I am greatly humbled and honored to receive the Presidential Award and join past recipients whom I have admired and respected. My journey was possible with the support of family, students, mentors, colleagues, and administrators. I learned the best teachers find ways to motivate and inspire children and other educators. Knowing that an award of this caliber can be life changing, I look forward to exploring the opportunities the future has in store.

Akeyo Garcia Ewa Beach, HI | K-6, Mathematics, 2016

The official biography below was current at the time of the award.

Akeyo Garcia has been an early childhood educator for more than 20 years, teaching children ranging from newborns to six-year-olds in both California and Hawaii. She taught kindergarten at Ewa Elementary School for eight years, and recently served as a prekindergarten Program Director and teacher at Kamalani Academy Charter School. Next year, Akeyo will be returning to Ewa Elementary School to launch a prekindergarten program. Akeyo increases student understanding using a play-based discovery approach, and shares her enthusiasm for mathematics by engaging students in hands-on activities, collaborative discussions, and projects. Akeyo’s awards include the Educator of Excellence in Our Community Award, the Kōkua Hawaii Foundation Earth Action Projects Award, and over $50,000 in grants. The most prominent of these awards is the National Education Association’s Learning and Leadership grant, which allowed her to purchase STEM materials for seven classrooms. Akeyo earned a B.Ed., with distinction, in elementary education and a M.Ed. in curriculum studies with a concentration in prekindergarten to third grade from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She recently completed a master’s degree in early childhood education. She is certified to teach prekindergarten through sixth grade and is currently working to obtain a National Board Certification for Early Childhood Generalist.