University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education alumna Laura Ahn was named the 2022 Hawaiʻi State Principal of the Year by the Hawaiʻi Association of Secondary School Administrators (HASSA).
Ahn, who is principal of Niu Valley Middle School, earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, post-baccalaureate in elementary education and master’s degree in educational administration (EDEA) from UH Mānoa.
“I think it takes a special person to relate to kids in middle school, and Laura was born for it,” said Stacey Roberts, retired UH Mānoa EDEA professor and associate director of educational leadership programs in the Chaminade School of Education and Behavioral Science. “As a master’s student, she was full of energy and enthusiasm and brought that to every class. Not only did she have a terrific sense of humor and great stories, but she was also an empathic and dedicated educator who really cared about her students and colleagues.”
Before becoming principal of Niu Valley Middle School, Ahn served as the principal of Kalihi Uka Elementary where the campus won a Blue Ribbon Award in 2018. She was also the vice principal of Kalani High School, vice principal of Kaʻahumanu Elementary, and a teacher at Kauluwela Elementary.
“Since childhood, I always admired my teachers and wanted to become one of them,” Ahn stated. “During my master’s program in educational administration, my advisor Dr. Stacy Roberts and professors were instrumental in encouraging and mentoring me in the right direction.”
Ahn joined Niu Valley Middle School’s administration during a challenging period when they had lost more than half of their veteran teachers. Despite the impact on student performance, Ahn worked to stabilize staff turnover and student achievement, leading to a 100% graduation rate and 95% attendance rate. The number of licensed teachers also increased by nearly 10 points, reaching 100% for two consecutive years.
“Success happens when you have the right people sitting in the right places,”Ahn added. “My coordinators, VPs, teachers, and staff are my front line, and they deserve this win!”
More on HASSA
Created in 1980, HASSA is the local affiliate of the National Association of Secondary School Principals and annually honors a middle or high school principal who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and a strong commitment to their school’s students, staff and community.