When seniors at Mililani High School in Mililani, HI, entered Lisa-Anne Tsuruda's English class, they felt right at home. Tsuruda has become such an important presence in the lives of her students that they all refer to her as "Aunty Lisa." This nickname has been earned by the endless generosity and familial warmth she brings to her teaching. As chair of the Language Arts Department, Tsuruda balanced her kind demeanor with a rigorous curriculum using the Successful Practices Network Gold Seal Lesson Program. Her senior English class was chosen to pilot Hawaii's Senior Project Program for the State Board of Education. All 140 of her seniors completed their projects and received the Board of Education Diploma, the highest diploma they could receive. Their projects became models for other high schools throughout the state. Among Tsuruda's many additional projects, she established two book fairs for Mililani High, and created a prom dress fundraiser to raise money for abused women. After winning the award, she has been able to fulfill a wish she has had for a very long time: the establishment of Lisa-Anne L. Tsuruda Legacy Scholarship for Future Educators. She has been awarding a $500 scholarship to a Mililani High Senior who wants to major in Education. She will do this for the next 20 years and has a sister scholarship at her first school, Waianae High School, also for 20 Legacy scholars. It is funded by a $10,000 gift in her name by her longtime friend former Board of Education member Kim Coco Iwamoto. Lisa served on the state committee to develop expository curriculum and revise state standards, and was a member of the Central District Mentoring Program, where she worked with new teachers. She was also on the Hawaii State Task Force for Senior Project, a requirement for the Hawaii Board of Education Recognition Diploma. Tsuruda certainly finds a myriad of opportunities to be a positive force in her profession and in her community. UPDATE: Fall 2016 to Present: In order to be on the same campus as her younger son Ryan, Lisa moved to 'Iolani School in Honolulu. She began teaching 7th and 11th grade English. She found that she loved teaching Middle School students as they were excited to follow the Reading and Writing Workshop format which allowed them to do even more Free Reading and personal writing. She immediately went to work to find her niche. She serves as the Class of 2022's Class Advisor, English 7 Course Head, Coach for the Intermediate Speech Team, Mentor for the school's Iobotics Presentation Team, and is an Admissions Reader. She finds much reward as a Tutor for the school's Ka'i Program which services students from grades 6th to 12th in the surrounding Kaimuki and Palolo Housing area. This is a way that she is able to give back and still make a difference with students in the public schools. She continues to present at workshops and conferences around the state. Lisa just loves teaching and supporting her students as they attain their dreams and become role models themselves. She gets to live her passion and her dream every day in the classroom.
I am so honored and humbled to be in such esteemed company. I am interested in so many facets of the world of Education today. In 2009, we were dealing with 17 days of furloughs to avoid laying off teachers in the classroom and I received my award the day before furloughs began. It sent a powerful message that teaching and teachers DO make a difference and that we serve an important role in society. My dream for my Central District and especially the Mililani Complex is to get the ball rolling on constructing a performing arts center. The drama department puts on phenomenal plays and full-scale musicals in the tiny cafeteria, the school orchestra has to rent out another district's auditorium to put on performances, and our dance team practices and performs on dirt. I'm interested in hearing how other educators and administrators find the funding and the legislative support needed to do such large scale projects. I'm very open and love sharing ideas and best practices! I look forward to meeting all of you!
1990 University of Hawaii - Manoa, B.A.
1993 University of Hawaii-Manoa Professional Diploma in Secondary Education
2010 Sacred Hearts Academy Distingushed Alumna
2010 Presented at Hawaii State Senior Project Conference: "MHS: Makin' It Happen"
2010 Hawaii Beta Beta State: Delta Kappa Gamma Fall Conference Keynote Speaker "Enhancing Our Vision, Designing Our Future"