Our Islands, Our Future

“Math is something you don’t want to rush. You need to learn it step by step, and you have to teach it step by step.” — Ann Arakawa, retired Assistant Math Professor

In her 30-year career as a college math teacher, Ann Arakawa found that students who overcame feeling intimidated by math became successful. “There’s a lot of fear and anxiety out there about math,” said Arakawa, the wife of Mayor Alan Arakawa. “Once they get over the fear, they usually do fine.” Now retired, Mrs. Arakawa spends her time overseeing the family budget and volunteering with the accounting of her husband’s campaign finances. “I love math, and I’m pretty good at it. I also enjoyed teaching math tremendously.”

Asked what advice she would give math teachers, Arakawa encouraged grade-level educators to be patient and engaging. “With the young ones, you need to find a way to make math fun,” she said. “Math is something you don’t need to rush. You need to learn it step by step, and you have to teach it step by step.” She said her college students often expressed regret about not taking math seriously in high school. Many of them expressed interests in a future in computer science and technology but without math skills, they couldn’t move forward. “I tell them half the battle is the motivation and the desire,” she said, “after that you pretty much can accomplish whatever you want.” Arakawa said she’s especially keen on educational initiatives that promote grade and high school science, technology, engineering and math.

Ann Arakawa and her husband, Mayor Alan Arakawa, will be hosting “Are You Smarter than a STEM 5th Grader?” a fun and engaging contest for attendees during the annual Maui Economic Development Board Ke Alahele Education Fund Dinner & Auction on Saturday, Aug. 24 at the Grand Wailea Resort. “I think it’s so important for us to support our youth and the future of our community,” Arakawa said. For more information about the Ke Alahele fundraiser, call MEDB at 875-2300, or visit: