Island Insurance Foundation presents $25,000 Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award to Keaau High School Principal Dean Cevallos | Island Insurance

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Island Insurance Foundation presents $25,000 Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award to Keaau High School Principal Dean Cevallos

The Island Insurance Foundation presented its eleventh annual Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award of $25,000 to Principal Dean Cevallos of Keaau High School at the annual Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation Dinner held on April 30th at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.

The award, named in honor of the late Masayuki Tokioka, founder of Island Insurance Company, Ltd., is presented to a public school principal who is visionary, community-minded, and has an entrepreneurial spirit – qualities of leadership that Tokioka exemplified in his own company and in the business community.

“Principal Cevallos exemplifies the type of leadership that can transform our public schools into model learning institutions,” said Tyler Tokioka, Island Insurance Foundation President. “By recognizing outstanding principals such as Dean, it is our hope that his accomplishments will inspire others in public education,” Tokioka added.

Cevallos received $15,000 for a school project of his choice and an additional $10,000 cash award. The Island Insurance Foundation also presented a $2,000 cash award to the top two semi-finalists, Principal Malaea Wetzel of Haleiwa Elementary in Haleiwa and Principal Stacie Kunihisa of Kanoelani Elementary in Waipahu.

Thirteen candidates were nominated for the award. They each received $1,000 and a commemorative plaque, which were presented to them at a recognition ceremony on March 28th. The other 10 nominees are:

Bruce Anderson, Maui High School (Kahului, Maui)

Frank Fernandes, Kaimuki Middle School (Honolulu, Oahu)

Shelley Ferrara, Mauka Lani Elementary School (Kapolei, Oahu)

Steve Franz, King Kamehameha III Elementary School (Lahaina, Maui)

Debra Knight, Nanaikapono Elementary School (Waipahu, Oahu)

Corey Nakamura, Wilcox Elementary School (Lihue, Kauai)

Deborah Nekomoto, Kapunahala Elementary School (Kaneohe, Oahu)

Dennis O’Brien, E.B. DeSilva Elementary School (Hilo, Hawaii)

James Sunday, Radford High School (Honolulu, Oahu)

Sean Wong, Ala Wai Elementary School (Honolulu, Oahu)

Dean Cevallos has been principal of Keaau High School for nearly four years. During Cevallos’ tenure, the school experienced a dramatic turnaround and climbed 33 spots in the 2011 rankings/study/survey to become the #4 high school in the state and #1 on the Big Island.

To ensure that all students receive the support necessary to succeed in school and in the future as well as to ease the financial burden to parents, Cevallos allocates funds in the school’s budget to provide everything from transportation, school supplies, breakfast, lunch, after school activities, tutoring and study halls. In addition, Cevallos provides proactive programs to help students transition into high school and to prepare them for college. New students are enrolled in a 9th grade college prep class, and a senior school level counselor was hired (to assist students in accessing the FAFSA and scholarships), and parent/student nights are held to help parents through the financial aid and college application processes.

“Principal Cevallos has made it his mission to ensure that every student on the campus is highly encouraged to attend college and receives any and all support necessary to make it a reality,” said Christopher Ho, an instructor at Keaau High School. “He is continuously working to come up with more ideas to help all students throughout the campus, strengthen their desire to attend college and work towards attaining a college diploma.”

Cevallos plans to utilize the prize money to upgrade the school’s technology infrastructure, which would enable students to have the tools and technology at hand to excel. In addition to computers and iPad purchases, the award would also allow the school to complete its 3D mapping project via Google’s 3D mapping program. Through the use of a drone camera, the program would map the entire campus and be accessible through a personalized app. This would enable new students to have a virtual walk through of the campus before the start of the school year and ease the transition for incoming 9th graders, as well benefit the school’s families and communities.

About Masayuki Tokioka

An immigrant from Japan, Masayuki Tokioka moved to Hawaii at age 12 and graduated from McKinley High School in 1921. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a Master of Business Administration degree in international commerce from Harvard University in 1927. His business career spanned 70 years, during which he founded several successful enterprises such as the Island Insurance Companies, International Savings & Loan Association, Ltd. and National Mortgage & Finance Company, Ltd. He was also a driving force in establishing many community-focused entities such as the Hawaii Immigrant Preservation Center, Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation and the Japanese Cultural Centers in Hawaii and San Francisco.

About the Island Insurance Foundation

The Island Insurance Foundation was established as the charitable arm of Island Insurance, Hawaii’s largest locally owned and managed property and casualty insurance carrier.

Island Insurance has been serving Hawaii’s families and businesses for 75 years and is the only Hawaii-based company to be recognized as one of the Top 50 property & casualty insurance companies in the nation by the Ward Group for seven consecutive years. Island Insurance holds a financial strength rating of “A” (Excellent) from A.M. Best Company. For more information, visit its website at:

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