Gov. David Ige and Department of Education Superintendent Keith Hayashi presented Michael Ida of Kalani High School with the 2023 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year award in a ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion on Monday.  

Ida teaches computer science and math, the subject Hawaii’s public school students struggled with most throughout 2020 and 2021. However, he says he is optimistic about students’ recovery, now that in-person learning has resumed. 

“The kids are great, the kids are up for the challenge. It’s about meeting them where they are and not expecting all of them to be on the same page,” he said. 

Kalani Highʻs Michael Ida, center, is named 2023 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year. Department of Education/2022

Kalani’s computer science program, which Ida helped launch, started as two introductory classes, and is now a robust program offering advanced placement calculus and computer science and an affiliated computer science club. He also coaches the math team. 

Ida was selected from more than 12,500 HIDOE educators statewide. He will go on to represent Hawaii in the National Teacher of the Year program in Washington, D.C., in 2023. 

All 16 teacher of the year finalists, one from each of Hawaii’s complex areas and one from the state’s public charter schools, walked to the stage bedecked in lei to accept awards from Ige.  

Hayashi said that the ceremony carried added importance this year, as teachers transitioned from the pandemic-induced stresses of last year into the academic and behavioral challenges of the year ahead. 

The state’s teachers also continue to face economic challenges. Adjusted for cost of living, Hawaii public school teachers were the lowest paid educators in the U.S. last year. But next month, more than 70% of Hawaii’s public school teachers, including Ida, will see a significant bump in their paychecks

Ida, however, says he doesn’t pay too much attention to his pay stub. “Whatever comes in, as long as I have enough to pay the rent — it’s good,” he said.

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