When David Sun-Miyashiro signed up with Teach For America to be a special education teacher at Wahiawā Middle School in 2008, he didn’t anticipate school would only be four days a week.
The state’s “furlough Fridays” policy was not only a controversial cost-cutting measure for Hawai‘i’s public schools but also a catalyst for Sun-Miyashiro’s passion to improve the local education system.
“I just remember how powerless I felt at the time. Here I am as a young teacher, I love working with my kids, I want to help them,” he says.
He finished his master’s in education and special education from UH and then earned a master’s degree in education, education policy and management from Harvard. He worked as a press secretary for Mazie Hirono in Washington, D.C., before returning to O‘ahu.
“I always felt like the plan was not to settle down on the East Coast or in D.C., but to take the things I had learned and bring them back to Hawai‘i,” he says.
In 2017, Sun-Miyashiro started HawaiiKidsCAN, a local advocacy chapter of the 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now, which advocates for equitable learning environments for all students.