Mililani Educator Named One Of State’s Best DOE Principals

Elynne Chung and Keith Hayashi are two of Hawaii's best principals. Department of Education photo.

Elynne Chung and Keith Hayashi are two of Hawaii’s best principals. Department of Education photo.

Mililani Middle School’s Elynne Chung and Waipahu High’s Keith Hayashi have been recognized as Hawaii’s 2015 Principals of the Year.

Hawaii Association of Secondary School Administrators (HASSA) honored them during a May 4 awards banquet at Hale Koa Hotel.

The award, part of the National Association of Secondary School Principals program, lauds outstanding school leaders who success in delivering high-quality learning opportunities to students along with exemplary contributions to their profession.

Chung’s transformation of Mililani Middle School – the state’s largest middle school with 1,743 students – has been especially impressive in light of its unique challenge as one of just four year-round multi-track schools in Hawaii.

Judges found that Mililani Middle School has flourished under Chung’s leadership, despite the crushing schedule and enrollment.

Math proficiency rose to 68 percent in 2013 from 59 percent in 2010, the year Chung arrived. The school’s reading and science proficiency of 85 percent and 51 percent, respectively, exceeded the state’s average by double-digit margins.

Mililani Middle also earned a $45,000 grant recently from the Resources for Enrichment, Athletics, Culture and Health (R.E.A.C.H.) to support some 28 after-school programs, such as modern art, music and advanced technology.

In June 2012, Mililani secured a six-year accreditation term from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Accreditation members noted the school’s rigor, co-curricular offerings and leadership quality “culminated in an impressive, continuous improvement focus for student achievement.”

“This award is a reflection of the wonderful things that are happening at Mililani Middle School and public education in general,” stated Chung.

“The selection is a credit to the entire school community’s effort to make Mililani Middle School a great place to learn for our students.”

Hayashi, meanwhile, has focused on college and career readiness for Waipahu High School’s 2,500 students since becoming principal in 2009. The school now boasts a wide range of career pathways and academies, ranging from finance to information technology and culinary arts.

About 70 percent of Waipahu High students are of Filipino ancestry, and nearly six out of 10 come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Reading proficiency among 10th-graders rose to 69 percent in 2013 from 58 percent in 2011, while math proficiency jumped to 47 percent from 26 percent. The college-bound rate increased from 49 percent to 58 percent during the same period.

“Our successes at Waipahu High are a result of the collaborative efforts among our caring and committed faculty and staff, motivated students, supportive industry, community, post-secondary partners, coordinated efforts among the Waipahu Complex Schools, and dialogue within the Hawaii Academies Schools,” stated Hayashi. “Our career pathway academies combined with Early College make it an exciting time at Waipahu High.”

Hayashi and Chung will represent Hawaii at the National Association of Secondary School Principals Institute in September in Washington, D.C.

The event serves as a forum for principals to share best practices and meet with national education leaders and legislators.