Maui News

Puʻu Kukui Elementary Teacher Earns Presidential Award

August 22, 2016, 1:51 PM HST
* Updated August 22, 1:53 PM
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Eliza Akana Yoshida.

Eliza Akana Yoshida.

Maui math teacher, Eliza Akana Yoshida is one of four teachers in Hawaiʻi who were recognized today with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Yoshida has been teaching for 13 years and in 2013, helped to open Puʻu Kukui Elementary in Wailuku, where she is currently a curriculum coordinator, and established the school’s Math Matters competition team.

She has taught fourth and fifth grade and was a State STEM Math Resource Teacher, providing professional development to teachers throughout Hawaiʻi.

Under Yoshida’s guidance, students work collaboratively while asking questions of themselves and each other.   As “mathematical thinkers,” they are able to “persevere in solving problems.”

Yoshida has a B.A. in sociology and a B.A. in American ethnic studies from the University of Washington. She has a M.Ed. in elementary education from the University of Phoenix and is certified to teach kindergarten through sixth grade elementary education.


“Being named a Presidential Award recipient is overwhelmingly gratifying and humbling,” Yoshida said. “This award validates the accomplishment of my personal goals — the same goals I set forth for my students: to set high standards, to be a lifelong learner, to reflect on learning, and to work hard and persevere. This award also represents the never-ending journey of an educator — growth through continuous learning, reflection, and refinement of our craft while always striving for excellence,” she said.


As a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching award recipient, Yoshida gets $10,000 from the National Science Foundation and a trip to Washington D.C. to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities.

“We are proud of these educators and commend them for providing our students with rigorous science and math curriculum and opportunities,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “These teachers bring their innovative skills to teaching students not only the subject matter but also expanding their students’ sense of curiosity. This recognition is well deserved.”

Other Hawaiʻi State Department of Education teachers that were recognized as PAEMST awardees include: Stan Mesina, August Ahrens El (K-6 Science awardee); Alicia Nakamitsu, Aiea High (7-12 Math awardee; and Bryan Silver, Kalani High (7-12 Science awardee).


This year, 213 mathematics and science teachers were selected nationwide for the award. Since the award’s inception in 1983, more than 4,600 teachers have been recognized and added to the growing network of educators.

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