Island Insurance Foundation Honors 14 Public School Principals for Leadership Excellence | Island Insurance

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Island Insurance Foundation Honors 14 Public School Principals for Leadership Excellence

The Island Insurance Foundation recognized 14 outstanding Hawaii public school principals nominated for its 15th Annual Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award on Saturday, March 30.

Island Insurance Foundation President Tyler Tokioka presented each nominee with a $1,000 personal cash award.

Members of the community joined Island Insurance Foundation to honor the principals on Saturday. These special guests included Department of Education Deputy Superintendent Phyllis Unebasami and Complex Area Superintendents, as well as Honolulu City Councilmember Ron Menor, State Senators Kurt Fevella and Michelle Kidani, Keahi Renaud of Sen. Maile Shimabukuro’s office and State Representatives Cedric Asuega Gates, Scott Z. Matayoshi, Nadine Nakamura, Mark M. Nakashima, Richard Onishi and Ryan I. Yamane.

The recipient of the Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award will be announced at the Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation Dinner on Thursday, April 18.

The selected principal will receive a total of $25,000: $15,000 designated for a school project of his or her choice and an additional $10,000 as a personal cash award. Two semifinalists will each receive a $2,000 personal cash award.

The 14 nominated public-school principals are:

• Alisa Ann Estrella Bender, Hickam Elementary (Oahu)

• Heather Dansdill, Hilo Intermediate (Big Island)

• Michelle DeBusca, Ala Wai Elementary (Oahu)

• Elna Gomes, Keaau Middle (Big Island)

• Sherry Gonsalves, Kilauea Elementary (Kauai)

• Shannon “Cappy” Goo, Hahaione Elementary (Oahu)

• Stacie Kunihisa, Kanoelani Elementary (Oahu)

• Jon Henry Lee, Campbell High (Oahu)

• Rachelle Matsumura, Honokaa High and Intermediate (Big Island)

• Fred Murphy, Mililani High (Oahu)

• Deborah Nekomoto, Kapunahala Elementary (Oahu)

• Stacey Oshio, Olomana School (Oahu)

• Cynthia Rothdeutsch, Kamalii Elementary (Maui)

• John Wataoka, Waianae Intermediate (Oahu)

The award is named after Island Insurance founder Masayuki Tokioka, an immigrant from Japan, who 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 he founded successful enterprises such as Island Insurance Company, Ltd., International Savings & Loan Association, Ltd. and National Mortgage & Finance Company, Ltd. Masayuki Tokioka 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.

“My grandfather, Masayuki Tokioka, believed that education, integrity and hard work were the keys to success,” said Tyler Tokioka. “Everything that he achieved was only possible because the Hawaii public school system provided him with the foundation to pursue unlimited opportunities. This is why we are so honored to be able to recognize these principals who give so much to their students and our community.”

“In order to be a strong leader in today’s educational environment, public school principals must be dedicated, creative, community-minded and have an entrepreneurial spirit – all qualities my grandfather possessed. We hope that this award will showcase their leadership and inspire others to service in public education,” Tokioka added.

The award criteria are based on research done by the Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy at the University of Washington regarding the impact of school leadership on learning environments. The study concluded that school and district leaders can advance powerful and equitable learning by establishing a focus on learning, building professional communities that value learning, engaging external environments that contribute to learning, acting strategically and sharing leadership, and managing improvement activities based on student performance data.

The 2018 award recipient was Corinne Yogi of Kipapa Elementary in Mililani. Kipapa Elementary serves a diverse population of students, where some 52% of students receive free or reduced-priced lunches. Through the years, Yogi has fostered an “ohana culture” where students, families and community members feel welcomed. It is this strong relationship with the community that has provided the most support to the school. Prior to the start of each school year, the school’s community partners donate school supplies and clothing for the approximately one-third of students who are unable to afford new supplies. It was this community support that also helped to achieve the school’s goal of providing technological devices to each student.

Yogi used her award monies to redesign the school library for the use of the extended Kipapa ohana. This gave the entire Kipapa community access to adult education classes, after-school and evening access to technology, and supplies for projects for students from kindergarten through seniors in high school and even college. This also helps to alleviate the many barriers Kipapa area students and families encounter and offer support and options to further their education, become college- and career-ready and prepare them for a positive future.

The Island Insurance Foundation was established as the charitable arm of Island Insurance, Hawaii’s largest locally owned and managed P&C insurance carrier. Founded in downtown Honolulu, Island Insurance has been serving Hawaii’s families and businesses for nearly 80 years and is the only Hawaii-based company to be recognized as a Top 50 property & casualty insurer in the nation by the Ward Group for 11 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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