LAHAINA - Principals Marsha Nakamura of Lahaina Intermediate School and Fern Markgraf of Kahului Elementary School are finalists in the 2012 Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Awards.
One Hawaii public school principal will receive $25,000 - a $10,000 personal cash award and $15,000 toward a school project of his or her choice.
The recipient of this year's award will be announced at the Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation Dinner on April 13 in Honolulu.
Nakamura has been an educator at Lahaina Intermediate for 26 years, the last ten as principal. She began as an art teacher, then served as vice principal.
As headmaster, Nakamura faced two challenges: school accreditation and a divided teaching staff.
Her collaborative leadership style has resulted in increased HSA scores and a high percentage of tutored students meeting proficiency in reading and math.
In addition, the school received a six-year accreditation term in 2011.
"We have worked tirelessly for the last six years to place our focus on improving student achievement. Everything we do is with that in mind," said Anthony Griffith, eighth grade science teacher at Lahaina Intermediate.
"All of this was possible because of her dedication to improving our school. She has been there every step of the way providing direction and guidance, while allowing us to take ownership of and responsibility for the school's development."
Markgraf has been principal at Kahului Elementary for eight years. The school faces many challenges, including poverty and nearly 30 percent of students being English Language Learners (ELL).
As a result, Markgraf helped implement LUMI KELA, Kahului English Learners Achieving. At the center, ELL students receive tutoring before and after school.
Markgraf reported that 52 percent of ELL students are now meeting proficiency standards in reading and math, compared to 25 percent in 2003.
"Principal Markgraf is an extremely dedicated professional educator. She leads by example and is not afraid to defend her position," said Leslie T. Takahashi, student services coordinator at Kahului Elementary.
"I can honestly say that I enjoy my job because I know she will always be there to help and listen."
The award, which is named after Island Insurance founder Masayuki Tokioka, is underwritten by the Island Insurance Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Island Insurance Companies.
Eleven public school principals from across the state are finalists for the award, which recognizes outstanding school principals and their efforts to provide high-quality learning opportunities for their students.