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Aiea Intermediate Principal Awarded $25,000

Tom Kurashige, Principal, Aiea Intermediate School and Island Insurance Foundation 2011 Leadership Awardee

The Island Insurance Foundation presented its seventh annual Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award of $25,000 to Aiea Intermediate School Principal Tom Kurashige at the annual Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation Dinner held on April 29th at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa.

The award, named in honor of the late Masayuki Tokioka, founder of Island Insurance Company, Ltd., is presented 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.

“Principal Kurashige exemplifies the type of leadership that can transform our public schools into model learning institutions,” said Tyler Tokioka, Island Insurance Foundation President.  “By recognizing outstanding principals such as Tom, it is our hope that his accomplishments will inspire others in public education,” Tokioka added.

Kurashige received $15,000 for a school project of his choice and an additional $10,000 cash award.  The Island Insurance Foundation also presented a $2,000 cash award to the top two semi-finalists, Principal Dale Castro of Mililani Waena Elementary School and Principal Ann Mahi of Roosevelt High School.

Dale Castro, Principal, Mililani Waena Elementary School and Ann Mahi, Principal, Roosevelt High School

Eleven candidates were nominated for the award.  They each received $1,000 and a commemorative plaque, which were presented to them at a recognition ceremony on April 2nd.

The other eight nominees are:  Susan Alivado, Paia Elementary (Paia, Maui); Sherry Kobayashi, Ewa Beach Elementary (Ewa Beach, Oahu); Debbie Lindsey, Koloa Elementary (Koloa, Kauai); Pauline Masaniai, Kahuku Elementary (Kahuku, Oahu); Dennis O’Brien, Ernest Bowen deSilva Elementary (Hilo, Hawaii); Bonnie Tabor, Waikiki Elementary (Honolulu, Oahu); Suzanne Yamada, Palisades Elementary (Pearl City, Oahu); and Joe Yamamoto, Maunaloa Elementary (Maunaloa, Molokai).

“We have created and fostered a culture at this school that believes accountability to ensure learning lies not to the principal but to the students they teach,” said Tom Kurashige, Principal of Aiea Intermediate. “Through their commitment and caring, teachers have become significant adults for our students whose influence and impact extend far beyond the years students spend at this school.”

“As the leader of the school, he models a constant need to change and stay ahead of the game,” said Rory Ikeda, Curriculum Coordinator at Aiea Intermediate School. “As a true educator with a passion to provide meaningful learning opportunities for youngsters, he is never satisfied because there is work to be done.”

Teachers at Aiea Intermediate are now seeking to enlarge their model scale aquaponics system into a production model and use it as a focal point for inter-disciplinary instruction and for hands-on application of science, math, and engineering concepts.  They envision that student entrepreneurs can have powerful learning through a business that markets the tilapia and crops produced at the school.  Kurashige plans to use the award to support the team’s ambitious efforts to power the aquaponics system with wind and solar energy.

“The innovative leadership of Mr. Kurashige has been paramount in the transformation of Aiea Intermediate,” said retired principal Aileen Hokama. “He is the quintessential principal, a professional of extraordinary skill, focused vision, boundless creativity, strength of character and an undeniable passion for student success.”

Kurashige has been a principal for 22 years, 11 of which have been with Aiea Intermediate School.

Criteria for the award were based on research done by the Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy at the University of Washington.  The study concluded that school leaders can advance powerful and equitable learning by: establishing a focus on learning; building professional communities that value learning; engaging external environments that contribute to learning; acting strategically and sharing leadership; and managing improvement activities based on student performance data.  The awards program is being administered by the Public Schools Foundation of Hawaii.

An immigrant from Japan, Mr. Tokioka moved to Hawaii at age 12 and graduated from McKinley High School in 1921.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a Master of Business Administration degree in international commerce from Harvard University in 1927.  His business career spanned 70 years, during which he founded several successful enterprises such as the Island Insurance Companies, International Savings & Loan Association, Ltd. and National Mortgage & Finance Company, Ltd. He was also a driving force in establishing many community-focused entities such as the Hawaii Immigrant Preservation Center, Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation and the Japanese Cultural Centers in Hawaii and San Francisco.

The Island Insurance Foundation was established by Island Insurance Company, Ltd., Hawaii’s largest locally owned and managed insurance carrier, offering a full range of property and casualty protection.  Founded in downtown Honolulu in 1939, Island Insurance has been serving Hawaii’s families and businesses for over 70 years and is the only Hawaii-based company to be recognized as one of the Top 50 property & casualty insurance companies in the nation by the Ward Group for three consecutive years.  Island Insurance has earned financial strength ratings of “A” (Excellent) from A.M. Best Company and an “A” (Strong) rating from Fitch Ratings.  For more information, visit its website at: www.islandinsurance.com.


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