LIHUE — Theresa Koki of the county’s Life’s Choices said they had to come and support Cherie Wilson Balisacan on Monday afternoon.
Balisacan blessed and dedicated the Wilson Driving School at the Lihue Shell Plaza, 3178 Kuhio Highway.
“I have been teaching classes at Waimea High School,” Balisacan said. “Now, I have my own dedicated location in Lihue, a newly renovated classroom with an environment conducive to learning.”
Wilson Driving School offered free teen tuition scholarship valued at $350 and gift certificates from the school during the celebration.
“This is in my blood,” Balisacan said. “From my father, John ‘Pancho’ Wilson, a retired KPD sergeant and driver education instructor, to my brother, Randall Ioane Wilson, currently with the County of Kauai as a commercial driver’s license examiner and retired driver education instructor. I’m just continuing the legacy.”
Balisacan said she enrolled in driver education instructor classes at Windward Community College on Oahu in 2004, making the trek to Oahu every weekend for seven months to become certified.
“There were a lot of tears, sweat, and finally joy at that time in my life because I worked full-time at Waimea High School and was a widowed mother raising two young daughter on my own,” Balisacan said. “But I knew this would benefit our family in the long run. I am grateful to have supportive parents who helped at that time.”
The longtime driving instructor said she remembers her first class at Kauai High School.
“I was nervous at first, but it became natural because I felt like I was with my father, again,” Balisacan said. “I absolutely loved it! As my classes got bigger and demand grew, I asked my older brother Randall to help me.”
Following a hiatus while her daughters were finishing high school and college, Balisacan returned to driving instruction.
“I was ecstatic when I was able to return to teaching drivers education two years ago,” she said. “Although I still work full-time at Waimea High School, I look forward to my afternoons and evening when I teach driver’s education. People might think I’m crazy, but I truly love my job, and it shows with the awesome students I have. I make sure they learn through exciting lessons, interactive games, instructional videos, and more. It is my intent to educate my students through motivational techniques, instilling life-long attitudes for safe driving.”
Kimberly Nizo, the Kauai advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and Kauai Police Sgt. Mark Ozaki lent their support by offering displays and handouts on some of the distractions to safe driving.