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News Release

November 18, 2014

Six Hawaii Teachers to Receive Classroom Grants Totaling $5,000 From Farmers Insurance Hawaii

HONOLULU, HI — Six Hawaii teachers have been selected to receive grants totaling $5,000 to help them purchase classroom supplies, thanks to Farmers Insurance Hawaii. One teacher, Austin Zavala, who leads a broadcast journalism program at Moanalua High School, was presented with a $2,500 award during a special presentation recently held at his school. The remaining five teachers will receive awards valued at $500 each.

Zavala was selected to receive this special grant by the insurer when local employees of Farmers Insurance Hawaii noticed that he had submitted a proposal for support through the company’s nationwide educator program, Thank A Million Teachers. That program, which has urged all of America to offer a heartfelt thanks to teachers at www.thankamillionteachers.com, has also invited teachers to vie for $2,500 grants through an online voting competition.

While Zavala’s proposal received more than one thousand votes, it was not enough to earn him one of the national grants. Undeterred by the outcome, employees of the local insurer were inspired by Zavala’s proposal and efforts to get votes, so they began a fundraising effort, which combined personal contributions and corporate community service funds to present Mr. Zavala with a $2,500 grant.

“Each of these teachers is doing an outstanding job of inspiring and educating students across Hawaii and we are proud to be able to support their efforts,” said Shannon Kelly, regional vice president for Farmers Insurance. “I am also proud and inspired by our local Farmers Insurance Hawaii team who rallied together to make this happen.”

Farmers Insurance Hawaii has a long history of supporting Hawaii's educators. Farmers Hawaii has provided affordable auto insurance to Hawaii Education Association members since 1969, in addition to supporting education related community initiatives including the Hot Spots Traffic Safety, Farmers Fans for Education, and the Thank A Million Teachers programs.

"I am honored to be a part of a company that supports education through programs like Thank A Million Teachers. Through our local efforts we are able to support innovative programs in our community and provide much-needed funds to teachers like Mr. Zavala, who tirelessly work to give our keiki the best educational experiences possible," said Kim Sato, treasurer of Farmers Insurance Hawaii.

According to Moanalua High School teacher Zavala, the broadcast journalism program he runs has lofty aspirations but down-to-earth needs. The more than 75 students in his program need updated video and audio equipment to enable the young people to better tell their stories with insight and independence. He will use his grant award to purchase the necessary equipment to help his students.

The group of teachers awarded with $500 grants also have clear plans for how they will use their awards.

Selene Horita, who teaches at Fern Elementary School, wants to provide her students with some real life, out in the field learning. Since the cost of bus transportation is so high it has been a challenge to get her students away from the school campus, so she will use her award to defray the expenses of providing a field trip for her students.

Aina Haina Elementary School teacher Deanne Yoshioka is the coordinator for the International Baccalaureate program at her school and is constantly seeking learning experiences that will help her fellow teachers better understand how to implement the goals and philosophy of the International Baccalaureate program. She will use her grant to attend one of the national training sessions and share her learnings with her fellow educators.

Cassie Romero, a teacher at Lanakila Elementary School, has seen that her students sometimes struggle to become engaged in classroom learning, because they may speak softly due to a lack of confidence with the material or other distractions. She will use her award to purchase a classroom voice amplifier to help her students learn in a new way and to help them with their presentation skills.

Kanoelani Elementary School teacher Cynthia Constantino believes her students need to be flexible, creative, and focused problem-solvers to make them capable adults. With her grant, she intends to purchase photography equipment and new computer equipment so that students can use technology to build their understanding of the concepts they are learning.

Diane Tom-Ogata of Farrington High School wants to expose her students to more marine science outside of the classroom walls. She will use her grant to defray the costs of field trips to outdoor learning centers in the area.

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