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2021 Hawai'i ACTE Award Winner - Postsecondary Teacher of the Year

Postsecondary Teacher of the Year

This award recognizes the finest career and technical teachers at the postsecondary level who have demonstrated innovation in the classroom, commitment to their students and dedication to the improvement of CTE in their institutions and communities.

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Milton Ayakawa

Instructor, Automotive Technology, Leeward Community College

Milton Ayakawa’s journey to become a full-time automotive technology instructor began as a student at Leeward Community College (LeeCC) in August 1978 where he majored in automotive technology. After achieving a Certificate of Completion in December 1980, he entered the world of work as an Intermediate Technician in January 1981 with Servco Pacific at Kailua Toyota and eventually worked his way up to Journeyman Technician at Windward Toyota.

After 23 years of industry experience, Mr. Ayakawa was hired as an instructor at LeeCC in summer 2004 as an automotive laboratory manager position where he performed a multitude of duties and responsibilities. Mr. Ayakawa also received his Associate in Applied Science Degree in Automotive Technology at LeeCC at this time. Mr. Ayakawa was also used as a lecturer due to the high demand of students on the waiting list that wanted to get into the automotive program. After serving in the capacity as a laboratory manager and a part-time lecturer for eleven years, a full-time instructor position became available in January 2016. Due to his outstanding service as a laboratory manager and as a lecturer, Mr. Ayakawa was hired in a tenure track position. 

Mr. Ayakawa encourages the building of valuable industry partnerships so that the automotive students can learn the latest knowledge and skills from the local and national dealerships such as with the Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Chrysler, Fiat, Chevrolet, Servco Pacific, and the Toyota Motor Company. He also encourages the involvement of students to be engaged in community service projects in his classes and also through the program’s student club called “Mana Automotive Club”. He values the importance of giving back to the industry from the student’s participation in coordinating the bringing together of the industry and community in car exhibits, showcases, and through non-credit automotive basic skills workshops for the novice learners.


Recommendation by Cory Gordon (former student)

I first met Mr. Ayakawa in the spring of 2016 as an automotive tech student at Leeward Community College. His motivation and selfless service as well as his dedication to the success of future technicians inspired me to complete and graduate with my Associate in Applied Science degree. I then went on to become an automotive teacher at James Campbell High School. His leadership, experience and wealth of knowledge not only helped me to be successful when I was a student but helped me to be successful as a lecturer as well. He has been a great mentor to me during my initial years as a lecturer as well as a great supporter in helping to develop the Campbell High School Automotive program.

Recommendation by Don Maruyama (Division Chair, Professional Arts & Technology)

Milton's work with the program has been exemplary....In his short tenure as coordinator for the Automotive Program, Milton has proven himself to be a great leader who has contributed his time and energy to improving the program and the academic experiences for students. He is creative, resourceful, and possesses a tremendous work ethic.

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