A Waipahu High science teacher has received the prestigious Milken Educator Award with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize.
Michael Sana is chairman of the school's science department and is a graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
The surprise announcement was made at an assembly Friday morning at Waipahu High.
The Milken Educator Award honors outstanding teachers annually.
"We believe that Michael Sana represents the top 1% of excellence in the teaching profession across the whole country," said Jane Foley of the Milken Family Foundation.
"All of a sudden I hear my name and I was like, 'No way, no way!' Then it hit me. Being in education, working with the kids, that's what it's all about. It's all about them. If they succeed, we succeed," said Sana.
Sana said his late mother inspired him as she battled cancer while he was a student at Farrington High School.
"She said she was going to be there for graduation day even though she was really sick. She made it and so my promise was I was going to get my degree and I was going to do something with it, and I did," he said.
Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said Sana's "passion for teaching and mentoring has helped dozens of students begin their college careers with a desire for rigorous scientific research."
Waipahu High Principal Keith Hayashi said many of Sana's students get college scholarships for their science work.
"Mr. Sana does so much to support our students in their efforts, not only in science, not only as a basketball coach, but helping students become better people," said Hayashi.
Sana has received 14 education awards over the last decade, including from the National Science Teachers Association.