Teacher helps students dream big

WAIMEA – An educator for 21 years, Waimea High School teacher Ginny Hori has

encouraged students to do their best and keep an eye out for the


Five years ago, Hori stepped up her efforts in this vein by joining

the National Youth Leadership Forum, a Washington, D.C-based organization that

helps students plan their careers.

Over the last five years, Hori has

nominated 23 students to attend forums on the mainland where they have met

industry leaders in law, medicine, defense, intelligence and diplomacy.


the forums, the students are challenged to solve problems and are encouraged to

become leaders. In general, the students return to Kaua’i with a better

understanding of what careers in their chosen fields might be all about, Hori


Donna Weldin, executive director of National Youth Leadership Forum,

has high praise for Hori’s work.

“To really look into the eyes of young

people and to help them figure out some of the things they do best and what

profession they wish to pursue is above the call of duty,” Weldin


This year, Hori nominated three students to attend forums. One was an

18-year-old graduate with a 3.8 grade point average, has leadership qualities,

was a member of the school’s debate team and wants to be a lawyer, Hori said.

Also nominated is a 16-year-old junior with a 3.9 gpa who has leadership

qualities and wants to become a veterinarian. The student plans to attend

Hawaii Pacific University and major in pre-med before going to veterinary


The students covered their own travel cost to the forums in Los

Angeles and Chicago. A third student was nominated to attend a forum but chose

not to attend, Hori said.

Hori said she got involved with the program five

yeas ago because she wanted to enhance career opportunities for students at

Waimea High.

“Because we are such a small place doesn’t mean that they

cannot go further,” Hori said. “We encourage them to step out of their comfort

zone to better themselves.”

The forums also offered a way for students to

begin networking with students from across the nation and with


Hori selects students on the basis of their leadership

qualities, academic accomplishments and desire to enter a particular field.

Hori said she reviews the academic records of students when they were

junior and seniors, consults with their counselors, reviews high school

transcripts and talks with the students about their goals and dreams.


they have returned from the forums, Hori works with students on a college that

suits their needs and their pocketbook. If money is a major obstacle, Hori will

help them seek out scholarships.

Hori has worked as a peer education

program coordinator at the West Kaua’i high school for 11 years. During her

career, she also worked three years at Kapa’a High School and as a physical

education resource teacher at West Kaua’i schools for seven years.


teaches students who make presentations on self-esteem, drug awareness,

pregnancy, sexual assault, decison-making, listening skills and medication


The presentations are made at the high school and at Waimea

Canyon, Kekaha, ‘Ele’ele, Kalaheo and Koloa elementary schools.

Hori said

she would encourage other teachers in the school district to get involved with

the National Youth Leadership Forum.

“It doesn’t take a lot of time, and

the rewards are so great,” Hori said.

This year, more than 11,000 students

were expected to participate in forums on law, medicine, defense., intelligence

and diplomacy.

The leadership forum is a non-partisan, non-profit

educational organization. Additional information is available at


Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681

(ext. 225) or [



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