Top Teachers

Saturday, June 13, 1998

Name: Paul Agena
Age: 29
Position: Third-grade teacher, Ewa Elementary School
Education: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Pastimes: Fishing, mechanics, diving, hunting

He knows how to hook them

As a youngster, Paul Agena used to catch crayfish in Ewa streams and irrigation ditches.

Thinking his students would be just as excited about the freshwater crustacean, Agena launched a new curriculum on crayfish aquaculture.

"I thought this would be a good way to capture their interest and motivate their learning," said Agena, third-grade teacher at Ewa Elementary School.

Sixth-graders last month started building stands for fish tanks to hold crayfish. And next school year, third-graders will go on a field trip to the Honouliuli Wastewater Treatment Plant and learn how to design a filtration system for the tanks.

"The main thing is that they get interested in learning," said Agena, chairman of the school's science committee.

Agena recently won the 1998 Toyota Tapestry Grant for his project proposal. He flew to Las Vegas in April to accept the $7,800 grant, administered by the National Science Teachers Association.

Outside school, Agena is a black-belt judo instructor for the Waipahu Hongwanji Judo Club and a member of the Ewa Task Force, a community group focused on providing positive opportunities for youth in Ewa.

"He's an outstanding teacher who motivates children through meaningful activities," Principal Irene Nakamoto said. "He's just an exceptional person who goes beyond the call of duty."

Shirley Iida, Star-Bulletin

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