Byrnes, Yong and Hanneman honored for exemplary work in classroom

Portrait photo of Dr. Jennifer Byrnes. She is wearing a white blouse and smiling. The backdrop is the UH West Oahu library building.

Dr. Jennifer Byrnes

UH West Oʻahu educators Dr. Jennifer Byrnes, Dr. Kamuela Yong and Steven Hanneman have been selected for awards given to honor their outstanding work in the classroom.

Byrnes, an assistant professor of Anthropology, is the recipient of the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching, while Yong, an assistant professor of Mathematics, was selected for the Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.  

Hanneman, a lecturer of Information Technology, was recognized with the inaugural UH West Oʻahu Lecturer Excellence in Teaching Award.

Byrnes joined UH West Oʻahu in the Fall of 2014. Her teaching philosophy is uncomplicated – it’s like learning to fish. She states, “like fishing, learning takes patience and work, but it can also be fun and it should be fulfilling.”

Portrait photo of Dr. Kamuela Yong. He is wearing a blue on blue aloha shirt. The background is the library building

Dr. Kamuela Yong

According to Byrnes “students demonstrate meaningful learning when they use critical thinking about new information to solve problems or to reach an answer independently.” She sees her role as “part coach and part facilitator.” One student commented, “the thing that impressed me the most about Dr. Byrnes is that she is willing to spend her time out of the classroom to assist and guide you in your own career, regardless if you are her student or not.” Another student reported, “I enjoy her lectures because it feels like a two way discussion and she’s always communicating with the class instead of at the class.”

Outside the classroom, Dr. Byrnes serves as a member of the Institute of Engaged Scholarship committee at UHWO.    

The Regents Medal for Excellence is based on student, faculty, and staff input. Each year the UH Board of Regents recognizes faculty members who exhibit an extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity and personal values that benefit students.The recipients receive a cash award and, in the Fall of 2018, the recipient will receive an engraved Board of Regents medal.

UH West Oʻahu winners – Board of Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching
2019 Jennifer Byrnes
2018 Jon Magnussen 2011 Garyn Tsuru 1987 Ross Prizzia  
2016 Michael Furuto 2010 Frank Kudo 1983 Ekkehard Stiller
2015 Katie Landgraf 2003 David Alethea 1982 Roland Stiller
2014 Richard Jones 1999 Gary Helfand 1981 Linda Nishigaya
2012 Linda Furuto 1995 Louis Herman 1980 Barbara Newton

Yong, a member of UH West Oʻahu’s faculty since the Fall 2015 semester, is continually adjusting his teaching style based on what he learns from his students.  His main goal is to prevent students from fearing math. Yong proclaims that “teaching is a learning experience” and readily admits that he is constantly learning as well.

Since the Fall 2018, he has provided tutoring during his lunch break to current and former students, as well as students in other Mathematics classes. Additionally, Yong has created 232 online videos constituting over 49 hours of instructional content.

When a student was asked what grade she would give him, she replied, “An A+. Dr. Yong really took the time to explain to us the material that we needed to know for this course and was really patient with us.”

The Frances Davis Award recognizes dedication and demonstrated excellence as teachers of undergraduate students. The late Frances Davis taught mathematics at Leeward Community College and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa for 19 years.

UH West Oʻahu winners – Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
2019 Kamuela Yong
2017 Monica LaBriola 2009 Stefanie Wilson
2011 Linda Furuto 2004 Michael Hallstone

The Lecturer Excellence in Teaching Award was given for the first time to acknowledge the contributions made by lecturers in UH West Oʻahu classrooms.  Hanneman began teaching at UH West Oʻahu in 2018 after serving as an adjunct instructor at another university. Hanneman has a varied background, including serving in the U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard, owning a small business, and working as a facilities engineering and construction senior manager.

Image courtesy of UHWO Staff