Crystal Ozaki, a teacher at Kaua‘i High School for the past seven years, was named one of the two winners.
The immersive award, a partnership between ClimbHi and the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association, provides an array of learning opportunities within the hospitality industry. Each teacher also earned a $1,000 stipend to fund experiences that will provide an enhanced understanding of the industry.
“Hawaii’s educators are such an important part of each student’s understanding of the hospitality industry,” said Julie Morikawa, President of ClimbHI. “We are pleased to offer this annual award, which opens up engaging learning opportunities, industry connections and support for new experiences.”
Born and raised on Kaua‘i, Ozaki has more than two decades of experience in the hospitality industry. She teaches travel industry management and hospitality tourism to help prepare students in the Career and Technical Education program, or CTE.
Ozaki volunteers her time helping with soccer, participating in the district’s mentoring program, and advising the Hospitality Hui Hookipa Club. She also co-advises the Travel Club and graduation and is part of the STEM Cadre at Kaua‘i High School.
“My goal is to continue to educate and expose students to the hospitality industry, as well as building partnerships within the hospitality community and engaging the travel advisory board with co-curricular activities,” she said. “I have a passion to mentor and guide my students with real-world experiences that will help them realize the many opportunities that are available to them.”
Each teacher will receive overview briefings from tourism management and marketing leaders; job shadowing and on-site learning at a hotel or resort in Hawaii; and other immersive experiences that showcase various aspects of the industry. The teachers will also be paired with mentors from HLTA’s Women in Lodging & Tourism committee.
Joyce Miyamoto, a CTE teacher at H.P. Baldwin High School on Maui, was the other winner.
Ozaki and Miyamoto were recognized during a ceremony with Morikawa and Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of HLTA, on June 3.
Founded in 2009, the Hawai‘i-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit ClimbHI seeks to inspire students to finish high school and proceed to post-secondary education or employment by exposing them to future career paths and the steps necessary to achieve those goals.