30-Year Teaching Veteran Re-Elected President of HSTA
From HSTA May 8, 2012 HONOLULU - Longtime teacher, Wil Okabe, was re-elected president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association. The HSTA Board of Directors certified the member vote tonight.
"I am humbled by the vote of confidence the teachers have given me. These are difficult times. We must remain united in the pursuit of what is best for our profession and the children we teach," Okabe said. "I want to thank those who voted for me and I want all members to know that I will work as hard as I can to do as much as I can for every member of our Association," he said. Okabe's second three-year term officially starts on July 8, 2012.
"We cannot build a strong local economy in the state unless we have high-quality education," Okabe said. "And we cannot have high-quality schools without adequate funding, small class sizes, and the involvement of parents and communities to transform schools that need help and to provide the supports and resources that students, schools, and teachers need to be successful," Okabe said.
In addition to serving as a school level leader, Okabe held numerous key leadership roles with the Hilo Chapter, served as HSTA secretary-treasurer and vice president, and he has served on National Education Association Boards. Okabe's community service includes: the East Hawaii Coalition for the Homeless, Chair of the Hawaii Police Commission, Chair of the Hawaii Fire Commission, and service on the State Aquatic and Wildlife Commission.
Okabe was born on Oahu and grew up in Waianae. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Willamette University. He earned a master's degree from Heritage College. He and his wife, Merle, a teacher and former Big Island Teacher of the Year, have two children who graduated from public schools, Jolie and Gavin.
Others elected to serve the Hawaii State Teachers Association:
Joan Kamila Lewis, a teacher at Kapolei High School Hoola Leadership Academy, vice president; Colleen Pasco, a teacher at Kohala High School, secretary-treasurer; Fran Bellinger, a teacher at King Intermediate School, to represent Hawaii teachers on the National Education Association board of directors; Jonathan Gillentine, a teacher at Parker Elementary School, to serve as alternate representative on the NEA board.
* * * * *
From HSTA May 8, 2012 Mahalo to our members for their reconsideration. Thank you to the school level leaders who met last week. Thank you to those who attended our first informational sessions yesterday and today.
Throughout the years, when it comes to contracts, negotiations, and ratification, HSTA has stressed the importance of going to the source for correct information and not relying on what is printed in the newspaper or seen on television. This reconsideration period is no exception. For example, we cannot speculate on comments in the media made by individuals, even if it may be the Governor. This is the reason why we are encouraging members to attend the information meetings set up around the state, to read the materials delivered to each teacher and on the Web site, and to call the HQ Hotline.
We understand that some members spent a lot of personal time reviewing the documents in January and made the best possible decision based on the information given at that time. However, we heard from a significant number of members during the statewide listening tour that we did not provide adequate information and that our timeline rushed the vote. That was not the teachers' fault.
This week, we are providing members with additional information and rationale from the Negotiations Team. The focus is to provide more details on issues members say are most important to them, along with some important and confidential negotiations updates that could not simply be put in a bulletin. Please review the printed information being distributed for each teacher at school. We encourage all members to attend an information session to learn why you are being asked to reconsider your vote.
For additional information:
- Please contact your faculty representative.
- General information is available online by clicking on the blue NEGOTIATIONS UPDATE banner www.hsta.org. Login to your member Web site for member-only information such as FAQs and other documents.
- The HQ Hotline was activated yesterday and will be available for member questions Monday-Friday, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Big Island: 329-5075 x 212
Maui: 270-2048 x 212
Kauai: 240-2048 x 212
Molokai: 660-2048 x 212
Lanai: 568-2048 x 212
KHON: Wil Okabe reelected as HSTA President