The Concord Consortium’s Teacher Ambassador program commemorates our 25th anniversary by recognizing 25 outstanding teachers who have included our digital inquiry resources into their STEM classrooms. We congratulate them on their innovation and creativity.
Toni Kaui, Nā Hunaahi, Hilo, HI
Before turning to teaching 9-11th grade, Toni Kaui spent ten years as an architect designing houses for wealthy homeowners. It did not inspire her. “I switched careers because I was tired of all the wasted resources,” she explains. Teaching had “more rewarding outcomes.” For her and for her students.
In 2018 and 2019 Toni took her students to two forums—the ITEEA (International Technology and Engineering Educators Association) national conference in Kansas City and the PATT (Pupils’ Attitudes Towards Technology) international conference in Ireland. The students did not simply attend, they presented their own research on the development of creativity and imagination in Native Hawaiian adolescents. At PATT, her students distinguished themselves as the youngest presenters. “I wanted to show students how academics and research can open a lot of doors,” Toni explains.
She discovered Geniverse searching for an interactive genetics activity for her biology class. Then, during the summer of 2018, she attended a PaperMechatronics workshop. “As a designer and a builder, I am naturally attracted to PaperMech,” she says. “I appreciate how the program allows me to introduce design and build concepts into my curriculum. It adapts and integrates into multiple content disciplines.” She used PaperMech not only to create conceptual models of plant and animal extinction in her biology class, but also in English classes to illustrate “how our yearlong themes can be seen throughout different aspects of their lives.”
“Technology is the future, so it should be more deeply integrated into the classrooms,” Toni says. “I focus on the journey more than the destination, and [Concord Consortium materials] opened up ways for me to help students better express their processes.”
Toni’s own journey includes practicing hula kahiko, a traditional Hawaiian dance typical of pre-contact that does not include modern musical instruments. “Dancing hula is not unusual in Hawai’i,” she explains. Though she enjoys the physical workout hula provides, she appreciates how the practice of hula perpetuates her culture.
While Toni aspires to swim between the continental plates in Iceland, imagine gladiator fights while standing in Rome’s colosseum, walk the exhibit halls of Spain’s Guggenheim Museum, and much, MUCH more, she considers her most inspiring experience to date to be the trip to Ireland with her students—not just an adventure, but a catalyst to their greater aspirations.
Favorite ice cream: Mint chocolate chip