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$25,000 Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award Presented to Naalehu Elementary School Principal Darlene Javar

The Island Insurance Foundation presented Darlene Javar, principal of Naalehu Elementary School on the Island of Hawaii, with its 13th annual Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award last night at the annual Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation banquet at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.

The $25,000 award, named in honor of the late Masayuki Tokioka, founder of Island Insurance Company, Ltd., is presented annually by the Island Insurance Foundation 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 Javar exemplifies the type of leadership that can transform our public schools into model learning institutions,” said Tyler Tokioka, President of the Island Insurance Foundation. “By recognizing outstanding principals such as Darlene, it is our hope that her accomplishments will inspire others in public education.”

Javar received $15,000 for a school project of her 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 Linell Dilwith of Stevenson Middle School in Honolulu and Principal Elynne Chung of Mililani Middle School.

Fourteen 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 April 1st.

The other 11 nominees were:

• Brendan Burns, Aina Haina Elementary School, Oahu

• Mark Elliott, King Kekaulike High School, Maui

• Daniel Hamada, Kapaa High School, Kauai

• Debra Hatada, Kaimiloa Elementary School, Oahu

• Lisa Higa, Nanakuli Elementary School, Oahu

• Marcy Kagami, Nimitz Elementary School, Oahu

• Kelcy Koga, Waiakea High School, Big Island

• Gay Kong, Keolu Elementary School, Oahu

• Derek Minakami, Kaneohe Elementary School, Oahu

• Shawn Suzuki, Konawaena High School, Big Island

• Troy Takazono, Waiau Elementary School, Oahu

Javar has been an educator at Naalehu Elementary for seven years, including six as principal. She believes effective teachers are the most effective factor in a student’s growth and must, therefore, have the necessary resources and preparation to do their jobs, whether they are a returning or new teacher. As a result, Javar established a New Teacher Academy (NTA) for incoming teachers. The NTA ensures that teachers are given a head start and an initial level of understanding, as well as an additional level of financial support before the start of the school year. This differentiated professional development not only meets the needs of first year teachers, but also the many skill levels in various areas of education.

As the award recipient, she will use the monies towards expanding the school’s He Keiki Aloha Na Mea Kanu garden project. Built in 1928, the school is located in the southern-most community on the island of Hawaii. Sixty-three miles from Hilo on the east and the same distance from Kona on the west, students’ homes are located anywhere from small, rural communities in Na`alehu Town to Hawaiian Ocean View Estates. This cultural diversity is also intertwined with a large percentage of students who face the challenges of poverty, geographic isolation and limited resources. Many Na`alehu students do not live in areas with productive soil and a consistent supply of water. This project teaches students the gardening practices that are applicable to the area’s rugged and diverse landscape and align with HMSA’s Blue Zone Project, which promotes smart choices and healthy living. This project consists of four major components: Honu Hatchling: Seedlings; Campus Beautification & Outdoor Learning Spaces; Garden Renovation & Hydroponic Exploration; and Science and Health Standards-Based Connections.

“The beauty of school gardens is that students engage in hands-on scientific research and observations, plot garden beds or estimate their harvest using math skills, learn about the health benefits of vitamin A while eating carrots they grew themselves,” said Alison Yahna, Parent Community Network Coordinator at Naalehu Elementary School. “Academic scores improve because education becomes exciting, relevant and applied. Students get to solve real-world problems and invent real-world solutions to the challenges our community faces as they interact with local farmers and entrepreneurs.”

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 at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a master of business administration in international commerce from Harvard University in 1927. His business career spanned 70 years, during which time he founded several successful enterprises including 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 including the Hawaii Immigrant Preservation Center, Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation and the Japanese Cultural Centers in Hawaii and San Francisco.

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 over 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 eight consecutive years. Island Insurance holds a financial strength rating of “A” (Excellent) from A.M. Best Company. For more information, visit its website at: www.islandinsurance.com.

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