East Hawaii News

Local Students Join Rural Education Force

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Two Big Island high school graduates are part of a group of 30 new teachers, all members of Teach For America-Hawai’i, to join the education force on the Big Island.

The 30 Big Island teachers are part of a larger 90-person Teach For America-Hawai’i group, and a fraction of the 50,000 leaders who are committed to expanding educational opportunities across 52 urban and rural regions nationwide.

In partnership with the Hawai’i Department of Education, Teach for America-Hawai’i has worked to recruit and engage talented and committed teachers for a diverse array of backgrounds and academic interests to teach in rural schools.

Twenty-seven of the 90 members to join this fall are from Hawai’i. Eight are Native Hawaiian and twelve graduated from Hawai’i public schools.


Among them is Debra Cannoles, a graduate of Honoka’a High School and the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.

“I’m excited to join the 2015 Teach For America–Hawai‘i corps and teach on my home island as part of the movement to help all students get a quality education,” said Cannoles. “As a single mother of two, I understand what’s at stake for the generation of keiki in our classrooms, and I’m passionate about getting into the classroom and making a difference.”

Cannoles is now at Keonepoko Elementary School.


In addition, Lihau Godden has returned to her alma mater, Ke Kula ʻo ʻEhunuikaimalino. She attended the school prior to attending Kamehameha Schools-Kapālama and Lewis & Clark College.

“As the school year begins, we’re excited to welcome nearly 90 new teachers to our Hawai‘i public schools,” said Jill Baldemor, executive director of Teach For America–Hawai‘i. “Our 2015 corps is an inspiring group of diverse individuals, many of whom share the backgrounds of their students, and all of whom bring new perspectives and passion to their classrooms.

“They join many Teach For America teachers who continue to teach in Hawai‘i public schools alongside other committed teachers and communities collectively contributing to stronger outcomes and opportunities for our keiki. They also join a strong network of Teach For America alumni working inside and out of the education sector to improve the opportunities of young people and fight for educational equity.”


The incoming corps members will join a larger Teach For America ‘ohana in Hawai‘i of more than 300 individuals, including teachers, school leaders, elected officials, and professionals in law, business, and medicine. Nationally, a total of 8,800 Teach For America corps members will be joining more than 42,000 alumni of the program working across sectors to ensure that all children have an equal chance in life.

“Teach For America is a valuable partner for our schools,” said Hawai‘i State Department of Education deputy superintendent Stephen Schatz. “Hawai‘i students have made significant progress and we’re grateful for the work of our outstanding teachers. This partnership helps to develop teaching professionals who bring a high level of energy and dedication to their classrooms.”

Teach For America-Hawai’i works with communities to expand educational opportunities for children facing the challenges of poverty. The program was brought to the Big Island in 2009 after being founded on Oahu in 2006.

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