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Waipahu Principal Recognized For Excellence In Leadership

Waipahu High School principal Keith Hayashi (center) recently was recognized by the City Council for winning the 2013 Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award. Photo from City Councilman Ron Menor.

At the very core of a principal’s duties is the ability to lead – that person is, after all, responsible for a campus full of students.

Principal Keith Hayashi of Waipahu High School recently was recognized for possessing this skill with the Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award.

Island Insurance Foundation presented the $25,000 award.

“It felt great,” Hayashi said afterward. “You think of all the work we’re doing at Waipahu collectively … we’re all working together to support our students.”

$10,000 was presented as a cash award; the other $15,000 will be put toward the school for a project of his choice – an aquaponics system that will educate students about sustainability.

It initially started as a school-contained project, but has developed into something on a much larger scale.

“It morphed into working with our feeder schools, because they’re the future Marauders,” he said.

In addition to providing students with the opportunity to learn about sustainability, the hands-on program also will generate herbs and vegetables to be sold to the community. Proceeds would go back into supporting the program.

Hayashi has been principal at Waipahu High School for four years. Beginning his career in education in 1989, the Pearl City resident also has taught at Waipahu Elementary and Intermediate schools.

The most rewarding aspect of his job? “Our students,” he said simply.

He has been instrumental in developing programs for students to achieve college and career goals, and is quick to proudly share that more than 200 students in next year’s graduating class already have more than enough credits to graduate.

Additionally, students at Waipahu are given the opportunity to take college courses on campus after school.

“For a lot of my kids, they may be the first in the family to go to college – there may not be prior experiences,” he said. “Now that they are taking these courses and are successful, the hesitancy is no longer there – they’re excited, motivated and engaged.”

“Many of the lessons and projects that students participate in at Waipahu High School put the students ahead of their peers for college and career readiness and understanding of industry-level standards needed to succeed in a skill labor market,” added Brian Birdsall of the high school’s community council.

This year marked the ninth annual presentation of the School Leadership Award, named after the founder of Islander Insurance.

It was presented in April at the Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation dinner at Hilton Hawaiian Village.