Mililani Mauka Educator Wins Presidential Award For Science

Dave Morishige

Dave Morishige

The bottom line is: “Science should be fun.” That’s a tip from Hawaii’s latest recipient of the Presidential Award for

Excellence in Science Teaching – a man who’s spent more than two decades in island classrooms with little kids.

Dave Morishige of Mililani Mauka Elementary School was notified last month of his selection for the prestigious award – along with Math Teaching recipient Laura Fukumoto of Aliamanu Elementary – to represent the state at ceremonies later this year in Washington, D.C.

At that time, the top two teachers from every state and territory will receive a $10,000 cash award from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion.

A Mililani resident and nationally certified teacher, Morishige is Mauka’s science resource teacher, as well as the one who brings hands-on science lessons to all K-5 students.

He’s been at Mililani Mauka for nine years, following previous work at Mililani Ike and Heeia elementary schools. (Outgoing principal Carol Petersen also appointed him acting vice principal when she retired Dec. 31.)

He also advises the school’s trophy-winning robotics clubs and spear-heads its annual Home Energy Challenge by Hawaiian Electric Co., which Mauka has won twice.

Energy appears to be a favorite topic in the Morishige household. Last year his daughter Casey, a Mauka fourth-grader at the time, submitted an award-winning entry in HECO’s New Year’s Resolution contest: “I will open the windows and not use the air conditioner.”

Morishige’s personal store of energy, and his curiosity about “how things work,” is what propels the lively learning that occurs in class.

“For me,” he commented on Facebook, “this award acknowledges the energy I have dedicated to education and supports my belief in providing all students with relevant, hands-on learning and self-reflection.

“I am truly blessed to have supportive family, friends and school community. I honor and share this award with them.” The most rewarding part, however, is “to see the joy in the children’s faces as they discover new things and the appreciation they show by saying a simple ‘thank you for teaching me.'”

President Barack Obama looked at the bigger picture Dec. 20 in his award announcement: “These teachers are inspiring today’s young students to become the next generation of American scientists, mathematicians and innovators. Through their passion and dedication, and by sharing their excitement about science, technology, engineering and math, they are helping us build a promising future for all our children.”