Denise K. Karratti

2021-22 In-Service Public School Educator Scholarship Recipient

Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School

Since she was in the 3rd grade, Denise Karratti was fascinated by teachers and the impact that a teacher has on his or her students. She was surrounded by family members who were also teachers. While teaching seemed like a logical career path, the pay was initially discouraging. Following in her father’s footsteps, Denise decided to pursue dual undergraduate degrees in civil engineering and forest engineering. But by her third year in college, she realized that engineering was not for her.

“In my junior year, I switched over and committed to teaching,” said Denise, who is currently an academic coach at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School in Lihue on Kauai.

Denise has since had a storied career as an educator. She now has her master’s degree in teaching and has held various leadership positions at both the elementary and middle school levels. She is also a Hawaii State Teacher Fellow, a graduate of the Teacher Leader Academy, and a National Board Certified Teacher.

“The Japanese term kaizen means ‘continuous improvement’ and that discipline was ingrained in me from a young age,” said Denise. “These experiences have stretched me and I always go in knowing that I don’t know everything.”

Since receiving the scholarship, she has gained a deep appreciation for what HEA does to support educators. With three young children and a husband who is just starting his own career in teaching, Denise is grateful to be selected for a 2021-22 HEA In-Service Public Educators Scholarship as she pursues her master’s degree in Education Leadership, School Administrator Certification from Chaminade University.

As she envisions her career pathway from teacher to administrator, Denise wants to be a champion for teachers who champion students.

“Eventually, I would like to become a principal who, as an ambassador, brings together stakeholders to create public schools our keiki can thrive in,” she said.



Share your story with us! Our teachers are a great source of encouragement, inspiration and positive life transformations. Many of us have had a teacher who has made a major impact on our lives or helped us to simply do better.

HEA wants to showcase testimonials about amazing teachers to highlight the importance of our local educators. These stories will be featured throughout our website, newsletter and social media in 2021 as part of HEA’s 100th anniversary celebration.


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