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Leilehua principal named state’s best

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    Leilehua High School's Samiann "Aloha" Coleman, third from left, was named principal of the year by the Hawaii Association of Secondary School Administrators. Also pictured are award presenters Noreen Clement, left, Burton Tomita and Patricia Park.

Leilehua High School Principal Samiann "Aloha" Coleman loves her students and their parents, loves her faculty and staff, loved not one bit the individual attention she received yesterday as the 2011 MetLife/National Association of Secondary School Principals Hawaii High School Principal of the Year.

Coleman received the award at a banquet at the Hale Koa Hotel. Maui Waena Intermediate School Vice Principal Jacquelyn Davis was earlier selected as the NASSP/Vircpo Hawaii State Assistant Principal of the Year.

"I’m very uncomfortable receiving an honor like this," Coleman said. "It’s just not me. Leilehua is successful because of the efforts of so many more people than just me. Everyone on staff at Leilehua loves our students like they were our own, and we all do whatever is necessary so that they can succeed."

The school has a student population of approximately 1,900, many of them from military families.

From 2008 to 2010, 97 percent of all students entering their senior year were able to graduate. The four-year graduation rate (freshman to senior) is nearly 90 percent.

Coleman, whose own son has served Army deployments in Iraq and Afghani­stan, said she understands the emotional hardships many of her students endure when their loved ones are deployed.

"In those cases our job is to love them, take care of their emotional needs and give them whatever support they need to do well in and out of the classroom," Coleman said.

Coleman described herself as an in-the-trenches principal who enjoys getting to know her students as unique individuals.

"The high school experience isn’t just about academics," she said. "It’s also about social, emotional and physical development, and we’re all committed to making sure their experience is as positive as it can be."

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