KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mauka Lani Elementary School teacher Bryan Rankie was honored Friday morning as the National Milken Educators of Hawaii's "Teacher of Promise."
Rankie received a plaque, a gift and $1,000 through a sponsorship from the HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union. The award annually recognizes a teacher who demonstrates excellence in the field and the highest qualities of a professional educator during the first four semesters in the classroom. Established in 2007, the award alternates annually between elementary and secondary school teachers.
A New York native, Rankie joined Mauka Lani Elementary in 2011 as a general education fifth-grade teacher and had an immediate impact.
"Bryan has an excellent rapport with everyone within our school, especially the students," said Mauka Lani Elementary Principal Shelley Ferrara. "He has an innate ability to connect with students through their academic strengths and interests.
Within the first week of school, a Mauka Lani teacher unexpectedly resigned, meaning the school would need an immediate replacement for a general education position in an inclusion classroom.
"Without any hesitation Bryan volunteered to move to the inclusion classroom, explaining that he felt comfortable taking on the extra responsibility," recalled Ferrara. "This was our first experience with Bryan's selflessness."
Through Rankie's hard work and dedication, students in his inclusion class have closed the achievement gap and met federal annual progress benchmarks.
His dedication to students extends beyond the classroom.
During Rankie's first year of teaching, he took on many new roles and responsibilities, including coaching both the school basketball and track teams – not only to increase their athletic abilities, but also so he could better support his students academically. Rankie plans on implementing what he learns about all students in his recently elected position as School Community Council co-chair. Rankie accepted the new post to improve his understanding of what is happening in the community, school and, eventually, his classroom.
A graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y., Rankie holds a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction (Special Education Strand) and a bachelor's degree in Childhood Education.
The National Milken Educators of Hawaii (NME-Hawaii) committee members who selected Rankie for the award are all past recipients of the National Milken Educator Award. In 1996, the Hawaii Milken group formed NME-Hawaii to promote and enhance the quality of teaching and the education profession in Hawaii.