Ka’u Principal Sharon Beck Wins $25K from Island Insurance Foundation | Island Insurance

Ka‘ū’s Sharon Beck Named Top DOE Principal, Receives $25K from Island Insurance Foundation

Sharon Beck, principal of Ka‘ū High & Pahala Elementary on the Big Island, has been named winner of the 17th Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award.

As the year’s top DOE principal, she received $25,000: a $10,000 personal cash award and $15,000 toward a school project of her choice.

Principals Leila Maeda-Kobayashi of Kōloa Elementary and Wesley Shinkawa of Kapolei High were named semi-finalists from the list of 15 outstanding principal-nominees. Principals Maeda-Kobayashi and Shinkawa each received a $2,000 cash award.

Island Insurance Foundation Chairman Tyler Tokioka announced the three top principals earlier this evening at the Public Schools of Hawai‘i Foundation annual dinner at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.

“Over her long tenure at a truly unique school, Principal Beck has shown the vision necessary to provide Ka‘ū students with innovative and enriching programs, while leveraging community resources and experts,” says Tyler Tokioka, grandson of Masayuki Tokioka. “Ka‘ū High & Pahala Elementary are clearly much stronger educational institutions because of her leadership – and its students are the beneficiaries of her dedication.”

Principal Sharon Beck

Principal Beck has led Ka‘ū High & Pahala Elementary for 17 years. Ka‘ū is the DOE’s largest geographic district in the state, and the community faces many unique challenges. Schools are small and rural; students often have long commutes coupled with limited access to resources and opportunities. Median household income there is less than half of that for the state as a whole, and more than 22% of Ka‘ū residents live below the poverty line.

But she refuses to see those as hurdles that cannot be surmounted. As Principal Beck herself stated in her application, “Overall, my role as a leader is to build the structures for teachers, students and parents to provide students the best opportunities in spite of the rural/remote challenges of distance, poverty and lack of resources.”

Principal Beck plans to use her award money to purchase Olivia devices and licenses, which would allow teachers to upload their learning platforms onto Google Classroom. Olivia is a platform that delivers a digital learning experience regardless of broadband connectivity – critical to the area because of limited accessibility to the internet and the great distances many students travel from home to school. The Olivia devices would help teachers design even more engaging, relevant and rigorous lessons, as well as allow parents greater involvement in their children’s education.

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. It is presented annually by the Island Insurance Foundation to a local public school principal who is visionary, community-minded and innovative – all qualities that Masayuki Tokioka exemplified as a business and nonprofit leader. The award was established in 2004 and is underwritten by the Island Insurance Foundation.

Hawai‘i DOE Superintendent Keith Hayashi, other DOE administrators and a wide array of statewide business leaders and elected officials were among the approximately 700 guests at the Public Schools of Hawai‘i Foundation annual dinner.

Each of the 15 nominees for this year’s Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award – who lead public elementary and secondary schools in all four counties – previously received a $1,000 cash award from the Island Insurance Foundation. The other nominees were:

  • U‘ilani Kaitoku, Hau‘ula Elementary
  • Suzie Lee, Mā‘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, Hāna High and Elementary
  • Lisa Souza, Waiākea Intermediate
  • Kori Takaki, Kahakai Elementary
  • Jason Yoshimoto, Kamilo‘iki Elementary

Masayuki Tokioka

After graduating from McKinley High School, the late Masayuki Tokioka – a fervent believer in the power of education – earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University. Over a business career that spanned seven decades, he founded a number of highly successful local enterprises including Island Insurance Companies, International Savings & Loan Association and National Mortgage & Finance Company. He was also dedicated to the community, serving as the driving force behind the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, the Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation and the Hawai‘i Immigrant Preservation Center.

About Island Insurance Foundation

The Island Insurance Foundation is the charitable arm of Island Insurance, Hawai‘i’s only locally owned and managed property and casualty insurance carrier.

Since 2003, the Foundation has donated nearly $12 million to a wide array of non-profit organizations across Hawai‘i. It donated almost $1.2 million to 115 local non-profits in 2022 and is recognized as one of the top 25 most active private foundations in Hawai‘i.

Founded in downtown Honolulu, Island Insurance has been serving Hawai‘i’s families and businesses for over 80 years. Island Insurance is the only Hawai‘i-based company to be recognized as a Top 50 property & casualty insurer in the nation by the Ward Group for an unprecedented 15 consecutive years. It holds a financial strength rating of “A” (Excellent) from A.M. Best Company.