HONOLULU, Hawaiʻi - (Sept. 24, 2019) – The 2019 Kamehameha Schools Community Educator of the Year award was presented to Dawn Kau‘i Sang, the Office of Hawaiian Education Director and a visionary leader of Hawaiian immersion programs and education within the State of Hawai‘i. Wai‘ale‘ale Sarsona, vice president for Kamehameha Schools’ newly formed Hiʻialo group, presented the award to Sang at the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s (CNHA) Native Hawaiian Convention recognition luncheon on September 23 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.
The Native Hawaiian Community Educator of the Year award recognizes education leaders in Hawai‘i who nurture learning environments that successfully engage Native Hawaiians. Sang is a leading proponent of Hawaiian education and culture, and pursues endeavors that further cultivate Hawaiian culture-based learning.
“Her work to champion Nā Hopena Aʻo (HĀ) and bring it to the classroom as foundational for all of Hawaiʻi’s keiki and our statewide educational system has seen tremendous support and positive change at all levels,” said Sarsona of Sang. “She has continuously stepped up when called to serve in various capacities that advance our lāhui, and creates an environment for our haumāna, ʻohana, and kaiāulu to thrive. She is the epitome of a humble servant leader.”
After graduating from Kailua High School, Sang pursued her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She then began her career with the Department of Education (HIDOE) as a special needs teacher at Waimānalo Elementary and Intermediate School in 1997 then later taught at Hawaiian immersion schools Ke Kula Kaiapuni ʻo Ānuenue and Ke Kula Kaiapuni o Pū‘ōhala. In 2005, she became the Educational Specialist for the Hawaiian Language Immersion (Kaiapuni) program and then became actively involved in the revision of the Board of Education’s policies in 2014 and 2015, and developed BOE Policy E-3, HĀ, which encourages Hawaiian language and culture learning throughout all public schools in Hawai‘i. In 2015, Sang was appointed the first-ever role as director of the Office of Hawaiian Education. Tasked with leading the state’s 21 Hawaiian immersion programs, and improving the quality and availability of Hawaiian language, history and culture within Hawai‘i’s public schools, Sang excelled in her duties and continues to thrive as an educator who successfully engages Native Hawaiian learners.
“I am truly grateful and humbled to receive this award,” said Sang, who designated her sons Kekama and Haulani Hampe to receive the honor on stage. “Our keiki are the stewards of our future and the recipients of our teachings; it is up to all of us to help make sure they are given the right tools to succeed in life as industrious and moral people. This award is a tremendous honor, one that would not have happened if it weren’t for the teachings that I have received myself. Mahalo for believing in me and I promise to carry out my duties as an educator for all our keiki throughout the State of Hawai‘i.”
Added Kekama Hampe: “Not only does she help students like me and my peers, but she works to better the educational experience for all Native Hawaiians, and for that, I am proud to be her son.”