Thursday, January 25, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, January 25, 2001

Cayetano to honor four teachers

By Alice Keesing
Advertiser Education Writer

Four Hawaii public school teachers will be recognized by the governor today for attaining the highest professional credential in their field.

The four teachers this year joined the ranks of nationally certified teachers, a program established by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in 1987 to boost teacher quality. While there are more than 9,300 certified teachers nationally, there are only five in Hawaii.

Hawaii was slower off the mark than other states, but the growing number says a lot about the quality of teachers here, said Hawaii State Teachers Association spokeswoman Danielle Lum.

"It means that these teachers have passed rigorous standards and are among the best in the nation," Lum said. "It’s testimony to what they do as teachers and also to their administrators and school."

The teachers are:

Charlene Miyashiro, Waiakeawaena Elementary on the Big Island
Bess Jennings, Hawaii district office
Jill Hirota, Waialua Elementary Devora Lemus, Maili Elementary

They join Derek Minakami of Kailua High, who was Hawaii’s first public school teacher to win certification. He went on to win last year’s state Teacher of the Year Award and is a finalist for the national award.

Miyashiro, who has been teaching for 22 years, said the application procedure was rigorous.

"It took way over 200 hours for me," she said. "There are a lot of sacrifices that have to be made."

Certification is voluntary, and educators say it helps refine skills so teachers are more effective in the classroom. Teachers have to submit an extensive portfolio and pass four two-hour exams to demonstrate their knowledge, teaching ability and skills.

"We didn’t go through this for the money, because there isn’t any," Hirota said. "I just really wanted to know how I measured up to national standards."

However, Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono yesterday proposed a bill that would reimburse Hawaii’s teachers the $2,500 certificate application fee. It also would give teachers a yearly bonus of $5,000 while their certificate is valid. Other states already give certified teachers sizable bonuses.

Today’s ceremony comes as the teachers union and the governor are deadlocked in contract negotiations. Gov. Ben Cayetano earlier this month rejected the report of a fact-finding panel and its recommendation of a 19 percent raise for Hawaii’s teachers.

But Jennings said the event is not the right place to talk about the contract, but she hopes their achievement can send a message that teachers deserve recognition.

"I would wish that (Cayetano) could really understand that teachers are professionals, that they invest many, many years in their education and many, many hours on a daily, weekly and yearly basis, they take money out of their pockets for their classes — the system really is being carried on the hard work of dedicated teachers," Jennings said.

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