female sitting in front of a shelf.

Sara Tellio

Many people remember a teacher who cultivated their personal or professional growth. Teachers have the power to be the hero a student needs, the catalyst for a life-changing moment.

The Hawaiʻi State Department of Education’s 2017 statistics showed mounting teacher vacancies. That same year, the University of Hawaiʻi System launched the “Be a Hero. Be a Teacher.” campaign, encouraging everyone to consider the importance and benefits of the teaching profession.

The UH Mānoa College of Education (COE) took that campaign one step further. In one recruitment effort, COE master’s candidates honor the teachers who inspired them to join the ranks as heroes themselves. Jeanine Higa, a COE media specialist, has been producing videos of master of education in teaching candidates talking about their “teacher heroes.”

“It’s been really inspiring to hear about the teachers that led the candidates to teach and I hope by sharing these stories, they can inspire others as well,” said Higa.

Sara Tellio

Tellio was a shy fifth grader, who moved from Japan two years earlier, when she found her passion for dancing in Miss Ryan’s class.

“She made the classroom fun and she made me try things that I would never have tried,” said Tellio, who went on to participate in dance in high school and college.

Brittney Hedlund

Third-generation teacher Hedlund said she’s proud to follow in the footsteps of her parents, both of whom were teachers, as well as her grandfather. “I always admired what they did in the classroom and how they interacted with their students, former and current…that was always admirable to me.”

“It is great to see how the “Be a Hero. Be a Teacher.” campaign has caught on and has influenced other programs to highlight teacher heroes everywhere,” said COE Dean Nathan Murata.

The videos and posters are meant to drive future teachers to the Be a Hero. Be a Teacher. website showcasing pathways and programs available at UH to gain teaching credentials.

Four UH campuses offer teacher credentialing programs:

More about “Be a Hero. Be a Teacher.”

30 second public service announcement

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