Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School teacher earns $25K grant

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School teacher Tyler Gage, right, is interviewed for the CKMS yearbook Friday as Gage’s parents, Javere and Christine Gage, and CKMS Principal Jeannie Morris look on.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School Principal Jeannie Morris applauds as Tyler Gage reacts to the announcement being made via a remote meeting Friday at the school.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School teacher Tyler Gage reacts to the announcement by Farmers Insurance Friday.

PUHI — A meeting on Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School after-school programs resulted in Tyler Gage walking off with a $25,000 grant from Farmers Insurance Hawai‘i and the Public Schools of Hawai‘i Foundation.

“The memo came out at the right time,” said CKMS Principal Jean Morris. “We needed him to be in this office when the announcement was made at a virtual Webex meeting. This was supposed to be a surprise. Even his parents, Javere and Christine Gage, are here.”

Gage was announced as one of two $25,000 grant award winners in the 2020 Education Innovation Teacher Challenge, a program that helps O‘ahu and neighbor island school teachers implement innovative and impactful learning experiences that benefit their schools, students and the greater community.

“During this challenging time for schools, teachers, students and their families, the Farmers Hawai‘i team has been inspired by the creativity, dedication and innovation showcased in proposals from teachers across the state,” said Melanie Joseph, marketing manager for Farmers Insurance Hawai‘i.

“The ideas proposed by our six visionary finalists run the gamut from problem-solving for the pandemic to entrepreneurial educational experiences, and are designed to empower students with the knowledge and skills to succeed — inside and out of the classroom.”

Gage’s presentation on “Pueo Busines Leaders of Tomorrow” was a winner in the neighbor islands competition, edging out two teachers from Maui. The O‘ahu winner is yet to be announced.

“The goal of the project is to have students grow plants hydroponically,” said Gage who teaches career technology education business to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students. “Then, they’ll create products to sell at the local farmers’ market for the business side of growing. The proceeds will be donated back into the community to a local nonprofit organization.”

The COVID-19 pandemic put strong limitations on what students are to do in the school’s hydroponic greenhouse and preparation of the harvested produce in the school kitchen, Gage said.

“For the first quarter, they experimented with growing various spicy peppers, herbs and even strawberries,” Gage said. “The idea with the harvest is to come up with less-perishable products such as dehydrated herbal blends and teas.”

Morris, in congratulating Gage on the honor, said he is a fine representative of CKMS.

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