Log in


Hawaii Teacher of the Year Award Winners

Dara Tawarahara, 2020 HAHPERD TOY for Elementary Physical Education

Dara Tawarahara, who is affectionately known as "Ms. T" by her students, serves Helemano Elementary School as an inspiration and positive role model for physical literacy. As a Physical Education teacher and coach, she encourages all students to develop a strong foundation of movement and positive self-esteem that supports healthy and active lifestyles. Dara's student-centered approach is inclusive of all students and connects with their diverse needs and interests. She regularly motivates students through the use of guiding questions, music, technology, and opportunities for self-assessment. Dara advocates for healthy students and healthy schools, which led to increased brain breaks in class and improved recess opportunities. By improving students' access to recess activities and equipment, students are more ready to learn in class. Her efforts boosted school faculty morale and healthy living through an after school wellness club and staff wellness challenges. Dara contributes to the broader community by volunteering and participating in state and district opportunities, such as Children and Youth Day and fitness events. She also shares her engaging lessons with educators beyond her school by opening her classroom for observations. Mahalo, Dara, for your outstanding contributions to Physical Education!

Jessica Adkins, 2020 HAHPERD TOY for High School Physical Education

Jessica Adkins serves Maui High School through her leadership as a Physical Education teacher, department head, and coach. Jessica intentionally designs her lessons to help students from all backgrounds and ability levels to succeed by developing social and emotional learning, positive student interactions, and discussions where all perspectives are valued and respected. Jessica empowers students to develop their voice through her courses, which includes a Unified Leadership Physical Education class. With her guidance, the Unified Leadership students organized youth sports days for neighboring elementary students. Jessica integrates the use of technology, such as Google Classroom and heart rate monitors, to enhance her students' learning experiences in Physical Education. She contributes to her community as an active, positive role model by volunteering for youth clinics and fitness days. Jessica also actively participates in the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program as a Youth Ambassador Mentor and Head of Delegation and consults with educators within and beyond the state of Hawai'i who are interested in bringing this program to their schools. Mahalo, Jessica, for all you do to support your students' physical literacy!

Hawaii Teacher of the Year Application Information

2021 Hawai‘i State Teacher of the Year Application Directions


To be considered during the selection process, ALL required application materials must be submitted on a date TBD, to the Teacher of the Year Committee Chair at healthy.keiki@gmail.com.

Required Application Materials

  • Hawai‘i State Teacher of the Year Application Form

  • Verification of Teaching Assignment Form

  • Two letters of recommendation (as listed below)

  • Award criteria (as specified for each award category)

  • Headshot photo (JPEG at 300 dpi minimum)

Letters of Recommendation

  • Two letters of recommendation must be included with the application

    • At least one letter must be from a fellow teacher

    • At least one letter must be from a current administrator/supervisor

  • Letters should be directly related to the awards criteria listed for each award. 

  • It is recommended that the letters are written on letterhead.

Award Criteria

When completing the award criteria, please use the following format:

  • Responses to the award criteria should be in one Word document. Please do NOT submit responses to each criterion answer in separate Word documents.

  • Bold the criterion as a heading (see example below).

  • Provide your qualifications relevant to each criterion in paragraph form below the bolded criterion heading (see example below).  Write no more than one page of text for each criterion - single-spaced, 12-point font.

  • Consideration for the award is based on the responses for the criteria.

  • Example format for Award Criteria:

1. Conducts an appropriate physical education program as reflected in the students’ individualized education programs and generally accepted standards of practice for physical education

Begin to write your answer to the criterion below the bolded heading in unbolded font.

For the complete application packet, go to http://bit.ly/2021HAHPERDTOY            Revised 05/2020

Show your Support

A donation of any size supports promoting school and community programs and ensure the inclusion of programs within the best philosophical, social and educational contexts of American life.

Make a Donation


We aim to provide unity of purpose, cooperative and concerted action, intelligent direction and control, and to make the greatest contribution to the goals of physical education.

Become a Member


Contact Us

2720 Kamanaiki Street
Honolulu, HI 96819
Phone: 808.845.7434


Hawaii Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance ©2018

Designed by The ARRC, Powered by Wild Apricot