Hawaii's Department of Education honored Vanessa Ching of Ewa Makai Middle School Friday with the title of "Teacher of the Year."
The ceremony to recognize one outstanding educator is held annually at Washington Place.
Ching was selected among seven district finalists who represent the best from over 11,000 teachers statewide.
She was recognized for her respected career in education which began 14 years ago.
"Developing a culture of environmentally conscious students, community members and parents, Vanessa worked to designate Ewa Makai Middle as a plastic-free school and won a refillable water station in a national contest with a powerful PSA," Principal Kim Sanders said. "Vanessa and her students wrote grants to develop an organic garden, aquaponics and a composting program towards becoming a waste-free school."
Ching is originally from Maui and moved to Oahu to pursue degrees in education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
"Her dedicated work has been an incredible learning opportunity for our students and our entire campus and community have been improved as a whole,” Sanders added.
Superintendent Kishimoto and Gov. Davig Ige and the first lady were in attendance.
The teacher of the year takes home a $1,000 cash prize and a one-year lease for a 2017 Kia Forte from the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association.
She will now represent Hawaii at the National Teacher of the Year ceremony coming up in April in Washington D.C.