As the Title I coordinator for Ala Wai Elementary School in Honolulu, Hawaii, Sara King develops schoolwide support systems that allow all students to thrive and reach their full potential. She works with her colleagues to lessen the achievement gap, increase attendance, develop self-confident students, and raise the bar for student achievement across all subgroups. With tiered support systems and enrichment programs, and working within the expectations of state and federal compliance and fiscal responsibilities, King provides Ala Wai’s students the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in an increasingly global society. She loops parents in during monthly coffee hours, where she shares testing, learning and homework strategies families can use at home to aid their students’ progress. Everything King does supports the school’s vision: Believe, Achieve, Succeed, Dream Big, and Make It Happen.
Before taking over the Title I coordinator role in August 2017, King taught first grade and served as grade level leader. She embraced project-based learning, believing that all students can be leaders and facilitate their own learning. When students wondered why heavy rains had flooded an area on the school grounds, King encouraged them to ask questions. They came up with 102, including: Why doesn’t the water move? Why did it rain so hard? Will the water cover the whole school next time? King led her young pupils through a critical thinking process that landed on one question the class would work to solve: How do we keep our homes safe from severe weather conditions? The students researched online and listened to guest speakers to develop their proposals, with English language learners paired with native speakers to help the ELLs gain English proficiency. For other projects, King incorporated the Engineering Design Process, guiding students to come up with methods to stop cars from speeding near the school and to create a unique drip irrigation system for their class garden. Always eager to incorporate technology, King helped students create a digital storyboard to memorialize the adventures of their school garden in a blog. She pioneered student-led conferences, where students walk parents through a binder holding their work and progress charts; the entire school now uses these tools.
King led the science committee in aligning curriculum with the Next Generation Science Standards and coordinates professional development on literacy. She coaches basketball and softball, organizes school beautification projects, and plans the school’s learning showcase, Leader In Me Parent Night, Title I workshops, and May Day. King is a role model and advocate for the fourth- and fifth-graders in the Student Lighthouse Committee, which provides students with leadership opportunities on campus. She mentors novice teachers to ensure a smooth transition into a new school. She enjoys working with beginning teachers because she finds that she learns just as much from them as they do from her.
King earned a bachelor’s in elementary education in 2008 and a master’s in curriculum studies in 2012 from the University of Hawaii, Manoa.
Press release: Helping Students Believe and Achieve Earns Sara King a $25,000 Milken Educator Award
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