15 head shots

The 2012 Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching award winners, from top left, Tod Aeby, Linda Furuto, Patricia Espiritu Halagao, Jennifer Higa-King, Reece Jones, Samuel Kaleikoa Kaʻeo, Peter Leong and Floyd W. McCoy, bottom from left, Veronica Ogata, Kay S. Ono, Yucheng Qin, Matthew Romaniello, Kathryn Sims, Francis Takahashi and John Zuern

The Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching is awarded by the Board of Regents as tribute to faculty members who exhibit an extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity and personal values that benefit students.

2012 Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching honorees

Tod Aeby
Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health, John A. Burns School of Medicine, UH Mānoa

His students say Tod Aeby is a humble and caring doctor and a good listener. His calm and gentle personality puts his patients and students at ease. Aeby went to medical school at the University of New Mexico and completed his internship and residency at JABSOM. He is the recipient of at least 11 local and national awards for his excellent work.

Linda Furuto
Associate Professor, Math and Science Division, University of Hawaiʻi, UH West O’ahu

Linda Furuto treasures each one of her students and considers it a gift to be in the classroom. She received her bachelor’s degree from BYU, master’s degree from Harvard University and her PhD from UCLA. Furuto previously received the Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2011. She grew up in Hauʻula and enjoys spear-fishing, sailing with the Polynesian Voyaging Society and playing the organ.

Patricia Espiritu Halagao
Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum Studies, College of Education, UH Mānoa

Patricia Espiritu Halagao has a teaching philosophy based on “stirring the heart, mind and soul” of students and inspiring them to promote equality and social justice in the world. Halagao teaches multicultural education and social studies. Her students describe her courses as “vehicles of self-discovery.” Halagao received her PhD from the University of Washington, Seattle. She is the co-author and executive director of Pinoy Teach, one of the first multicultural and pedagogical curricula of Filipino Americans in the nation. She received the first Young Pioneer Award from the Filipino American National Historical Society in 2000.

Jennifer Higa-King
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Division of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Honolulu Community College

Her students say Jennifer Higa-King is a role model who enriched their lives intellectually and personally. Higa-King was born and raised in Hawaiʻi and graduated from Pearl City High School. She received her MS and PhD in experimental psychology at Washington State University. She is married to George King, an associate researcher at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. They have a daughter, Kaitlyn, a student at St. Andrew’s Priory.

Reece Jones
Associate Professor and Graduate Chair, Department of Geography, College of Social Sciences, UH Mānoa

Reese Jones teaches courses that “traverse human geography through the economic, political, national, cultural, environmental and contemporary”. Jones received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. His students say he brings enormous enthusiasm to his teaching and demonstrates deep respect for his students. One student said Jones’ teaching style created “the most dramatic change in perspective and understanding of the world by any individual course.”

Samuel Kaleikoa Kaʻeo
Associate Professor, Hawaiian Studies, Department of Humanities, UH Maui College

Samuel Kaleikoa Kaʻeo is a proud graduate of Baldwin High School on Maui and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Prior to returning to his hometown, Kaʻeo was a lecturer in Hawaiian language at UH Mānoa, a teacher at the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program at King Kekaulike High School and the Culture and education program manager for the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission. Kaʻeo was born and raised on Maui. He and his family reside in Waiohuli.

Peter Leong
Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Technology, College of Education, UH Mānoa

Peter Leong is credited with organizing the first virtual graduation at the University of Hawai’i, for families who were not able to travel to Hawaiʻi for commencement ceremonies. Leong has five years of experience in the development and delivery of online courses and distance education. His colleagues say Leong is one of the few Mānoa and system faculty members to teach and conduct research in virtual worlds. He says, “I strive to create learning environments that allow learners to create meaning from what they experience rather than “learning” my understanding as a teacher.”

Floyd W. McCoy
Professor and Chair, Department of Natural Sciences, Windward Community College

For more than two decades, Floyd McCoy has taught his students to wake up and “smell the rocks.” His colleagues and students agree he is a master teacher of geology and oceanography who has inspired a generation of students at Windward Community College. McCoy received his PhD in geological sciences at Harvard University. He is among the faculty members who founded the Polynesian Voyaging program at WIndwardᾹthe first such program in the UH community college system.

Veronica Ogata
Associate Professor, Department of Social Sciences, Division of Arts and Sciences, Kapi’olani Community College

Veronica Ogata knew early on that she would become a special education teacher because both her mom and sister have disabilities. Ogata received her BS in family resources, MEd in special education and her PhD in exceptionalities from UH Mānoa. She believes that learning is a two-way street, not just a process that involves “depositing” knowledge into students. Ogata runs the education program at Kapi’olani Community College, where she is shaping future elementary and special education teachers.

Kay S. Ono
Associate Professor, Business Technology, Business Division, Leeward Community College

Kay Ono’s parents were interned during World War Two when her mother taught typing without typewriters. Ono believes her parents’ experiences, values and morals shaped her strong work ethic and desire to help students. She earned her bachelors and masters degrees from Loma Linda University, La Sierra and had a successful high school teaching career in California before moving to Hawaiʻi. She received the National Business Education Association’s Teacher of the Year award in 2011 and has been recognized many times for her vast accomplishments.

Yucheng Qin
Assistant Professor, Department of History, Social Sciences Division, College of Arts and Sciences, UH Hilo

Yucheng Qin received his MA in History from Peking University in China, and a PhD in history from the University of Iowa. He has been an assistant professor of Asian history at UH Hilo’s history department and assistant professor of history with the Japanese studies program since 2008. He has also taught in Guam, Ohio, Iowa and China. Qin’s students say he is a powerful and loving teacher who has charisma, fervor and the ability to invigorate his students.

Matthew Romaniello
Associate Professor, Department of History, College of Arts and Humanities, UH Mānoa

Matt Romaniello is currently working on a project focused on tobacco consumption in the Russian Empire, to better understand Russia’s global connections and cultural exchanges. Romaniello received his BA from Brown University and his MA and PhD from Ohio State University. His colleagues have noticed his office is always full of students seeking his advice on historical studies and research. Romaniello has extended his commitment to history educators nationally with an educational website dedicated to providing practicing teachers with the ability to make “historical thinking” visible to students through case studies.

Kathryn Sims
Associate Professor, Department of English, UH Center–West Hawaiʻi, Hawaiʻi Community College

Kathryn “Kate” Sims has taught internationally since she became a teacher 29 years ago. She has worked in Australia, the Cook Islands as well as the U.S. mainland before joining Hawaiʻi Community College, UH Center at West Hawaiʻi in 1993. Sims is currently the accreditation liaison officer at Hawaiʻi CC. She was raised in Oakland, California and received her BA in English with a French minor from the University of California, Davis. She completed her MA in English and education at the University of California, Berkeley.

Francis T. Takahashi
Assistant Professor, Electronics Technology Program, Trade Technology Division, Kauaʻi Community College

Francis Takahashi once wrote, “We must encourage students to become lifelong learners expanding their minds and horizons on the voyage to discover new ‘worlds’ on an island they may have once perceived as very small.” Takahashi received a BA and MS in zoology at the University of Hawaiʻi before completing his PhD in physiology at Oregon State University. He is also trained in business administration, electronics and data processing, which led to stints at IBM, Domain and Maxtor. This broad background enabled Takahashi to start an electronics technology program at Kauaʻi CC in 1985.

John Zuern
Associate Professor, Department of English, College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature, UH Mānoa

Colleagues and students describe John Zuern as approachable, creative, intelligent and diligent. Zuern is an associate professor of literature, literacy theory and electronic media. He has been involved in various community-school-based technology initiatives in Hawaiʻi, including an effort to integrate digital video and multimedia development into the middle-school Hawaiian language immersion curriculum. Zuern earned his MA and PhD in comparative literature from the University of Texas-Austin. He received the Presidential/Chancellor’s Citation for Meritorious Teaching in 2005.

This Post Has One Comment
  1. Big Brother, Floyd McCoy, I am so proud of you and all you are doing. How come you didn’t give your ‘beloved’ high school? We are Hilo High School grads! Of course, they didn’t think you could even make college then, but look at you now!

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