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Ritela Sproule, 2023 Hawaiʻi Miliken Teacher of Promise

Red Hill Elementary special education teacher Ritela Sproule, a Leeward Community College alumna, has been recognized as the 2022 Teacher of Promise by the Milken Educators of Hawaiʻi. The annual award recognizes outstanding teachers within the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education and comes with a $2,000 cash prize.

Ritela Sproule

Sproule, a 2020 graduate of Leeward CC, was presented with her award and check in March. She is known among her peers as a hard worker and innovator who is motivated by her dedication to her students.

“When I see my kids with different needs, I know I’m here for a reason. To see any progress in my kids makes a difference in my life,” Sproule said. “I always say, ‘You don’t learn by the way I’m teaching, I’m teaching by the way you learn.’”

As an English language learner, Sproule had to overcome her own set of challenges that included working full-time in the classroom while earning her advanced professional certificate in special education (SPED) at Leeward CC.

“We knew she was a total rockstar. She did all the hard work—we just provided a flexible and accommodating pathway to her final destination,” said Leeward CC SPED Coordinator Christina Keaulana. “We are honored to have been part of her journey.”

Thanks to the support she received while at Leeward CC, she was able to validate her classroom practice.

“Leeward’s program served its exact purpose of building highly qualified special education teachers to enter the field,” Komarey Moss, Red Hill Elementary principal, said. “[Sproule’s] practices are influential in getting students to make progress with their goals.”

Since it began in spring 2018, Leeward’s SPED program has licensed 139 special education teachers, with 83% currently working in Hawaiʻi’s public schools. Learn more about the teacher education program at the Leeward CC website.

The Milken Educators of Hawaiʻi organization is made up of past winners of the prestigious Milken Educator Award in the state.

—By Tad Saiki

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