Nakayama A Shining Example

Steve Murray
Wednesday - September 29, 2010
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Todd Nakayama

A Waipahu High School teacher received national recognition recently for his efforts to prepare students for jobs in the travel industry.

At a luncheon held in June in Phoenix, Ariz., Todd Nakayama was awarded the 2010 Lamp of Knowledge Award for Outstanding High School Educator and a Teachers of Excellence Award by the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI). To say the least, the honor was a surprise.

“I didn’t even have the idea they had this award. I just thought we were all there (to meet) and that was it,” he said.

According to the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association, the award recognizes exceptional teachers who use the Lodging Management Program school-to-career curriculum in their classroom. The program was developed by AHLEI to help prepare high school students for work in the travel industry though course-work, work experience and scholarships.

“My program is a two- to three-year program called the Academy of Travel and Tourism,” said the teacher, who has the added challenge of instructing a large section of students to whom English is a second language.

“We focus on career and college readiness, so part of that two- or three-year focus is travel and tourism. We can get them college credit through the program, and we can also get them certifications (from the American Hotel and Lodging Association) that not only includes passing the exams but also completing an internship.”

Students also gain experience by planning a luncheon to help offset the cost of attending the national LMP competition in Florida.

Nakayama says programs like his are becoming rare as budget cuts are forcing schools to eliminate electives.

“Business, which is an elective course, has been dying over the years,“he said. “Schools that used to have five or six teachers so they could teach a number of business courses have lost the ability.

“Waipahu High School has the biggest department in the state when it comes to business.”


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