Nanakuli principal receives national recognition for her leadership in education

Nanakuli principal receives national recognition for her leadership in education
Nanakuli Elementary principal named 2021 Hawaii National Distinguished Principal. (Source: Hawaii DOE)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hawaii elementary principal received a big surprise during a staff meeting this week.

Nanakuli Elementary School principal, Lisa Ann Higa, was named Hawaii’s National Distinguished Principal of the year.

This national award annually recognizes elementary and middle school principals from across the nation for their exemplary achievements.

She was surprised during a staff meeting with lei and balloons.

“You’re doing it in this community where they need people like you who believe in them and their potential. Who love them so much that you will do whatever it takes to make sure the kids are successful,“ said Deputy Superintendent Phyllis Unebasami.

Higa has been a principal at Nanakuli Elementary for seven years.

“I think I learn every day from people in general — students, adults, community members and visitors — and you’re always looking for school improvement, success of a community,” Higa said.

“It’s so touching when you work with great people, and it’s all about the people for me. And that’s what makes the school shine and that’s why we are called the ‘golden sunshines’!”

The Hawaii Department of Education said the school has seen big improvements in student academics, teacher retention and parent engagement through Higa’s work as principal.

As a reward for this national recognition, Higa received a $1,500 award from sponsors at HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union.

She was also invited to Washington, D.C. to be acknowledged for her leadership along with other principals from across the country.

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