Momilani Educator’s Excellence In Teaching Wins Award
According to Masaru Uchino, teamwork and support are everything.
The 2015 Leeward District Teacher of the Year credits his recognition to the encouragement of faculty and staff at Momilani Elementary School, where he teaches third grade.
Uchino was honored Nov. 7 at the State Capitol auditorium.
“It was an honor to represent the school as a whole, not just an individual accomplishment,” said Uchino, who’s been teaching at the school since 2007. “For me, to be selected as the Leeward representative for the year, I don’t want to say it’s a victory for me, but it’s a recognition for the school.”
Uchino’s district recognition came in part because of his work outside the classroom.
Momilani Elementary’s Fit Factory, which Uchino runs with fourth-grade teacher Dawn Kanoho, is a free bi-weekly fitness after-school program for thirdand fourth-grade students.
He also has a huge hand in the school’s yearly drama program.
For the past five years Uchino has been writing, directing and choreographing his own performances based on the curriculum he teaches in class.
“I come up with a theme, and I write a script for it,” he explained. “There are usually six to eight songs I write for it.”
While hard work has been the backbone of Uchino’s teaching career, he said his recognition as a distinguished instructor came as a very welcome surprise.
“I wasn’t aware that I was running for the 2015 year,” he explained. Uchino had submitted an application the year prior, and Momilani principal Doreen Higa resubmitted the forms.
“She didn’t tell me why she (needed to) update my files,” said Ushino, who also teaches math, science and P.E. “I had no idea I was still in the running for it.
“It was out of sight, out of mind.”
He credited Higa’s level of standards to his and the school’s success.
“I couldn’t do anything of the things I do here if it weren’t for principal Higa,” said Uchino, who moved here from California. “She really pushes all the teachers to strive for only the best.”