The Department of Education recognized Jackie Freitas for her dedication to her students and colleagues at Leilehua High School.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Hawaii Department of Education named Leilehua High School’s Jackie Freitas as the 2024 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year.

Freitas, a natural resources teacher, was chosen from more than 13,000 educators in Hawaii. An alum of Leilehua High, Freitas has taught at the school for the entirety of her 13-year career.

The ceremony at Washington Place recognized 16 finalists selected from the 15 complex areas, as well as the state’s charter school system. Gov. Josh Green, Superintendent Keith Hayashi and Michael Ida, Hawaii’s 2023 teacher of the year from Kalani High School, were also in attendance.

“It’s clear that Jackie’s passion and innovative teaching methods allow students to reach new horizons,” Hayashi said. “We are grateful to have teachers like Jackie, who do so much to help elevate our Hawaii public school system.”

The 16 finalists nominated for the State Teacher of the Year award pose for a photo at Washington Place on Tuesday. (Hawaii Department of Education photo)

Hayashi also recognized Freitas for her dedication to Leilehua High School’s natural resources program, which provides students with hands-on experience with hydroponics, bee apiaries and more. Since joining the program, Freitas has pioneered a new initiative at the high school allowing students to sell and donate produce to local families.

“Everything I do is for my students,” Freitas said, adding that she was not expecting to receive the honor.

Freitas will go on to represent Hawaii in the National Teacher of the Year Program, which provides year-long professional development and training to selected educators across the country. The program will name a national winner in the spring.

Civil Beat’s education reporting is supported by a grant from Chamberlin Family Philanthropy.

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