“Old school” chalkboards and erasers remain fixtures in many classrooms. But Chaminade University graduate Peter Kai Mana Nakoa ‘15, an instructor at Nānākuli Elementary School, knows the future of education is digital, not analog.

The knowledge Nakoa gained through Chaminade’s Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program helped him earn the prestigious “Teacher of Promise” accolade in March from the California-based Milken Family Foundation. Milken awards are often called “the Oscars of teaching.”

Peter Kai Mana Nakoa (MAT ‘15)Nakoa, affectionately known by his students as “Kumu Kai Mana,” is also the first Hawaiian Language Immersion Education teacher to win this award.

Since graduating from Chaminade, Nakoa has assumed additional leadership roles at his school on Oahu’s Leeward Coast. This includes joining a cohort that’s integrating technology into the classroom to support a Digital Common Core Curriculum. He’s also part of an instruction and assessment group that determines what curriculum will be implemented at the school.

Nakoa credits MAT with providing a solid foundation in the latest teaching methods.

“I was able to apply what I learned in my classes and use it with my current students at the time and get real results and data that I could then use to drive my instruction,” Nakoa says.

Another benefit of his Chaminade education, Nakoa says, was learning how to adapt teaching methods to multiple grade levels.

“Because I teach combination and multiple grades at one time, learning how to differentiate my instruction really does help me to address all benchmarks and standards for all my students, regardless of their grades,” Nakoa says.

And that, he says, “has become a key to ensuring that all my students succeed and holomua (progress).”


The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program is part of Chaminade’s Division of Education. MAT is designed for students who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree and and seek licensure to teach. MAT includes these state-approved licensure programs: Elementary Education with Licensure, Secondary Education with Licensure (with an emphasis in Math, Science, English or Social Studies), Special Education, and Early Childhood Education with Licensure. Chaminade’s undergraduate and graduate education degree programs are accredited by the Hawai’i Teacher Standards Board. The Montessori Program is accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education and affiliated with the American Montessori Society.