Hanalani Principal Hawaii’s Best
Hanalani Schools in Mililani has seen great advancements in education and college preparedness, thanks to upper school principal Winston Sakurai. His accomplishments haven’t gone unnoticed, as Hawaii Association of Secondary School Administrators (HASSA) named him 2016 Principal of the Year.
“I was really in shock,” he said. “There are so many great principals out there. For me, I just wanted to apply to demonstrate all the great things that happen at Hanalani.
“It was really a team effort. The teachers sacrifice a lot to help students and support them. To me, it’s not an individual award, it’s an award for the school.”
Since his appointment as upper school principal in 2008, Sakurai has doubled the amount of Advanced Placement (AP) class offerings. According to the school, 93 percent of students passed AP final exams at the end of the school year.
In addition, Sakurai has put a huge focus on college preparedness for students, and 100 percent of Hanalani students are accepted to a college or university.
“We wanted to create a college-going culture on campus,” he explained. “Not just getting into college, but having students achieve at the highest levels once they reach college.”
Sakurai’s goal is to equip students with skills they need to be successful once they enter the workforce, as well. In fact, as upper school principal, he has focused on having faculty teach relevant 21st-century skills such as communication, creativity and critical thinking.
“We want them to be contributors to our community,” he continued. “People who do well, not just at work, but we want them to do their best to serve the Lord in whatever they do.
“We want students to be business leaders and community leaders, not just locally, but also on the national and world level.” Prior to his position as upper school principal, Sakurai was the private Christian school’s elementary school principal for two years, vice principal for three years and taught history in the upper school division for two years.
“I get to work and collaborate with not just students in the classroom, but (also on) moving the whole division forward as an organization,” he said. “My job is really to help teachers do their best in the classroom, but the bottom line is that we want students to grow and learn because we have supportive adults there guiding them.”
His work with Hanalani Schools is truly a family affair. Wife Rochelle directs the school’s college and academic services, and son Matthew is enrolled in kindergarten. Sakurai’s daughter Madison will start preschool at Hanalani during the summer.
This fall, Sakurai will travel to Washington, D.C., to represent the state at the NASSP Institute and Awards Gala, where he will share ideas and best practices with other outstanding principals around the country.