrumental in helping him learn and grow into the profession.

The Milken Educator of Promise award alternates annually between elementary and secondary teachers. Teachers of Excellence are selected in each of the DOE’s 15 complex areas and are awarded $250. The statewide honoree is selected from among them and receives a $1,000 prize. The program is supported by Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union.

Ken Kakesako was born and raised in Mänoa and graduated from ‘Iolani School and Harvard University. He is the son of Hawai‘i Herald contributing writer Gregg Kakesako and his wife Leatrice.

The state Senate recently confirmed Russell Suzuki as Hawai‘i’s new attorney general. Suzuki became acting attorney general when then-Attorney General Doug Chin resigned to become lieutenant governor following the resignation of Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui. Gov. David Ige subsequently appointed Suzuki as attorney general.

Suzuki has served as a public-sector attorney, working in the Department of the Attorney General, for 36 years. During that time, he served as first deputy attorney general under Attorneys General Douglas Chin, David Louie and Mark Bennett. Prior to that, he was a supervising deputy attorney general of the Administration Division and Education Division.

Suzuki also served as counsel to various state boards and commissions, including the Land Use Commission, the Board of Education, the Board of Regents, the Employees’ Retirement System, the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund and the Judicial Selection Commission, among others. Before moving to public sector law, he practiced criminal defense law, family law, business law and military law with the law offices of Yoshiro Nakamura.

“Russell brings a wealth of experience to this position and I know he will continue to provide sound legal advice to the executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government,” Ige said.

“I am humbled and honored to serve in this position. I’ll do my best to serve the people of the state of Hawaiʻi,” Suzuki said following his appointment.

Suzuki earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawai‘i and his juris doctorate from The Ohio State University.

Tyler Tokioka has joined Teach for America’s regional advisory board. Tokioka is vice president of external affairs for Island Insurance.

Since its establishment on O‘ahu in 2006, and on Hawai‘i Island in 2009, Teach For America – Hawai‘i has recruited and developed over 750 educational leaders who begin as teachers serving public school students affected by poverty. Alumni of the program continue to work across career sectors to improve opportunities for young people and to fight for educational equity.

Tokioka will help guide Teach for America – Hawai‘i as it works to build a diverse corps of lifelong leaders in the movement to end educational inequity. New corps members begin their commitment to expand educational opportunities for students from low-income backgrounds by teaching in hard-to-staff public school placements for at least two years.

“Island Insurance has been a longtime supporter of our work, and Tyler brings an incredible wealth of experience and expertise to our regional board,” said Teach For America – Hawai‘i executive director of Jill Baldemor.

Also serving on Teach For America – Hawai‘i’s regional advisory board is Lisa Ayabe, partner at Cades Schutte LLP; Sharon Shiroma Brown, senior vice president of First Hawaiian Bank and president of First Hawaiian Bank Foundation; Glen Kaneshige, president of Nordic Construction PCL; Paul Kosasa, president and CEO of ABC Stores; and Sharlene Tsuda, vice president of community development for The Queen’s Health Systems.


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