He quit engineering to be a teacher. Now, he's won an 'Oscar' for educators

Updated: Feb. 5, 2018 at 4:16 PM HST
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AIEA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ken Kang burst into tears Monday as his name was called in a surprise assembly at Aiea High.

He'd just learned he'd received a Milken Educator Award — the Oscars of teaching — which includes a $25,000 cash prize with no strings attached.

A graduate of Aiea High, Kang is credited with starting the school's first STEM class in 2015. He teaches students to utilize tools like coding and programming as a way to drive innovation.

And Kang's come a long way.

He started out as an English language learner in the Hawaii public school system after moving from Korea with his family.

After graduating high school, Kang got an electrical engineering degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1997 and worked as an engineer for several years before getting his post-baccalaureate degree in secondary education and educational technology in 2005.

He was given the Milken award for his dedication to technological innovation in Aiea classrooms.

"Ken's diligent work in improving technology resources and training his fellow teachers has advanced Aiea High and all the schools in the Aiea complex and shaped students' passion for STEM learning," said Hawaii State Superintendent Christina Kishimoto in a news release.

"His devotion to his alma mater is tremendous and we congratulate and thank him for being such an inspiration for our students."

The Milken Educator Award is given to early and mid-career educators who go above and beyond to motivate and inspire students, colleagues and the surrounding community.

In addition to Ishimoto, Gov. David Ige, Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Jane Foley, and Aiea High School staff and students presented Kang with the award.

Kang was one of 44 educators to receive the award this year, and the only recipient from Hawaii.

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