Commissioner Lynette Suliana Sikahema Finau was raised in Mesa, Arizona after her family’s immigration from the Island Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific. An Educator, Lynette holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies on Culture, Literature & the Arts from University of Washington. She has a dual Master’s Degree both in Education and in Leadership & Change. She is currently a PhD Candidate at Antioch University’s PhD in Leadership & Change Program. With teaching endorsements in English Composition, Literature and History, Commissioner Finau is one of very few certificated Pacific Islander teachers in WA State. She has taught in the Marysville and Tukwila school districts and is currently teaching at Spanaway Lake High School in the Bethel School District.
Recognizing the expansion of globalism in the classroom, and the underrepresentation of teachers of color both in secondary and higher education, Commissioner Finau is conducting an empirical research dissertation on the effectiveness of teachers reflecting the ethnic culture of its students and the persistent discrepancy in the racial and ethnic composition of the students and the teaching force. It is not only alarming, but it is of growing educational and public concern. It is designed with hope to increase the number of teachers of color because students need mirrors and windows, they need to see themselves reflected in the curriculum and see teachers who reflect back to them their language, their culture, their ethnicity, their religion, and their experiences. This will be as an essential component of an equitable education and toward closing the opportunity gap. Commissioner Finau is currently serving in many community and educational outreach programs. She is married to husband Paul and they have three children, Jarett, Jade and Paul Jr.