Aaron S. Tominaga

Waipahu Elementary School
Leeward Oahu District
Waipahu, Hawaii

As principal of Waipahu Elementary School (WES) since 2018, Aaron S. Tominaga has proven himself an accountable and humble leader capable of guiding school improvement efforts amid great challenges and change. Despite having a robust system in place for guiding data-driven instruction, Waipahu Elementary was scoring lowest in the complex prior to the onset of the pandemic, which only created additional challenges for students and educators. Rather than blaming external factors for this trend of low performance, Tominaga turned inward to ask what he could do differently as an instructional leader to better serve students. Following a period of feedback and brainstorming with teachers, Tominaga set out to refine the school’s approach to intervention through differentiated professional development for teachers, deeper engagement with curriculum coaches, and a more comprehensive approach to sharing, interpreting, and acting on data. As part of this work, Tominaga led the creation of a comprehensive system for tracking ELA and math progress, which has proven essential at addressing pandemic-related learning loss. In addition to these efforts, Tominaga has introduced project-based learning at WES to create authentic, real-world opportunities for applying core academic skills and led the development of a distance learning program for 10 elementary schools during the pandemic. Tominaga is a former nominee for the Masayuki Tokioka Distinguished Principal Award. He holds a Bachelor of Education in Secondary Science and a Master of Education in Educational Administration.