KIS’s Kagami Has ‘Promise’
By PAIGE TAKEYA
Not all seventh-graders have a fully functional aquaponics set up in their classrooms. But it’s par for the course for the students of Kailua Intermediate School’s Ryan Kagami.
That’s why his work in and out of the science classroom has earned him the National Milken Educators of Hawaii’s Teacher of Promise award.
The second-year teacher (and graduate of Castle High School) strives to take lessons beyond the textbook with applied aquaponics – the merger of hydroponics (soil-free plant cultivation) and aqua-culture (raising fish and other aquatic life).
“In Ryan’s classes, science concepts become relevant because students find practical applications all around them,” stated principal Lisa DeLong.
Kagami won grants that allowed his grade 7 and 8 students to build two independent aquaponics systems in his classroom. They were able to change variables (like lighting or the number of fish in the system) and problem-solve to find optimal growing conditions. Not quite satisfied, Kagami has applied for a 3Rs (Repair, Remodel, Restore Our Schools) grant to build an even larger system on campus.
He also has worked with KIS colleagues to better address Common Core state standards, and he was a driving force behind the school’s adopting the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program. AVID promotes college readiness through targeted study skills and planning strategies, like binder organization and interactive notetaking.
He competed for the honor with four other Hawaii teachers, and in a March 14 ceremony at KIS, he won a plaque and $1,000 sponsorship from HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union. Presenting his award were past national Milken Educator awardees Catherine Payne, Estelle Wong and Ellen Schroeder.
Shortly after the assembly, Kagami joined students at a beach cleanup nearby.