The University of Hawai‘i is thrilled to congratulate three UH Mānoa College of Education alumni, Masaru Uchino, Kelly Sutcliffe and Jessica Villanueva for receiving the prestigious Milken Educator Award for their outstanding contributions to students and colleagues at their respective elementary schools.
On Tuesday, February 2, 2017, Governor David Ige and First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige joined Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken in presenting the Milken Educator Award to Uchino at Momilani Elementary School and Sutcliffe at President Thomas Jefferson Elementary School later in the afternoon. Villanueva was honored at an all-school assembly at Suisun Elementary in California on Wednesday, February 3, 2017.
The prestigious Award includes an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. Uchino, Sutcliffe and Villanueva are among up to 35 honorees who will receive this national recognition for 2016-17.
There’s an art to becoming a “Math Master,” literally, as Momilani Elementary School teacher Masaru Uchino of Pearl City guides his third-grade students from STEM to STEAM in the classroom. He writes, produces, choreographs, scores and directs the annual third-grade drama production, which is aligned with state standards and reveals a positive social message. With plots like Guardians of the GLO Crystals and Kingdoms of the Water Cycles, Uchino’s dynamic teaching methods captivate students, parents and colleagues with his creative ways of instruction.
“Working in international business before education, Masaru Uchino appreciates the skills needed to compete in a fast-paced global economy,” said Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken. “Thanks to Masaru’s high level of preparation, his students are on a pathway to become the innovators and visionaries of the future. I am proud to have Masaru join our family of Milken Educators, and look forward to even greater achievements to come.”
Uchino earned a Bachelor of Arts in social studies, with a minor in educational studies, in 2001 from the University of California, Irvine, and a Master of Education in educational technology from UH Mānoa in 2011.
Numbers and letters go hand-in-hand, especially if you’re a fourth grader solving multi-step word problems or engineering STEM projects in Kelly Sutcliffe’s class at President Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Honolulu. Using mnemonic devices so students can remember the steps, fourth-graders Answer, Compute and Explain (ACE) their understanding of the concept by showing the process. Sutcliffe’s student-centered approach promotes creative teamwork, leadership and problem-solving within a culture of respect as students study together to present their work and help teach the class.
“Kelly Sutcliffe motivates her students to ‘be the best you can be!’ and achieve increasingly higher results. This performance-driven mindset imbues a sense of purpose and preparation for the challenges of the future,” said Lowell Milken. “We welcome Kelly to the Milken Educator family, and are excited to follow her bright future in teaching—our nation’s most noble profession.”
Sutcliffe earned a Bachelor of Science in elementary STEM education from the College of New Jersey in 2005 and a Master of Education in math curriculum studies, magna cum laude, from UH in 2014.
“Jessica Villanueva focuses on meeting the individual needs of her students, maximizing the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley, who is also a 1994 Indiana Milken Educator. “Her determination to help teachers and students thrive is woven into everything she does, from mentoring colleagues and leading building-level teams to welcoming parents and families into the school community. I congratulate Jessica and look forward to her contributions to the national Milken Educator Network.”
An important way that Villanueva prepares her second-graders for the future is integrating technology into her classroom. Her students use Google Slides to put together presentations and iMovie to create book trailers promoting their favorite stories. All along, students learn research skills, collaborate with their peers, and hone their public speaking skills as they present their work to the class, parents and community members.
Villanueva earned a Bachelor of Education in elementary education and special education in 2007 from UH Mānoa.
Photo credit: Milken Family Foundation