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Home Class Act Waiʻanae grad-turned-teacher said UH West Oʻahu was ‘perfect school’ for him

Waiʻanae grad-turned-teacher said UH West Oʻahu was ‘perfect school’ for him


UH West Oʻahu graduate and Waiʻanae High School teacher Tyson Arasato with his family — wife Rachel and sons (from left) King, Jonah, Luke, and Milo. Image courtesy of Tyson Arasato

Wai‘anae resident Tyson Arasato, 34, clearly remembers when he realized he wanted to become a teacher.

While cleaning a classroom as a substitute custodian at Leihōkū Elementary School in Wai‘anae, Arasato, who was just 22 years old at the time, helped a group of teachers who were trying to play a song on the ‘ukulele for a May Day performance.

“I was asked to help the ‘Ukulele Club and that’s when I had my first experience working with students,” Arasato recalled. “I fell in love with it and eventually the former principal of that school, Randall Miura, convinced me to enroll in classes to get my degree.”

In 2020, Arasato received a Bachelor of Education, with a focus in Biology, from the University of Hawai‘i–West O‘ahu. He started teaching at Wai‘anae High School, where he graduated in 2007. Today he is a biology teacher at the school.

“It was imperative that I worked at Wai‘anae High School,” said Arasato, noting that he works in the very class where he spent much of his time in as a student. “The way I teach has a lot of mana (power) behind it because students understand I sat in the same seat, I worked in the same setting, and I care about what they make of themselves because I want my community to thrive.”

Arasato said UH West O‘ahu “was the perfect school,” strongly influencing him with its community-based learning approach. Its teaching program was also the only program that allowed Arasato to have control over where he wanted to complete his student teaching hours, he said.

“I was fortunate to student teach with my former teacher and mentor (at Wai‘anae High), Dana Hoppe,” he said. “This was pivotal in my development as a teacher due to the fact that a few months after I graduated, I took over her teaching lines as she moved on to another position at our school.”

Arasato continued, “Beyond that, Kumu Cathy Ikeda (assistant professor of Middle Level and Secondary English) had a candidate program that focused on understanding how to teach local students and cared about the development of all the teacher candidates.”

Arasato added that Richard Jones, professor of Science Education, and Megan Ross, assistant professor of Biology, also played important roles in his development as an educator.

“I have very fond memories of my time as a student teaching (while) at UH West O‘ahu,” he said. “It helped me to build confidence as a teacher and also made me feel validated as every school I visited showed interest in hiring me.”

Arasato emphasized that his main goal as a teacher now is to equip his students with the knowledge that will ensure that this “place,” where we live, is in a better condition in the future than it is now.

“Although standards and learning objectives are important, to me having them be good stewards of the earth and mankind is even more important,” he said.