LIHU‘E — The new semester started for schools island-wide on Kaua‘i, and Wilcox Elementary School has a new, temporarily-assigned vice principal who said he is ready to tackle the new quarter with courage.
Tavis Kagawa is now juggling between his fifth-grade online class and his new administrative role.
“I heard the news a few days before winter break started,” Kagawa said. “The transition is a little challenging because right now I have to do a little of both teacher and VP roles. I will be able to stop teaching when the replacement teacher’s hiring process is complete. I will still provide support and hopefully some STEM instruction to the students.”
Kawaga was designated to be the only online teacher for his grade level during this school year, and has been a state Department of Education licensed teacher for about eight and a half years.
“I spent the majority of my career as a technology coordinator, and this is my second year back in the classroom,” Kagawa said.
Like many teachers, Kagawa has faced a lot of challenges during the pandemic. Yet his attitude remains optimistic.
“I actually look forward to challenges, as I see them as opportunities for growth,” Kagawa said. “Distance-learning class has been really exciting (for) me. There was a lot of trial and error, but it has been fun. I really have an amazing bunch of students, and we have been learning together.”
Kagawa earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s degree in education technology from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, and a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Phoenix.
“I have been participating in leadership professional development, and recently was accepted into the state’s administrative program,” Kagawa said. “When the position became vacant, there was a discussion with (the) administration, and it was decided that this would be a great opportunity for me.”
According to Kagawa, Principal Corey Nakamura encouraged him to apply for the administrative program.
“It gives me great pleasure to welcome Tavis Kagawa as the temporary-assigned vice principal at Wilcox Elementary School,” Nakamura said. “I am confident that Mr. Kagawa will continue to serve our school well.”
Although Kagawa just started in his new role, he still remains focused on his students’ well-being.
“It’s a little too early for me to feel like a VP,” Kagawa said. “However, I look forward to the fact that I will be able to help more stakeholders in the Wilcox Elementary community. This is just a semester-long assignment for me, so I really hope to improve our school’s digital citizenship and technology skills.”
“I love teaching Kaua‘i’s keiki because I love our island,” Kagawa said. “I would love nothing more than for our students to become highly successful and help make this island an even better place. The new role involves a lot of support to a variety of moving pieces that happen at the school. I will be primarily responsible for grades three to five.”
What is your favorite subject to teach?
“My favorite subject to teach hands down is math,” Kagawa said. “ I also enjoy STEM (science, technology, engineering nd mathematics) because it’s something that looks to the future. I try to remind myself that we are preparing these students not in the life that we have lived, but rather for the life that they will live. And that is a long time from now.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
“I recently started taking up running since the pandemic, and hope to do a marathon before I’m 40,” Kagawa said. “I also like playing guitar, gardening, cooking and kayak fishing.”
He continued: “I am currently working with some colleagues on developing a podcast for Hawai‘i educators. We have done some pilot episodes, but are still fine-tuning the title.”
Kagawa’s final thought
“I would really like to just give a big shout-out and mahalo to everyone at Wilcox Elementary: teachers, students, parents and community members,” Kagawa said. “I have been there less than two years and I am overwhelmed with their support, acceptance and kindness. I really hope that I can give back what I have received in my time there. Also, I want to tell everyone to hang in there.
“The pandemic has affected us all in different ways. The students will recover from this learning speed bump. We just need to keep everyone healthy and safe. Keep positivity in our minds, aloha,” Kagawa said.
Stephanie Shinno, features, education, business, and community reporter can be reached at 245-0424 or email@example.com.