Hawaii Society for Technology in Education


HSTE is an innovative non-profit organization dedicated to exploring the exciting world of educational technology. At HSTE, we firmly believe that technology has the power to transform education and open up endless possibilities for learners of all backgrounds. We pride ourselves on providing opportunities to engage in a wide range of edtech experiences from conference to challenges. Our goal is always to explore cutting-edge tools, collaborate with like-minded individuals, and actively contribute to shaping the future of learning.


The spirit of the Making IT Happen award supports our vision of a world in which all learners thrive, achieve and contribute. The Hawai’i Society of Technology in Education, an affiliate of ISTE, will award two winners this year. The winners will be honored at the SOTF Conference.

Learn more about the Making IT Happen Award or send an email to info@hste.org 

The 2023 ISTE Making IT Happen Award Winners

The 2023 ISTE Making IT Happen Award Nominees

Previous Making IT Happen Award Winners

The 2022 ISTE Making IT Happen Award Winners

Edwin Mendija

Kualapuʻu Public Conversion & Molokai High School

My name is Edwin Mendija and I am the IT Technology Support Technician at Kualapuu School and the after-school robotics teacher at Molokai High School. I have made it my life goal to create opportunities for all Molokai students to pursue STEM through educational/competition robotics. I also ran the robotics program at Kualapuu School, and currently mentor at Maunaloa, Aka'ula, and Kaunakakai Schools. On top of this, I also run the "Molokai VEX IQ Robotics League", which allows students and teachers the opportunity to participate in robotics competitions while not having to raise thousands of dollars to travel inter-island. Our biggest achievements program-wise have been winning the rookie-inspiration award at the 2019 FIRST Robotics World Championship in Houston, and taking 2nd place at the 2017 VEX IQ Elementary World Championship. My biggest achievements personally has been having multiple graduates go to pursue engineering, programming, mechanics, and other STEM careers.

Celeste Yukiko Endo

Queen Ka‘ahumanu School

Celeste Endo is a mega fan of teachers and the students we get to reach. She is an amateur researcher of goofy social experiments to see how people react to flying air hugs, Sparkle Fingers Mili stars, huge rainbow hearts, jumps for joy, & wrap around blanket of aloha hugs. She finds these methods spark smiles & brainbow connections with human kind. Celeste graduated from the University of Hawai‘i with a Bachelor’s Elementary Ed in 1996 and a Master’s ETEC in 2000. She is the 2020 KMR Complex Area Teacher of the Year and a 2022 HawaiiKidsCAN Legislative Champion. Celeste is grateful to have presented at Schools of the Future Conferences, Kam Schools Ed Tech Conferences, Grow With Us 808 Conference, Peer 2 Peer, iTeach808, Hawai‘i STEM Conference, Teach for America Hawaiʻi PD Day, Girl Scouts of Hawaiʻi Virtual STEM Fest, CSTA Hawaii Computer Science Summits, Emergency Home Learning Summit, (not just a) Green Screen Summit, faculty meetings & best of all classrooms filled with students!

The 2021 ISTE Making IT Happen Award Winners

Tami Saito

Waihe'e Elementary School

Aloha, my name is Tami Saito and I am a 5th grade teacher at Waihe’e Elementary School. This is my 6th year of teaching. Currently, I am now on the path to pursue a Ph.D. degree in Educational Technology and Design from Walden University. In 2018, I became a level 1 Google certified educator. Last year, I completed the Teacher Leader Academy and became a teacher leader. I have had the privilege to be the Future Ready School Pillar teacher, WASC lead, grade level chair, and technology lead. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to present at the KS EdTech Conferences, School of the Future Conferences, Grow with US 808 Conferences, and staff professional developments. If interested visit https://bit.ly/2XCDPHE

Zachary Morita

Niu Valley Middle

Zachary Morita is in his 14th year as a music teacher at Niu Valley Middle School. He was recently selected as a HIDOE 2020-22 Hawaii State Teacher Fellow and is a winner of the 2018 Farmers Insurance $100,000 Dream Big Teacher Challenge. He has conducted student groups at the 2019 Australian International Music Festival in the Sydney Opera House and the 2017 New York Wind Band Festival in Carnegie Hall. Zachary serves as President of the Hawaii Youth Powered Education Designers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. He has collaborated with other educators to start the #GrowWithUs808 education movement on topics such as distance learning, Desmos, and Canva. Zachary has presented at the Peer 2 Peer Power Sessions, the Beginning Teacher Summer Academy, Schools of the Future, Education Leadership Institute, and iTEaCH on “Collaboration”, “Student Voice” and “Innovation” through the use of digital resources (e.g. Social Media, Noteflight, Canva, Jamboard, Anchor, etc.) for all learners.

The 2020 ISTE Making IT Happen Award Winners

Sarah Milianta-Laffin

Ilima Intermediate School

Sarah “Mili” Milianta-Laffin teaches STE(A)M Lab at ‘Ilima Intermediate School in Hawai‘i on O‘ahu. She’s an active member of the HSTA Government Relations Committee. She’s the Policy Coordinator for GLSEN Hawai‘i, co-chairs the Teach for America HI Prism Chapter, and serves on the Hawai‘i Society for Technology in Education (HSTE) Board, along with being a local DonorsChoose.org Ambassador.

She’s the 2020 HSTA “Social Justice Teacher of the Year” (Pono Award Winner), and out of 8,000 national clubs, she sponsors the Rainbow Royales Gender Sexuality Alliance Club that just won GLSEN’s 2020 GSA of the Year. Her GSA students helped write Hawai‘i House Bill 2430 to provide free menstrual products to students in all public schools that will be reintroduced this upcoming legislative session. She was one of 5 State Finalists for the prestigious 2020 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math & Science Teaching (PAEMST), the nation's highest commendation for K-12 Math and Science teachers.

Christian Wong

Hawaii Science and Technology Museum

Christian Wong is the founder and executive director of the Hawaii Science and Technology Museum, a STEM education nonprofit based in Hilo, Hawaii. Through Christian’s leadership HSTM has served thousands of keiki on Hawaii Island with science camps, after school programs, student research, exhibits and special events.

Christian is committed to research and development and is the principal investigator of the Hiapo mission, a partnership between HSTM and Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory to launch a CubeSat into the thermosphere to collect data from the earth’s magnetic field, and then introduce CubeSat technology education in schools across Hawaii Island with functioning CubeSat prototypes for students to perform research and coordinated weather data collection. Through HSTM Christian has led the development of the Kenyan K. Beals Community Robotics Center in Hilo, a robotics laboratory and public education center to bring cutting edge technology education to the keiki of Hawaii Island.

The 2019 ISTE Making IT Happen Award Winners

Elena Kealoha

Kauai High School

I am a social studies teacher by trade, but I have recently moved to the CTE department. My school did not get a reliable wifi/internet system until 2015. Once that happened, then GAFE was introduced. From there my love for technology moved into my classroom. I was the first on campus to go paperless (mostly, unless paper form is better) and the first in my school to get level 1 and level 2 google certified. I then started doing google trainings for teachers in . my school which allowed me to attend more tech conferences. This has exploded tech in my classroom. I now use everything from Autocad, to Onshape, to 3D printing, to Makey Makey, to microbits, to laser cutting, to AR/VR, and more with my students. I have just added STEM to my social studies teaching license and am looking to add computer science next.

Luca Barcenilla

Nānākuli High & Intermediate School

Aloha mai kākou! My name is Kumu Luca and I am indiginerd. I consider myself an edtech enthusiast. I am naturally a very shy person, but if you get me started on Google, gaming, AR, or VR, I take on a whole different persona. I have been known to use Code.org, Apple Swift Playgrounds, Parrot FPV drones, Dash n Dots, Minecraft Education Editions, and 3D printing in my lessons. I am a Google Certified Educator Level 1, Seesaw Ambassador, Flipgrid Certified Level 2, and I’m pretty sure I have some Edpuzzle and some other certifications in my bag of tricks. I enjoy attending EdCamps and teaching workshops and conferences locally and nationally. I try to seek out these opportunities because I’d hate to lose out on a chance to network and learn about exciting new tech and how it can be used. I also love sharing what I have learned with my fellow kumu and haumāna. Sharing is caring.

The 2018 ISTE Making IT Happen Award Winners

Cecilia (CC) Chung

Kaimiloa Elementary

Cecilia Chung (CC) is currently an educator at Kaimiloa Elementary School in Ewa Beach. Her passion revolves around working with both teachers & students. She has worked as a classroom teacher and as an integration coach, facilitating tech integration sessions, working to remodel their library with flexible spaces, managing Twitter accounts, and simply: teaching (her true love!). She has worked as a member of the EdCamp Hawaii & West Oahu Planning Committee and worked with teachers at multiple conferences and workshops including, the Kamehameha Schools EdTech Conference as a featured presenter, various Google Summits, Schools of the Future Conference, School Empowerment Conference, various Complex PD days, and workshops at her school. She is a member of the Hawaii Society for Technology in Education (HSTE) and is currently a Hope Street Group Hawaii State Fellow, in which she and a planning team brought ECET2 CK to teachers, a celebration event of teachers and the teaching profession.

Janet Powell

Island School

Janet has been teaching for 6 years now in the state of Hawaii working for the DOE and Island School, an independent school on Kaua’i. On top of her teaching duties she has also been a robotics coach and helped provide professional development in Project Based Learning for her school. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Master’s degree in Learning design and Technology through the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has attended numerous professional development conferences and workshops over the years. After realizing how much these benefit teachers she started helping out her local HSTE chapter to plan Edcamp Kauai. Janet has a real passion for learning, connecting with other teachers, and providing opportunities for all of the students on Kauai. Janet’s newest endeavors include being the FLL Robotics Tournament Coordinator for Kauai and co-project manager for the HSTE Kauai chapter.

The 2017 ISTE Making IT Happen Award Winners

Melissa Mano

Career and Technical Education (CTE) District Educational Specialist

As a teacher, the reward was always working with the students. When I decided to work at the school district, I was unsure if I was going to like it. I did not know if the job would be motivating if I was not working with students. The first time I set foot on another school's campus, I quickly realized how motivating and rewarding it is to support teachers and schools. I then learned that in order to support students, we must support our teachers. This is what keeps me motivated each and every day and this is what keeps me enjoying my job.

Trish Morgan

STEM and Math Teacher at Stevenson Middle School

"Today, we are undergoing one of the most significant technological revolutions in education. The need to prepare students for today’s world demands that education develop an array of 21st century skills, which includes critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, problem solving, and innovation. I am passionate about creating a learning environment to help students develop these skills so they can function, learn, and adapt to the changing workforce.

My main objective as a teacher is to open the door for students and give them the opportunity to explore their own curiosities while developing new skills with the latest technology so they can become creative and innovative out-of-the box thinkers and problem solvers."

The 2016 ISTE Making IT Happen Award Winners

Laurel Oshiro

Sacred Hearts Academy

Since 2012, I have had the pleasure of developing and coordinating iTeach808: Empowering Hawaii’s Teachers In Technology conferences sponsored by Sacred Hearts Academy and the Augustine Educational Foundation. iTeach808 is a series of free professional development workshops in technology for Hawaii’s teachers. iTeach808 has helped to strengthen our school communities and align teachers’ curriculum with 21st Century learning standards. My passion is to give Hawaii’s teachers the tools to help their students contribute to a thriving global society through technology. Every year, we have about 200 participants from more than 40 different schools. 95% of participants have said that they could apply what they’ve learned directly to their classroom. Many people shared with me that they are happy that this type of grassroots conference came about and want more so we are looking forward to continuing to promote collaboration & a growing sense of community among Hawaii’s educators.

Karen Harris

Holualoa Elementary

Learning should be fun, as it inspires motivation to engage in life. The dynamic team I work with at Holualoa has helped me to achieve my goals as an educator. I have seen kids thrive in the programs we participate and coach including: First Lego League, Junior First Lego League, Vex IQ, and CoderDojo Holualoa. As a GAFE school administrator since 2011, HSTE board member since 2013, THINKfund recipient (2015-2016), and CoderDojo Holualoa co-founder I continue to think about how to create meaningful experiences and inspiring spaces. As an Educational Technology coach I hope to scale computer literacy and to encourage creativity and critical thinking to keep education meaningful, relevant, and … fun!

The 2015 ISTE Making IT Happen Award Winners

Shane Asselstine

Technology Integration Specialist at Momilani Elementary

Shane Asselstine is a Technology Integration Specialist at Momilani Elementary School. With a degree in architecture and work experience in information technology, Shane Asselstine comes with rare perspectives on technology integration in education. He says the most important part of his job is helping to integrate technology, encourage, and inspire. He is a pioneer with game-based learning in the classroom using Minecraft, KerbalEdu and Contraption Maker to ignite learning. Recently, he integrates coding and computer science. He was named the Code.org Affiliate for Hawaii and provides training to integrate computer science by bringing awareness to coding as a new literacy.

Presenter at HITC, GAFE Summit, SOFT, ISTE, Minecon, and ICEM. Interviewed by Scholastic MATH Mag, HPR and The Journal. Authored a chapter in “Minecraft in the Classroom.” Supports schools like Punahou, Kamehameha, and Sacred Hearts to name a few.

Takes part in online meetups like EdChatHi, Google Rocks! HI and EdTech Mixed Plate. He is on the EdCamp Honolulu team, the UoP College of Ed, Community Advisory Board, and a guest lecturer at UH College of Ed. He has dreamt, built, shared, taught, laughed, and walked with learners of all ages and skills.

Michael Fricano II

Technology Integration Specialist at ‘Iolani Schools

Michael Fricano II bleeds Information Technology!

He is:

University Lab School's Marybeth Baldwin reports: "Mike is the backbone of the GEG Hawaii. ... Mike is also an extremely active Google Education Trainer who makes some of the latest in educational technology understandable and accessible to teachers. He is an engaging and patient trainer who provides high-quality resources via his awesome website."

'Iolani School's Karen Neitzel notes: "Michael has done so much to support 'Iolani's faculty and students in their use of technology. He has run live and virtual workshops on a variety of topics from ibook author to Google glass. He jumped into our maker space and will be teaching a Make it 101 class to our students this coming year, helping us host our first "playground" conference. He will continue to support our faculty in their successful integration of technology into the classroom."

Michael Fricano II is a dedicated, generous, and forward-thinking educator, and he is definitely Making IT Happen.

The 2014 ISTE Making IT Happen Award Winners

Michelle Carlson Colte

Librarian at Hale Kula Elementary

Michelle never sleeps. Her persistent wondering, “What if…?” has led her team of Hale Kula teachers and students to connect with experts via Google Hangouts, synthesize learning through Minecraft, employ design thinking with school wide participation in the Cardboard Challenge and most recently, delve into Augmented Reality with 2nd graders. As the librarian at Hale Kula Elementary School, she helps teachers integrate digital and information literacy into their instruction and provides many opportunities for students to develop information and media literacy. Michelle helped her school implement one of the first Blended Learning programs at the elementary level and introduced her teachers to Google Apps for Education. Michelle received the inaugural School Librarian of the Year award from School Library Journal and Scholastic Library Publishing. In 2013, she attended the Google Certified Teacher Academy in Sydney and the Teaching With Primary Sources Summer Teacher Institute at the Library of Congress. She realized "anyone can code" when she received a $10,000 grant from Code.org for her entire school's participation in the Hour of Code. Michelle participates on two local Google Hangouts for educators: Linda Lindsay’s “Google Rocks” and “EdTech Mixed Plate.” She is a co-founder & co-moderator of #edchathi and the co-chair of Hawaii’s Nene Committee.

Linda Lindsay

Librarian at Seabury Hall

Linda Lindsay is the librarian at Seabury Hall, a college-preparatory Gr. 6-12 independent school, on the island of Maui. She is a Google Certified Teacher and an authorized Google Education Trainer. Linda is keenly interested in integration of technology in the classroom, social media best practices, digital literacy for students, and books and reading for everyone. She moderates Google Rocks! Hawaii, a weekly hangout-on-air by and for Hawaii educators, and maintains two professional blogs: mauilibrarian2 in Olinda, and SEABURY READS. When not connecting online, Linda enjoys reading, gardening, and spending time with family.

The 2013 ISTE Making IT Happen Award Winners

In 2013, HSTE presented the ISTE Making IT Happen Award for the first time. This award is presented by HSTE as an affiliate of ISTE and recognizes our local educational technology leaders who are doing fantastic things and deserve to be honored at the national level.

Mike Travis and Jordan Higa