February 28, 2022

Sen. Hirono Invites Hawaii State Teacher of the Year as Virtual Guest for President Biden’s State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) has invited Whitney Aragaki, a biology and environmental science teacher at Waiakea High School in Hilo, to be her virtual guest for President Biden’s State of the Union Address. This past December, Aragaki was recognized as the 2022 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year by the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE). She is currently one of four finalists being considered for the 2022 National Teacher of the Year.

“I’m so happy to have Whitney as my virtual guest to the President’s State of the Union—and I’d like to congratulate her for being recognized as the 2022 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year,” said Senator Hirono. “It is an incredible achievement and I want to express my gratitude for all of her substantial contributions—both in and outside of the classroom—to her school, students, and community.

“As someone who attended Hawaii public schools, I understand how important it is to have educators who are not only competent, but caring, and dedicated to fostering a supportive learning environment and encouraging students’ creativity and growth.  

“I’d also like to take a moment to applaud all of the teachers and educators in Hawaii and across the country for their tireless efforts to keep our students learning during this pandemic. While we are still learning and refining our strategies to meet our educational challenges, I am grateful to each of you for all that you have done to support our students and enable their learning during these unprecedented times.”

Aragaki currently teaches biology and environmental science at Waiakea High School in Hilo, Hawaii. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Swarthmore College and a Master of Science in tropical conservation biology and environmental science from the University of Hawaii at Hilo. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy, with a focus in curriculum and instruction, from the University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Education.

In addition to teaching in the classroom, Aragaki has taught for the statewide Hawaii Virtual Learning Network’s E-School since 2013. She is the lead teacher of the Waiakea High Public Services Academy and also created the peer-to-peer “Warrior Professional Learning Community” at Waiakea High. She aims to provide equitable access to environmental science and computer science courses across the state. To read more about Whitney Aragaki, her bio is available here.

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