Mauka Lani’s State ‘Teacher Of Promise’

Mauka Lani Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Bryan Rankie recently was named this year’s “Teacher of Promise,” a recognition given by the National Milken Educators of Hawaii for those who demonstrate excellence during their first four semesters.

Rankie, who is from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., joined the Makakilo public school in 2011. He teaches general education in an inclusion classroom, incorporating special education students into a general education setting.

“I have to say that I have a great class,” Rankie said. “They are there to learn. They want to learn every day.”

Under Rankie’s leadership, the students have met annual federal progress benchmarks. He also reports that they have been doing well on their Hawaii Statewide Assess-ment tests.

“Bryan has an excellent rapport with everyone within our school, especially the students,” stated principal Shelley Ferrara. “He has an innate ability to connect with students through their academic strengths and interests.”

Rankie also has taken on additional responsibilities outside of the classroom, volunteering to coach the school basketball and track teams. Most recently, he was elected to co-chair the School Community Council, a committee that meets regularly to discuss issues that affect both the school and larger community.

“There are so many people who have helped me out at the school and have gone above and beyond for me,” Rankie said, adding that his co-workers have become something of a surrogate family for him. “They will just help no matter what.”

Living in the Islands has been a longtime dream for Rankie, who now resides in Makakilo.

“I absolutely love it here,” he said. “I heard about this (job), and it was pretty much a nobrainer that I would want to come teach in Hawaii.”

A graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y., he has a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction (special education strand) and a bachelor’s degree in childhood education.

“I have always liked hanging out with kids. I like to see the growth they (experience) each year and having something new happen every day.” He noted that his interest in education first sparked when he was in high school. “And I like just seeing the ‘Aha!’ moments when they finally understand a concept they have been struggling with, and seeing that happiness that comes with that.”