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King Kamehameha III Elementary School kindergarten teacher honored as 2016 Maui District Teacher of the Year

By Staff | Nov 12, 2015


LAHAINA – King Kamehameha III Elementary School kindergarten teacher Joy Aulani Takatsuka was recently honored as the 2016 Maui District Teacher of the Year by the state Department of Education.

Inspired by a family of dedicated teachers and motivated by her experience as a student, Takatsuka explained: “I cannot remember a time when I considered being anything other than a teacher.”

Principal Steve Franz “nominated her because she is a dedicated and an awesome teacher,” noted Claire Tillman of King Kamehameha III School.

“She successfully transitions early learners from junior kindergarten to first grade by valuing them as individuals and recognizing their capabilities,” Takatsuka’s nomination states. “She promotes the development of emotional and social skills to assist her students in facing bullying and life’s other challenges.

“Takatsuka embraces her profession by contributing her talents to school leadership positions and participating in community sponsored literacy and childcare programs. She teaches because she wants to facilitate curiosity and discovery for learners.”

Takatsuka grew up on Maui, attended Baldwin High School and Kamehameha Schools in Oahu, then studied at Graceland College in Iowa.

A teacher for 18 years, Takatsuka has also taught at Paia School and Kaunakakai Elementary School on Molokai.

Takatsuka is active with the YMCA and volunteers to help at many school activities, including Literacy Nights and Family Math Nights.

She is one of the seven Hawaii DOE district teacher winners. Kapunahala Elementary teacher Stephanie Mew was honored as the 2016 State Teacher of the Year, “but we are very proud of Miss Takatsuka for being the winner from Maui,” Tillman commented.

The Teacher of the Year award is part of a prestigious national program that honors teaching excellence in the United States.

Each year, the Hawaii State Teacher of the Year is chosen from one of the seven Hawaii DOE district teacher winners following a rigorous selection process that includes the teacher’s ability to inspire students to learn; to have earned respect among students, parents and peers; to be active in the community as well as school; and to be able to perform the task of representing the teaching profession nationally and internationally.