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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, October 23, 2001

Radford teacher wins $25,000 national honor

By James Gonser
Advertiser Staff Writer

A Radford High math teacher known as a lifelong learner who "invests endless time and energy to provide service to his school and his community" was named a national Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award winner yesterday during a school assembly.

Herman Leong, 34, a math teacher at Radford High who also coaches basketball and football, was named a Milken Family Foundation National Educator.

Video capture by Greg Knudsen

The award is one of three being presented this week to Hawai'i teachers. It includes a $25,000 prize.

Acting School Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto made the surprise announcement about Herman Leong yesterday morning before the entire Radford student body and faculty.

"I'm still kind of overwhelmed," said Leong. "It really wasn't expected."

In his 11 years, Leong has taught all levels of mathematics, from general math to advanced placement calculus and statistics. He is chairman of the math department and assistant athletic director, coaching varsity and junior varsity basketball and the junior varsity football team.

Leong, 34, decided to become a teacher after his experience tutoring while studying engineering in college.

"I think it is an honor, a validation of the time and effort we teachers put into the classroom," Leong said of the award. "The older generation of teachers are good mentors. Hopefully they have taught me well."

Leong, who said he hasn't thought about what he plans to do with the award money, also heads the school budget committee and is a member of the school instructional council.

"Mr. Leong is a learner as well as a teacher," said Radford principal Robert Stevens. "He is one who is willing to take on challenges and then encourages and motivates others to follow. He motivates his students to be lifelong learners because he is one too."

Hawai'i has taken part in the Milken Educator Awards since 1990. Two more teachers will be named this week, bringing the number of Milken award winners in Hawai'i to 56, with awards totaling $1.4 million.

The awards are presented annually to teachers for exceptional classroom practice, potential for professional and policy leadership and inspirational presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.

Teachers are nominated secretly and selected by a blue-ribbon committee.

Hawai'i's winners will be honored at a luncheon in Honolulu in December and invited to attend the National Educator Awards ceremony and conference in Los Angeles next summer.