Rotary honors King Kaumuali‘i teacher

The Rotary Club of Kalepa Sunrise awarded King Kaumuali‘i Elementary teacher Rachel Furutani its third annual Teacher of the Year award.

Kalepa Sunrise President-elect Tim Hoxie presented Furutani with the award during King Kaumuali‘i’s May Day program. She received a check for $500 for her accomplishments.

Furutani is the school’s Title I coordinator and works with staff on curriculum. She has held the position for the past seven years and previously worked as a first-grade teacher.

Furutani said teaching is the best profession and King Kaumuali‘i the best place to work.

“I love knowing that what I do affects children,” she said of her job.

She described the award as a “nice surprise” but noted that it takes many teachers to help the students grow and that her peers put in 110 percent toward that goal.

The Kalepa Sunrise chapter sponsors King Kaumuali‘i Elementary and solicits nominations from that school community for the teacher of the year program. This year, more than 50 nominations were turned in representing 12 teachers.

According to a the Kalepa Sunrise chapter’s current treasurer and past president, Laurie Yoshida, Furutani stood out not only because of the number of nominations she received, but because of the wide variety of people who supported her, including fellow teachers, parents, staff and students.

“The students like how she inspires them to want to learn,” Yoshida said of Furutani.

As its sponsor school, King Kaumuali‘i Elementary receives year-round support from Kalepa Sunrise members, who donated dictionaries to all third-graders this year and regularly read to kindergarten classes, according to Yoshida.

“We are very proud of the work we do with King Kaumuali‘i School,” Hoxie said in the release. “We enjoy working with the school and hope to expand our contributions.”

Past winners include Linda Alfiller and Felicia Villalobos. The Kalepa Sunrise chapter celebrated its fifth anniversary this year. Members meet Tuesday mornings at 7:30 a.m. at Gaylord’s restaurant at Kilohana Plantation.

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