College of Education alumni, PhD student earn national teaching awards

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Jennifer L. Parks, (808) 956-0416
Communications Coordinator, College of Education
Posted: Jul 1, 2012

Julia Segawa and Charles Souza Jr. of Hawaii, along with Beatriz Camacho of Guam, are recipients of the 2011 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). The White House announced their names among 97 winners across the nation last month.
Established by Congress in 1983, PAEMST is the highest recognition that a K-12 mathematics or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching.
Segawa, who earned her BEd in elementary education from the College of Education (COE) at UH Manoa, has been an educator for 16 years and a science teacher at Stevenson Middle School for the past nine years. She founded the school’s robotics team, was instrumental in securing their Science Signature School status, and helped with the design and construction of a new science and technology building. Segawa was a finalist for the 2011 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year award in her complex area; has won several Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) awards; and is active in STEM grant and legislative initiatives.

“The COE helped prepare me for a career in education by providing rigorous and relevant course work in my specialty area,” said Segawa. “The active teaching through observation, participation and student teaching provided realistic experiences of what it would be like as a classroom teacher.”

Souza, who earned a professional diploma in secondary education from the COE, taught mathematics at Stevenson Middle School for 15 years.  Currently, he is a STEM mentor resource teacher for the State of Hawaii. While at Stevenson, he served as chair of the mathematics department, grade-level chair, mathematics team coach and middle school coordinator. A prolific presenter at educational conferences, he has examined student-centered classrooms, integrating technology into the classroom and transforming the classroom into a real player game.

Reflecting on his own education, Souza said, “The professors in the COE were very knowledgeable and prepared me well for my career as a teacher. I entered the field with the appropriate tools and resources to run a successful classroom.” Souza added that he enjoys giving back by mentoring new teachers entering the system.

Camacho, a doctoral student in curriculum studies at the COE, has served the Guam Department of Education for 18 years. She has been a middle and high school mathematics teacher, a program consultant, and a presenter at local conferences. For the past year, she has been working at Southern High School. Through her work with the COE and Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL), she recently had the opportunity to present at an American Education Research Association (AERA) conference and has offered workshops to beginning teachers at the annual meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Camacho has worked with her COE advisor, MEdT Chair Joe Zilliox, on several projects. Said Zilliox, “Beatriz maintains close ties to her Chamorro culture, and her graduate work builds on those ties. She is an effective teacher in the classroom and a strong teacher advocate outside the classroom.”

PAEMST winners received a certificate signed by the President, a paid trip for two to Washington, D.C., $10,000 from the National Science Foundation, and an opportunity to join a growing network of award-winning colleagues who are vital to the improvement of STEM education in the U.S.

Segawa, Souza and Camacho were recognized in Washington, D.C. during a three-day event in June 2012.

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