Top Teachers

Saturday, January 2, 1999

Name: Clinton Hirai
Age: 43
Position: Sixth-grade teacher, Nanaikapono Elementary
Education: University of Hawaii
Pastimes: Surfing the Internet, family

Overseeing a world trip

Clinton Hirai's students went international for Christmas this year. Each received postcards from Africa, and each visited the Sears Tower, Egyptian pyramids and the Sphinx.

"They don't get out that often, so I try to expose them to the world," said Hirai. He explained the postcards were pretend, and the famous landmarks were made of gingerbread -- all part of the school's initiative to acquaint students with the world around them.

Hirai uses the Internet to aid students in learning more about the world. Assigned a different country every two months, students do research and complete projects. Already they've completed Asia and Australia and soon will move on to the Americas.

Hirai said his students are doing well, but their success is linked to their learning environment. It took two years to develop the school's new curriculum, which focuses on global, environmental and personal awareness.

By the year 2002, Nanaikapono will move across the street to a larger campus, with new buildings and a stronger focus on technology. Hirai already has signed on to become part of the planning committee.

Although excited about the learning possibilities for students, Hirai said his heart is more in his relationship with them.

"I can say honestly I just enjoy the students," he said. "I told my principal, I'm a lifer."

Kimberly K. Fu, Star-Bulletin

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