2019 Hawai'i ACTE Award Winner - Teacher of the Year
This award recognizes the finest career and technical teachers at the middle/secondary school level who have demonstrated innovation in the classroom, commitment to their students and dedication to the improvement of CTE in their institutions and communities.
Pearl City High School
Marla has been a proponent of providing a high-quality CTE program for all her students since she left the business world to become a teacher. Adding the new role of CTE coordinator, Marla has been integral to Pearl City High School’s transformation towards becoming a Hawaii Academy school based on the Hawaii CTE Career Pathways.
Marla is a natural leader and continues to look for new opportunities to grow and learn, not only for herself but for the teachers, counselors and administration she works with. In order to support her staff, she has supported teachers in helping them stay up to date on current industry topics through sharing a wide variety of professional development opportunities. Many of these opportunities have brought a renewed energy and excitement for her teachers as they are tightening up course offerings or creating new offerings in the transition to becoming a wall to wall academy school. She has always been an innovator and recently has been busy helping others reach their goals as well. On one occassion, she once had to write lesson plans for the substitute of a new teacher, that decided to quit after the first week of school, until another teacher could be hired. This required her to research the subject matter as it was not in her field of study.
Another initiative that Marla undertook was to have the CTE department really understand how to use Perkins funding for innovation and expansion. In order to do this, she first attended as many professional development opportunities regarding the topic to learn it herself, she then arranged several meetings with the District Resource Teacher and the State CTE office to come to the school to in-service the teachers since she was still new. She continues to ask questions and get verification but her school’s request for funding has been elevated and more directly related to Perkins in the first round instead of many revisions. Implementation of providing teachers with a clear purpose for Perkins has helped many of her teachers provide more innovation in their classroom too.
Her leadership has also shown in the increased number of teachers and students attending the annual CTSO events locally. She has worked to get FFA and SKILLS clubs back into her school, in addition to strong HOSA, FCCLA and DECA clubs that already existed. These student service clubs provide students with opportunities to meet industry partners, participate in real world scenarios and build workplace readiness skills.
As a testament to her dedication, Marla's single handily helped to reconnect Pearl City High School with Outrigger Hotels and Resorts after her time spent in a teacher externship over the summer and with the Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort while on her personal vacation in Thailand.
“Between 2004 and 2017 our involvement with PCHS was very minimal, but through Marla's efforts, our Director of Organizational Development, Pila Hanson, joined PCHS's CTE Advisory Board to help build curriculum and advise the career and technical academies on strategies and goals. This also led Outrigger to work closely with the PCHS Culinary Academy to provide hospitality training, help build and test recipes for their annual Taste of PCHS, and host classroom and teacher visits to our properties to learn more about our industry. Our partnership with PCHS would not be where it is today without Marla's efforts.” ~Ruthann Yamanaka (Chief People Officer and Senior Vice President)