S.W. King Intermediate School Principal Sheena Alaiasa is the first educator from Hawaii to be named National Middle Level Principal of the Year by MetLife and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
In a surprise student assembly event held this morning at the school in Kaneohe, Alaiasa was awarded the prestigious recognition by NASSP and MetLife representatives, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi and area lawmakers.
In a news release issued this morning by the state Department of Education, NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti said, “Changing a school’s culture is essential if any other real school improvement is going to take hold.” Bartoletti added, “Sheena Alaiasa has done remarkable work to create a safe, personalized environment in which all students feel welcome and valued.”
In her four years at King Intermediate, Alaiasa has received recognition for significant contributions toward student achievement, leading the school out of restructuring and elevating it to statewide acclaim. Alaiasa also concentrated on raising the bar for Hawaiian and special education students, incorporated parent engagement and created a personalized learning environment for each child.
MetLife Vice President Derrick Kelson said, “We applaud Sheena Alaiasa for her leadership in engaging the teachers, parents, and students at King Intermediate School.”
More than 600 students in the grades 7 and 8 attend King Intermediate. Eight elementary schools feed into King; they are Ahuimanu, Benjamin Parker, Heeia, Kahaluu, Kaneohe, Kapunahala, Puohala and Waiahole.
Matayoshi said, “Principal Alaiasa is a role model for her staff and students.” Matayoshi continued, “She demonstrates what can be done when you believe in your school community, set high goals and put in the work to accomplish them.”
In May, Alaiasa was named Hawaii’s Middle School Principal of the Year. From the pool of nationwide winners, NASSP judges chose three finalists. Alaiasa was chosen over two other finalists from California and Mississippi after an intense round of interviews, which also included a PowerPoint presentation.
“The nation now knows what we’ve known for four years about Sheena’s extraordinary leadership,” said Lea Albert, complex area superintendent for Castle-Kahuku. “She is humble, articulate and leads by example. Sheena represents everything we look for in educators and leaders.”
As National Middle Level Principal of the Year, Alaiasa has won grants totaling $5,000 ($1,500 as a national finalist, and an additional $3,500 as the national winner). In September, she will be honored during a learning institute event in Washington, D.C., where state winners will share their knowledge and meet other education leaders and politicians.
Prior to becoming principal at King Intermediate, Alaiasa served as vice principal and principal at Heeia Elementary in Kaneohe. She holds a master’s degree in educational administration and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.
For more information about the NASSP, visit www.principals.org.