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Meet the 2017 Educators of the Future and the HAIS Vision Award Winners

This year, the Hawai‘i Association of Independent Schools debuted awards for students and teachers nominated by their schools.


This year’s HAIS Vision Awards went to students who celebrate diversity, care about social justice, and show leadership and integrity. Educator of the Future Award winners demonstrate leadership and creativity, promote culture, are clear communicators and make an impact. Students and teachers were nominated by their schools.


•  Educators of the Future •  

Joseph AguiarJoseph Aguiar  

Hawai‘i Baptist Academy

Aguiar is the primary force behind the creation of a 0.3-mile campus trail. The trail and extended outdoor spaces led to the creation of homeroom gardens and an outdoor classroom. Aguiar’s trail provokes students and faculty to think critically about how to utilize the entire campus for learning.



Daniela ChecinskiDaniela Checinski

Damien Memorial School

As dean of students, Checinski oversaw Damien’s successful transition from an all-boys to a coed school. With the growing population of young women, the school is emphasizing counseling, compassion and opportunity. Checinski also spearheaded the Damien ‘Ohana Project.



Staci OvertonStaci Overton

Holy Nativity School

Overton strives to encourage curiosity and growth in her classroom through project-based learning and design thinking. She often uses field trips to museums and other venues to bring lessons outside of the classroom. Her incorporation of guest speakers also challenges and encourages students to explore real-world career opportunities.



Leilani SillsLeilani Sills 

Mid-Pacific institute

Sills focuses on the needs of students, challenging both herself and students to imagine what is possible and set it as a goal. Her classes have gained her international recognition in EdTech Magazine and partnerships with GoPro and Catalog Earth.




•  vision award winners  •

Caleb BurnettCaleb Burnett

Damien Memorial School

With a record of achievement and service, Burnett is student government president and National Honor Society Chapter co-president. He is a multisport athlete, a musician and a leader in many faith-based programs. As an Eagle Scout, he organized the clearing of invasive plants from a fishpond in ‘Aiea.



Nicholas GarciaNicholas Garcia 

Island Pacific Academy

Garcia spends his time volunteering at school events, including robotics tournaments, in the technology and sound department. He is good-natured and a hard worker, always around to help. Currently he is doing an internship at a physical therapy office.




Kolbee KealohaKolbee Kealoha 

Saint Francis School

Kealoha is an active member of four honor societies: National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, Chinese Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society. As an on-camera anchor of the Morning News Broadcast team, she delivers live daily announcements. She is also part of the Video Production Team.



Cassidy OttoCassidy Otto 

Maui Preparatory Academy

Otto is proactive in her service leadership at Maui Prep and in the West Maui community. As part of the student governing body, she organizes support events for organizations such as Women Helping Women and the Lahaina Adult Day Care Center. 




Franchesca PonceFranchesca Ponce 

Damien Memorial School

Ponce is a leader in student government, a multisport athlete and a member of the National Honor Society. She is a leader in multiple faith-based service programs, and led an “immersion trip” to Kalaupapa on Moloka‘i.




Chad SchulerChad Schuler

Trinity Christian School

Schuler volunteers at various community service programs and at school through the Society of St. Christopher. He is the captain of both the volleyball and soccer teams and is a member of the National Honor Society. Under Schuler, the volleyball team took home two AACS league championships.



Naomi Yuen-SchatNaomi Yuen-Schat 

Maryknoll School

Yuen-Schat is Key Club treasurer, Speech and Debate Team co-captain and a student ambassador. She shows her dedication to the homeless and immigrant communities by routinely volunteering at 5 Loaves and 2 Fish, helping to feed the hungry. She also serves at the Kalihi Pālama Late-Night Basketball Summer League. 




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