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The Locations Foundation Teacher Award Winners!

Locations Foundation Teacher Awards 

With today’s budget cuts, Oahu classrooms are facing financial challenges forcing teachers to use their own personal funds to purchase supplies. The Locations Foundation created the Teacher Award Program to help provide educators with financial help for classroom projects and activities while recognizing their exceptional work in the classroom and community.

Teachers are nominated by members of the Locations Foundation, a non-profit arm of the largest locally owned real estate firm - Locations LLC. The award winners are selected by a committee and based on the following criteria:

  • Reinforces learning inside and outside of the classroom.
  • Engages students to participate in classroom activities.
  • Demonstrates care for his/her students, their well-being and overall development.
  • Communicates effectively with parents.
  • Participates in co-curricular activities and/or community service.

For the past 13 years, the Locations Foundation has recognized over 180 teachers and given more than $44,000 in funds. This year, there were 13 award winners from the list of nominations. Each awardee received $200, with the finalists for the Top Teacher Award receiving $300 and the winner receiving $500 to be used towards school supplies, activities, or projects. The five finalists for the Top Teacher Award are also invited to a luncheon at the Willow’s Restaurant with members of the Locations Foundation to host a pizza party for their class to celebrate with their students.


And the Winner is...

Top Teacher Esther Park

This year’s Top Teacher Award Winner was Esther Park, a fifth grade teacher at Hale Kula Elementary. Ms. Park came to Hawaii as part of the Teacher for America Program and is now in her fourth year teaching fifth grade at Hale Kula Elementary. She graduated from the University of Virginia and earned her Master’s from Johns Hopkins University. She considers many places aside from Hawaii home, including Virginia, Toronto, and Seoul.

In her spare time, she enjoys hikes, new restaurants, and jumping in the water at one of her favorite beaches.

In the classroom, she teaches her classes with the same passion, determination, and love you'd expect a mother to give to her own children. She utilizes fresh content and relevant material to continuously engage her students on a level that they can relate to. Just as important, she utilizes many traditional and non-traditional ways to keep parents updated and involved, creating the best environment for her kids to "love to learn".

Ms. Park teaches through a child-centered approach to learning. By developing lesson plans involving social media and collaborative cloud application, Ms. Park hopes to bridge the gap between children’s external, informal decision making and activity based experiences in the classroom. For example by utilizing tools such as Google Slides Ms. Park is able to reinforce learning inside the classroom. Google Slides allow students to collaborate with each other to build a presentation about colonial America with other students. Outside of the classroom,Ms. Park utilizes Facebook and online blogs to provide students opportunities to reinforce what was learned inside the class. In addition, Ms. Park arranges additional opportunities for learning provided by a range of activities conducted outside of the classroom. These include after school tutoring, catching bugs for biosphere bottles, trips to museums, and music and drama productions. Through these channels, students are able to obtain better achievement, motivation, personal development and behavior.


Congratulations to Ms. Park and all the award winners! Thank you for your dedication to shaping the future of Hawaii’s keiki.

Top Teacher Award ($500)
Esther Park, Hale Kula Elementary School

Other Finalists ($300)
Todd Cambonga, Mililani High School
Brandon Rockwell, Ma’ema’e Elementary School
Cecilia Chung, Ka’imiloa Elementary School
Gerilyn Pinnow, Iroquois Point Elementary School

Other Awardees ($200)
Justin Kanemoto, Waipahu High School
Kierstin Shimazu, Ewa Elementary School
Earleen Victorino, St. John Vianney
Chadwick Kamei, Pearl City High School
Rodrigo Veras, Kahuku High School
Michelle Cazimero, Waialua High School
Kathleen Sturgeon, Noelani Elementary School
Brad Koki, Maryknoll School