Molokai principal is honored for his innovative methods

A Molokai elementary school principal received a $3,000 award for being named a semifinalist in the ninth Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award.

Kilohana Elementary Principal Richard Stevens was honored at the Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation Dinner held Thursday at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Coral Ballroom on Oahu, said a news release from Island Insurance Foundation, the charitable arm of Island Insurance, which presented the award.

The award, named in honor of the late Masayuki Tokioka, founder of Island Insurance Co., is given 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, the news release said.

An educator for more than 30 years, Stevens has focused on creating an individualized approach for each student during his four-year tenure as head of the Molokai school, the news release said. Factors such as behavior, social interactions and relationships are examples of the many considerations analyzed when developing individual action plans for each student. This is done in collaboration with teachers, student services coordinators and resource personnel.

The completed student action plan is shared with each parent at parent teacher conferences and is used to track the quarterly progress of each student.

“Mr. Stevens establishes a focus on learning through newsletters (sent) home in keeping parents abreast of school events and how they can be an active partner in their child’s education,” said Janice Espiritu, principal of Kaunakakai Elementary.

The principal of the fellow public elementary school on Molokai added that Stevens’ school has logged double-digit gains in reading and math on the Hawaii State Assessment, and that Kilohana school continues to be a school in “good standing unconditional” – the highest ranking for schools in the state’s No Child Left Behind assessments.

Twelve candidates were nominated for the award. Principal Keith Hayashi of Waipahu High School on Oahu was named the top award winner and the recipient of the $25,000. Stevens was a semifinalist, along with Principal Chad Farias of Keaau Elementary in Hilo.

Chad Okamoto of the soon-to-be-opened Puu Kukui Elementary School in Wailuku was one of 12 nominees for the award. He received $1,000.