Stephanie Mew of Kapunahala Elementary is the 2016 Windward District Teacher of the Year. The third-grade instructor has taught at the Kaneohe school for 13 years and possesses 26 years of professional teaching experience.
Known for her high energy, Mew incorporates topics that interest her into her classroom to inspire students. Topics have included technology, engineering, math, robotics, science and gardening. Fostering creativity, Mew also teaches that failure is sometimes good.
“FAIL to us means First Attempt In Learning,” Mew said. “I FAIL and problem solve every day, right in front of my students.”
The Windward-area resident assertively pursues various avenues and relationships on behalf of her students, gaining the support of businesses, community, school staff and students’ families. She recently received several grants totaling $4,500 to apply toward her class’ curriculum.
When her class started the school’s garden and reaped a bountiful harvest, it symbolized keiki commitment, hard work and perseverance, and it was profiled in the media. When vandals later destroyed those garden beds, the community and organizations that had strong relationships with Mew rallied to restore the garden. Mew turned cruelty and disappointment into a real-life lesson about resiliency and teamwork.
“Stephanie is a true example of an outstanding teacher, who is open to new and unique ideas,” Principal Debbie Nekomoto said. “She loves when students are engaged and involved in work that’s relevant to their lives.”
This school year, Mew is teaching computer coding and lower-elementary robotics programming, and utilizing a new mini-computer lab and wireless SMART Board in her classroom.
Mew’s vast experience includes teaching advanced math and geometry at Chaminade University, where she also taught an intensive training course for teachers, and she served as a head teacher at Montessori Hale o Keiki on Maui. Her positions and leadership roles have taken her to Japan, Philadelphia, India, Thailand and Massachusetts.
“I’m thankful for this opportunity, which has given me a chance to reflect and reaffirm why I chose to teach,” Mew said. “I feel reenergized to do my best and make a significant contribution. This recognition is shared with the entire faculty and staff, who are caring, outstanding teachers and role models.”
Mew earned master’s degrees in elementary education and social work at Chaminade University and UH-Manoa, respectively. She received a bachelor’s degree in business administration-marketing from UH and diplomas from the Institute of Sathya Sai Education in Thailand.
Mew’s selection qualifies her for the 2016 Hawaii Teacher of the Year title, which will be announced next month.
Courtesy Jorene Barut, Communications Specialist, Windward District Office, Castle-Kahuku Complexes.