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

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.