YWCA Leader Honoree Catherine Payne celebrated by students - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

YWCA Leader Honoree Catherine Payne celebrated by students

By Malika Dudley - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The first thing you notice about Catherine Payne is her presence. The YWCA Leader Honoree is unassuming, humble, and has a quiet confidence that instantly makes you feel at ease. Even after thirty-seven years of leading, she's still surprised by the recognition. She said, "This one came completely out of the blue. It was a very big surprise."

Her career in the education field started in 1973. She explained, "I student taught at Kalani High School and then the following year after doing some substitute teaching I was placed at Nanakuli High School."

After teaching there for nine years, Payne began to rise in the ranks. She said, "I became Waianae High School vice principal for two years and in 1986 I moved to Olomana School where I was principal."

It's because of her work with the at-risk youth of Olomana School that she was nominated and won the National Milken Award. "What those students taught me is that no matter how difficult your life is and how low you may sink, if people believe and see something good in you, there's a really good chance you can rise above that."

Payne was surprised again by that award. She's earned numerous accolades for her work as a teacher, volunteer, principal, and yes, leader. In 1995, she became the Principal of Farrington High School and after 15 years, to the chagrin of her students, she retired last August. Her students even wrote a song for her, thanking Payne and expressing that she was the greatest principal they'd had.

"This is what we live for. When our students come back and say you made a difference," Payne said.

All five YWCA Honorees will be recognized on Wednesday, June 8th, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

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