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Koloa principal nominated for leadership award

KOLOA — A Kaua‘i elementary school principal has been nominated for a $25,000 education award, and she’s hoping to use the funding to help expand a teacher training program.

Leila Maeda-Kobayashi, the principal of Koloa School, is one of 15 principals nominated for Island Insurance Foundation’s 17th Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award.

“The award honors the late Masayuki Tokioka, founder of Island Insurance Company Ltd. and a proud graduate of Hawai‘i public schools,” according to a statement from Island Insurance.

The winner will receive a total of $25,000: a $10,000 personal cash award and $15,000 toward a school project of the principal’s choice.

Maeda-Kobayashi, who has been the principal of Koloa School since 2018, said the $15,000 award would make a “big difference” for her school.

“Being a small school, we are limited in our budget as far as how much we get, because funding is based on a per-pupil allotment,” she said. “But what I’d really like to do is to continue the work that we do in instruction.”

Maeda-Kobayashi described using the funding to pay for additional substitute teachers to provide more training days for an education consultant to work with teachers on effective instructional practices.

“If I get this $15,000 I can do two or three sub days, where I can take teachers out of the classroom, and I can offer them more training,” said Maeda-Habayashi, adding that the training program provides different teaching strategies, such as active participation, to increase student achievement.

She also said she would be interested in working with Wilcox Elementary School and Kilauea School to further develop the instructional program.

“If we can partner together and leverage the $15,000 for all three schools, I think that would be even better,” she said.

Maeda-Kobayashi noted it was an honor just to be nominated, adding there were many administrators on the island deserving of the award.

“I’m representing them. I’m representing the community, and actually the whole island. So it’s something that has a great sense of responsibility attached to it,” she said.

The state Department of Education divides schools throughout the state into 15 complex areas, with one of those areas representing Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau. Daniel Hamada, the DOE complex area superintendent for Kaua‘i, told The Garden Island that he nominated Maeda-Kobayashi for the award.

“There was no doubt that Leila meets the criteria,” he said.

“She’s a great administrator. We have a lot of good administrators on this island. But to me, she’s a really good role model and a good example of the leadership of Kaua‘i, so I’m very proud to have nominated her.”

Hamada pointed to her school’s strong school survey results and student achievement scores over time, claiming it was one of only a few schools to show continued progress throughout the pandemic.

Hamada and Maeda-Kobayashi worked together during the 2014-15 school year, while Hamada was still a principal at Kapa‘a High School.

“She was mentoring under me for about one year,” he said, during Maeda-Kobayashi’s first year interning as a vice principal.

Hamada added that the award is competitive, with 14 other principals vying to win. But he has his “fingers crossed” for Maeda-Kobayashi.

“She has a good chance. She has a good track record,” he said.

This is Maeda-Kobayashi’s fourth year as a principal at Koloa School. Prior to that, she was the vice principal of Wilcox Elementary. She began teaching in 1997 as a special education teacher.

All nominees received $1,000 cash awards during a recognition ceremony last Saturday at Island Insurance Center on O‘ahu.

The other 14 nominees are Sharon Beck, Ka‘u High &Pahala Elementary; U‘ilani Kaitoku, Hau‘ula Elementary; Suzie Lee, Ma‘ili Elementary; Nathan Maeda, Maunawili Elementary; Amy Martinson, Highlands Intermediate; Komarey Moss, Red Hill Elementary; Jason Nakamoto, Leilehua High; Chad Okamoto, Pu‘u Kukui Elementary; Jacqueline Ornellas, Lincoln Elementary; Christopher Sanita, Hana High and Elementary; Wesley Shinkawa, Kapolei High; Lisa Souza, Waiakea Intermediate; Kori Takaki, Kahakai Elementary; and Jason Yoshimoto, Kamilo‘iki Elementary.

The award recipient and two semifinalists will be announced at the Public Schools of Hawai‘i annual dinner on April 20.
Source: The Garden Island

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