Hawai‘i Education Association awards scholarships to three Big Island educators

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From left: Lacey Alvarez, David Brooks and Chayanee Brooks. Photo Courtesy: HEA

The Hawai‘i Educational Association, a nonprofit organization founded more than 100 years ago to support the value of the education profession, recently awarded a total of $21,500 in scholarships and grants to 17 individuals at various stages of their teaching careers, from high school graduates just entering college to experienced educators pursuing additional education to broaden their capabilities.

“It’s exciting to see so many outstanding individuals who are so passionate about the teaching profession,” said Joan Lewis, Hawai‘i Educational Association president.

The Hawai‘i Educational Association awarded five scholarships to recent high school graduates, three to continuing college students, and nine scholarships to educators. Three Hawaiʻi Island educators received scholarships.


Lacey Alvarez, who has worked with children from preschool to the fifth grade over the past eight years received a $2,000 student-teacher scholarship, sponsored by Helen MacKay Memorial. The resident of Kealakekua on the Kona Coast of Hawai‘i Island is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in early elementary/special education from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and the $2,000 Hawai‘i Educational Association scholarship will help with tuition.

She was the lead teacher at Creative Day Preschool for four years, and has been serving as an educational assistant at Holualoa Elementary School for the past four years, working with children who may have learning disabilities or may need more support while in the classroom.

Two educators from Kaʻū High & Pahala Elementary School received Ronald K. Toma scholarships for professional development for in-service public school educators, ranging from $390 to $1,000 awards.


Chayanee Brooks, a Volcano resident who has taught advanced placement English for high school students at Kaʻū High & Pahala Elementary School since 2013, is pursuing a doctoral degree in neuroscience at the Institute of Molecular Biosciences, Mahidol University, a research institution in Bangkok, Thailand, to better understand “diverse neural network connectivity” to better serve students.

David Brooks, also a Volcano resident who has been an advanced placement social studies teacher at Kaʻū High & Pahala Elementary School since 2013, is pursuing a master’s degree in Asian studies online at Mahidol University, in Bangkok, Thailand. He is developing lesson plans for courses as part of his coursework. With the support of the Hawai‘i Educational Association grant, he will do research and write a master’s thesis aligned with his teaching.

“Asian studies, human geography, economics, world history, and global studies classes all will use social, political, and economic content in their curriculums, and my research focus will be intentionally chosen to use in the classroom and to share with other social studies teachers in Hawaiʻi and across the U.S,” Brooks explained.

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