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Malaea Wetzel
Haleiwa Elementary School
Central Oahu School District
Haleiwa, Hawaii

When Malaea Wetzel became principal of Haleiwa Elementary School (HES), she faced one of the biggest challenges for any administrator: proving that her school should remain open. In 2009, HES was a potential victim of consolidation in danger of being closed by the Hawaii Department of Education. Nonetheless, Wetzel demonstrated that HES was worthy of funding; she was able to avoid consolidation and turn HES into an “essential hub of the community.” In 2010, students at HES achieved higher scores on the Hawaii Standards Assessment test than they ever had before. In the same year, they also achieved the highest math proficiency level in the state at an impressive 99 percent. HES's accomplishments are largely due to Wetzel's ability to rally support. With a common goal to “Save Haleiwa School,” she worked with groups such as the Parent Community Networking Center and the school's Leadership Team in order to increase student progress. Targeted interventions were provided for all students regardless of their skill levels. Wetzel also strives for minimal reliance on district resources by coaching her own teachers whenever possible. HES earned a National Blue Ribbon School award in 2014 and a Strive HI award for the top 5 percent of public schools in 2013. Wetzel holds a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Hawaii and a Master’s in Education Counseling from the University of Phoenix.