Ewa Makai Middle School teacher scoops up prestigious Milken Educator Award

Ewa Makai Middle School teacher scoops up prestigious Milken Educator Award
Miki Cacace was stunned after the announcement she won. Friends and fellow teachers greeted her with hugs and lei. (Source: HIDOE)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - An Ewa Makai Middle School teacher just won an award regarded as the Oscar of teaching.

Miki Cacace was surprised Tuesday with a special school assembly. Hawaii DOE Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto was joined by Gov. David Ige and his wife, First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige, in presenting Cacace with the award. Also in attendance were 30 past Milken Award recipients.

Cacace started out as a math teacher at Ewa Makai and has since grown into a role as a coding teacher.

In the class, she teaches her students the basics of coding. They put those skills to use by building games and apps that are tested and rated by their fellow classmates.

Cacase said the opportunity to teach coding just fell into her lap.

“When I came here I taught Math and I jokingly said, ‘If you ever need a coding teacher, I am the one.’ And she was like, ‘Well guess what?’ and so basically I get to do what I love and I really enjoy coming to this school and teaching my passion, so I’m lucky,” Cacace said.

Miki Cacace was stunned after the announcement she won. Friends and fellow teachers greeted her with hugs and lei Tuesday.
Miki Cacace was stunned after the announcement she won. Friends and fellow teachers greeted her with hugs and lei Tuesday. (Source: HIDOE)

Prior to becoming a teacher, she worked as a graphic designer for an advertising agency. She earned her degree from UH Manoa and went on to obtain a masters from the University of Phoenix.

For her, teaching is her way of positively impacting her community.

“I became a teacher because I wanted to make a difference,” Cacace said. “In middle school, we get to make that difference because our students are learning who they are and what they are about — we’re able to instill a growth mindset.”

She’s already received the Teacher of Promise award. Winning the Milken Award also comes with a $25,000 cash prize.

“All of us are so proud of Miki for earning this well-deserved award,” Ewa Makai Middle School Principal Kim Sanders said. “And I know she wants to share this with everyone, as we’re all about teamwork and collaboration here at Ewa Makai.”

Cacace is the 78th Hawaii teacher to win the prestigious award.

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