WAILUKU - Two staff members at Iao Intermediate School have been honored with awards from their respective professional organizations.
Claire Bediamol was named the Secondary School Counselor of the Year by the Hawaii State Counselors Association while the Hawaii Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance tapped Matthew Birmingham as the 2011 Physical Education Teacher of the Year.
Iao counselor Ann Wordeman nominated her colleague for the award, saying that the overall demeanor and focus of the other counselors at Iao School changed when Bediamol became the department chairwoman.
Iao intermediate School counselor Claire Bediamol poses on campus Wednesday. She has been named Secondary School Counselor of the Year by the Hawaii State Counselors Association.
The Maui News MATTHEW / THAYER photo
"Her positive nature and hard work ethic has inspired other counselors to have a more positive approach to the students and staff," Wordeman wrote. "Just watching her work, seeing her enthusiasm and genuine caring is enough to make people notice her ability to reach others on their level."
Before Bediamol's arrival at Iao, Wordeman described the department as often fractured and seemly unproductive. But the department improved when Bediamol came along and started positive projects such as sending letters and calling parents with grade reports, and organizing get-togethers for new students to meet other new students.
Bediamol, who is assigned to work with 8th-graders, keeps her door open for chatting and games with her students.
"She helps students set realistic goals for their own success whether it is with family members, friends or academics. She is always willing to listen and provide guidance," Wordeman said.
Birmingham also received plenty of praise from a colleague in his department, dance teacher Julie Taketa.
"Matt has an innovative teaching style that the students really respond to. He is a positive male influence for the students and models 'doing what's right' as well as the physical component," Taketa wrote.
Birmingham takes time to give extra help to the students who need it most and tries to give individual attention, for example, to beginner swimmers after school.
"The students are so proud of themselves and get such a self-esteem boost when they can go confidently in the water and swim with their family and friends," Taketa said.
Taketa said that Birmingham is also a leader amongst teachers, helping those in his department achieve their professional goals. He keeps his colleagues, according to Taketa, "working toward outcome-focused teaching and lifelong physical education skills."