Kauai News

Kōloa Elementary principal among 15 nominated for excellence in school leadership award

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Leila Maeda-Kobayashi, Kōloa Elementary School

The Island Insurance Foundation, leaders from the Hawai‘i State Department of Education and public officials recognized the state’s 15 top public school principals Saturday at ceremonies in Honolulu for the 17th Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award.

Each of the 15 nominees – who lead public elementary and secondary schools in all four counties – received a $1,000 cash award.

The nominees included Leila Maeda-Kobayashi, principal of Kōloa Elementary School on Kauaʻi.


The winning principal and two semi-finalists will be announced at the Public Schools of Hawai‘i Foundation annual dinner on April 20.

The top principal will receive $25,000: a $10,000 personal cash award and $15,000 toward a school project of the principal’s choice. Two semi-finalists will each receive a $2,000 cash award.

The 15 nominees for the top Department of Education principal for 2023. Photo Courtesy: Island Insurance Foundation

The talented DOE principal-nominees for 2023 are:

  • Sharon Beck, Ka‘ū High & Pahala Elementary
  • U‘ilani Kaitoku, Hau‘ula Elementary
  • Suzie Lee, Mā‘ili Elementary
  • Nathan Maeda, Maunawili Elementary
  • Leila Maeda-Kobayashi, Kōloa Elementary
  • Amy Martinson, Highlands Intermediate
  • Komarey Moss, Red Hill Elementary
  • Jason Nakamoto, Leilehua High
  • Chad Okamoto, Pu‘u Kukui Elementary
  • Jacqueline Ornellas, Lincoln Elementary
  • Christopher Sanita, Hāna High and Elementary
  • Wesley Shinkawa, Kapolei High
  • Lisa Souza, Waiākea Intermediate
  • Kori Takaki, Kahakai Elementary
  • Jason Yoshimoto, Kamilo‘iki Elementary

Hawai‘i DOE Superintendent Keith Hayashi, Island Insurance Foundation Chairman Tyler Tokioka, Senator Carol Fukunaga, Honolulu City Councilmember Val Okimoto and a wide array of statewide Department of Education officials attended to celebrate the 15 top educational leaders.

The award honors the late Masayuki Tokioka, founder of Island Insurance Company and a proud graduate of Hawai‘i public schools. It was established in 2004 and is underwritten by the Island Insurance Foundation.

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