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Hawaii teacher is among 5 educators nationwide to receive $10K teaching prize

  • COURTESY HAWAII STATE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION

    Ewa Makai Middle School’s Cynthia Tong will receive the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence.

Cynthia Tong, a social studies teacher at Ewa Makai Middle School, will receive the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence, which carries a $10,000 prize, Friday in Washington, D.C.

She is one of five educators nationwide receiving the honor, which is presented by the NEA Foundation and the National Education Association.

“Cindy has been a leader in every school where she’s taught,” said Corey Rosenlee, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, which nominated her. “She’s also been an agent for change not only for the keiki in her school but for all the keiki in Hawaii.”

The honorees are also in the running for a $25,000 award, the NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence, which will be announced at the foundation’s 50th-anniversary gala Friday evening.

Tong, an eighth-grade teacher, serves on the HSTA’s board of directors, representing Leeward Oahu teachers.

Along with Tong, the other Horace Mann awardees are Cicely Woodard of Franklin, Tenn.; Dan Ryder, of Farmington, Maine; Leah Juelke, of Fargo, N.D.; and Matthew Bacon-Brenes of Portland, Ore. All were nominated by their union affiliates.

“These five educators kindle ideas, open minds, nurture confidence, and build community,” said Harriet Sanford, president of the NEA Foundation. “They keep the promise of public education by growing the hearts and minds of their students, preparing them for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.”

The awards are supported by the Horace Mann insurance company, which focuses on educators.

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