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Waiakea Elem P.E. Teacher, Win Onishi, to retire soon

April 25, 2011
Win Onishi

 

Written by HSTA-R Hawai’i Island District President, Wayne “Big Dog” Joseph

I’ve been blessed for most of my life as I’ve been able to do the things that I truly love to do. 

For 32 years my career was spent in a classroom teaching young people about life and serving as a role model.  I don’t know who said it, but I’ve lived by the creed that “Teachers teach more by what they are than by what they say.”

Such is the case of Waiakea Elementary Physical Education teacher, Win Onishi. 

Growing up in Hilo, Onishi enjoyed a variety of sports participation and was on the Hilo High football and wrestling teams.

Initially studying business for his first three years of college Onishi decided to pursue a career in education.

“I really enjoyed being physically active, so I checked out what my roommate was studying which was physical education and volunteered at a middle school,” Onishi said.

That short volunteer stint at a local middle school changed Onishi’s career direction as he discovered his true calling.

“Once I experienced the excitement of teaching young people to be active I was hooked,” Onishi said.  “I have since taught at various schools on the Big Island before finding my niche here at Waiakea Elementary.”

And what excites Onishi about teaching for the past 29 years?

“Seeing the joy on a student’s face when he or she has experienced a positive moment in a physical performance or having that ‘Aha’ moment when they understood a cognitive concept,” Onishi explained.

Outside of work Onishi remains active in a variety of activities designed to stimulate the growth of young people.

Onishi serves as the Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 19 and has been involved in scouting for the past 15 years.

“I got involved in scouting when my eldest son, Erik, was eight years old,” he said. 

For the past 16 years Onishi has been a parent supporter of Judo, first at New Hope Judo Club and now with the Hilo Hongwanji Judo Club.

Besides his involvement with scouting and judo Onishi has been coaching Elementary Track & Field and High School Wrestling for the past 31 years.

Onishi credits most of his success to having a very supportive wife, Eileen, and three children.

“Erik is now 23, Leisha is 21 and my youngest, Adam is 14,” he said.

During school Onishi will wear a pedometer and keep track of his daily steps.

“I try to stay active with my students each day, accumulating at least 10,000 steps,” he said.  “On weekends there is usually some type of activity going on, or I’ll try to get some outdoor house and yard chores done.”

As he gets older Onishi has come to realize that he needs to listen to his body more and to learn from what it is telling him

“I am becoming more conscious of what I eat, but I still eat pretty much anything, but in moderation,” he said.  “As I age I am beginning to know my limits in food and in physical exercise.”

During his physical education classes Onishi teaches with a basic philosophy.

“Always remember to educate the Whole Child,” he said.  “Our students are taught to respect others and to take responsibility for their own actions.”

People rarely succeed unless they are having fun at what they are doing and Win Onishi is a great example of a successful teacher.

“For many of our students PE is a fun class where lots of movement takes place,” he said.  “I’ve been teaching for more than two decades and I still have that passion for what I am doing.”

Onishi is as an exemplary example of someone in our community that serves as an excellent role model for our young people.

“I hope that my students will take with them a love to stay active and healthy for the rest of their lives,” Onishi said.

In writing this story about Win Onishi I was reminded by another slogan that stayed with me for my entire teaching career and that is, “Each child comes to school with a dream and a teacher’s job is to help them realize it.”

And someday should you happen to see a happily retired public school teacher jogging around East Hawaii remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

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