Lisa Ann L. Higa

Nanakuli Elementary School
Leeward District, Oahu
Waianae, Hawaii

Lisa Ann Higa has served Nanakuli Elementary School as principal for eight years, having previously served the district in a variety of instructional leadership and administrative capacities. With almost 86 percent of Nanakuli students identifying as Native Hawaiian, Higa has made it a top priority to build strong parent and community relationships by partnering with families to promote Hawaiian culture and inviting them to participate in the school improvement process. Higa has also championed whole-child initiatives to help educators better understand and address student needs in order to eliminate academic disparities. These efforts are carried out through a collaborative leadership framework and layered, evidence-based practices that are grounded in the shared values of aloha, resilience, culture, and compassion. Under Higa’s leadership, Nanakuli piloted the first pre-K program in the complex, with the goal of establishing foundations for academic numeracy and literacy; Smarter Balance Assessments later affirmed this vision, showing that participants scored much higher as third graders than their peers who had not participated in the program. Higa also led the school through a six-year accreditation process and helped launch the Nanakuli Educational Assistant Pilot Program, an accelerated education program for aspiring educators. She holds a M.Ed. in Administration from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, an Associate’s degree in Sales and Marketing from Leeward Community College, a Professional Diploma in Education from Chaminade University, and a B.A. in General Studies from Eastern Oregon State College.