Video featuring Cindy Marten - United States Deputy Secretary of Education - and candidate Godwin Higa on Trauma-Informed Schools.


OB RAG, September  16, 2022

Recommendations for Candidates to San Diego Unified School District Board.  Recommended candidate: Godwin  Higa

"The amount of money flowing into Hazan’s campaign is concerning. The $93,000 she has already reported dwarfs the sums raised by any other San Diego school board candidate."

"It is not just the amount but who is contributing that is worrisome.


Because Experience Matters 

"Higa has an impressive resume and breadth of knowledge" SDUT Editorial Board May 13, 2022


SD4GVP San Diego for Gun Violence Prevention

"It is our honor to award you the Gun Violence Prevention Candidate designation." May 24, 2022

Why Trauma-Informed/Restorative Justice Schools...
One generation often inherits poverty, addiction, family violence, and lost potential from another.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study from the CDC shows why; trauma and pain in childhood last a lifetime and cause a lifetime of problems unless addressed by mental health experts!

Godwin Higa has dedicated his life as an educator and leader to promoting equity and equal access to education for all
students. Godwin was actively involved in creating schools with a true sense of community and has been successful in promoting education reform throughout California, Oregon, and Hawaii.

With his 27 years in education and administration for SDUSD, he has proven to be a dedicated, compassionate, and
an overwhelmingly qualified candidate for District B.


Making a difference

Addressing the School to Prison Pipeline

Godwin Higa, retired principal of 20 years/ District Teacher of the Year; I am currently a Human Relations Commissioner, Adjunct Professor at Alliant University, San Diego, and a Trauma-Informed/Restorative Justice consultant. In the State of Hawaii with proven results!

I am the most qualified candidate running for this office that can make a difference in the educational system that we desperately need.

Schools continue to struggle with student achievement, inequity concerns, challenges with unacceptable suspension and expulsion rates, especially with students of color, unsatisfactory graduation rates, and in many cases, poor fiscal responsible leadership, and punitive actions on school employees.

But more importantly, we need to STOP the School to Prison Pipeline! And this is how we will accomplish this…

Challenges must be dealt with head-on, so my priority is executing Trauma-Informed and Restorative Justice schools that focus on the pain that most traumatized students are experiencing currently and in the past that prohibits them from learning. Especially now with students and staff returning to school who experienced social isolation! And other traumatized experiences.  In my opinion, this is a significant progressive movement in Education Reform TODAY!

My last school was Cherokee Point Elementary School in the Mid-City area of San Diego. The community with the highest Domestic Violence % and high crime in SD. was the first Trauma-Informed/ Restorative Justice School in SD with excellent results! Zero suspensions and expulsions, an average 97-98% student attendance rate, one of the school district's highest teacher retention rates, and we stopped punitive actions against adults!

The CEO of a company is like a principal at a school; we are responsible for the overall success of the organization/schools, including the vision, mission, comprehensive strategies, develops strategic objectives, oversees the quality of programs, is a financial, facilities, human resource manager, community and public relations, and a grant writer. I have these experiences and more running Elementary and Secondary schools.

I will be a strong voice of reason, the voice of the voiceless; I would be able to challenge questionable directives, investigate, and find solutions to challenges in the district.

I am confident that I could lead our district and work collaboratively with board members and bargaining units to utilize these professional endeavors with my wealth of expertise.

My mission is to create a positive learning environment where children of all backgrounds are given the right support to reach their full potential.

My promise is to serve and empower students, teachers, and families of all backgrounds.

My years of experience as a teacher and principal have taught me that we must learn and adapt to best serve our students and community. This can only happen if the voices of our children, parents, teachers, and community leaders are heard.

Let's work together!

Godwin Higa for School Board 2022 | FPPC ID: 1443092

Political contributions are not tax-deductible for Federal or State purposes as charitable contributions. San Diego Unified School District campaign regulations places a limit on contributions to a maximum of $750.00 per individual per election (Primary & General). Spouses may contribute $1,500.00 per election per couple if both spouses are authorized on the banking account. Contributions from businesses, labor unions, PACs, and other types of "organizations" are prohibited. It is unlawful for a contributor to be reimbursed by any organization, company, or individual. All contributions are publicly disclosed when a donor contributes $100 and above.

Godwin pictured second to left
Godwin pictured second to left

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Godwin pictured second to left
Godwin pictured second to left

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News Title

Godwin Higa was born and raised in Kaneohe, Hawaii. He is
from a family of hard-working farmers who immigrated to the United
States from Okinawa, Japan to build a life in a new country.

Godwin grew up in a single mother led household with five brothers and
sisters. While mom had to work several jobs to make ends meet, the
family stuck together was supported by extended family, friends,
teachers, and community members. Having this support growing up
inspired him to want to give back and help others.

To pursue his dreams of becoming a teacher, he moved to the “mainland”
and settled in San Diego 36 years ago. Since then, he has taught
children from all backgrounds, worked in diverse communities, and
connected with families from all walks of life. Under his leadership
as principal together with teachers and parents, he set up the first
Trauma-Informed school at Cherokee Point.


Meet Godwin

Godwin Higa was born and raised in Kaneohe, Hawaii. He is from a family of hard-working farmers who immigrated to the United States from Okinawa, Japan to build a life in a new country. Godwin grew up in a single mother-led household with 1 brother and 4 sisters. While mom had to work several jobs to make ends meet, the family stuck together was supported by extended family, friends, teachers, and community members. Having this support growing up inspired him to want to give back and help others. To pursue his dreams of becoming a teacher, he moved to the “mainland” and settled in San Diego 36 years ago. Since then, he has taught children from all backgrounds, worked in diverse communities, and connected with families from all walks of life. Under his leadership as principal together with teachers and parents, he set up the first trauma-Informed school at Cherokee Point.


Career in Education

1990: Teacher at Donovan Correctional Facility State Prison in San


1993-1995: GATE Mentor Teacher, ASDEG (Association of San Diego Educator

of the Gifted)

1990-1993: Teacher, Pacific Beach Elementary School

1993-1995: Teacher, Bird Rock Elementary School, La Jolla

1995-1999: Teacher, Dingeman Elementary School

1998-2000: Mentor Teacher, ASDEG

1999-2000: Vice Principal, Boone Elementary School

2000-2004: Principal, Penn Elementary School

2004-2008: Principal, Standley Middle School

2008-2017: Principal, Cherokee Point Elementary School


Proven Track Record

  • 30 years of experience in education as a teacher and principal 

  • Created the First Trauma-Informed School in San Diego, Cherokee Point Elementary School in the Mid-City area of San Diego

  • Named San Diego Unified School District Teacher of the Year from Dingeman Elementary School in Scripps Ranch

  • Presented at the California Conference of 30 county judges and other agencies on addressing the school-to-prison pipeline, then worked with the San Diego Juvenile Hall Judge to implement a county plan.

  • Named Principal of the Year by the Mid-City and City Council for promoting school and community involvement by the San Diego City Council

  • Was instrumental in securing and implementing, alongside his team, a $1,397,000 grant from the California Endowment-$947K to Cherokee Point and $450K to the SDSU Restorative Justice Program.

  • Was actively involved with the Mid-City Police Department, working closely with the Captain to ensure open communication for a safe community.

  • Teacher at Donovan Correctional Facility State Prison in San Diego.

  • Worked as hospice patient volunteer for elderly and AIDS patients for five years in Hemet and San Diego.

  • Helped a most challenging Hawaiian school district win promising results and academic gains by lowering the suspension rate in most schools and eliminating suspensions altogether in others, by increasing graduation rates, and by increasing teacher retention by over 50%.

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The first Trauma-Informed / Restorative Justice School in San Diego!


Understanding Trauma Inspires Parents to Become Leaders (English) - YouTube


In the Press

Read All About It

Godwin Higa is a former teacher and principal of the year in the San Diego Unified School District and currently serves as an adjunct professor at Alliant International University-San Diego Campus. He is a nationally recognized expert on trauma-informed teaching practices and restorative justice. He is currently a candidate for the San Diego school board.

Read More
Read More

Trauma in Schools #26 — Creating Caring School Environment for Students,

Teachers must lead with compassion to connect with students and make them feel safe. To do this, teachers should try to remove any isolating, invalidating, and harmful aspects within the classroom. A safe and healing environment helps students develop socially and academically, especially after experiencing or during a traumatic event.


How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime | Nadine Burke Harris

  1. Why is it important that teachers understand the neuroscience of trauma in addition to the practices?

  2. How can youth be involved in restorative practices in the school community?

  3. How do trauma-informed practices impact academic outcomes in students? 

  4. What can the school do for students coming back to class after experiencing trauma?

  5. How can educational staff become more open-minded about trauma-informed practices? 

  6. What can teachers do to learn about generational trauma, ethnic struggles, and equality? 

  7. What are certain types of abuse that students can experience in school and how can we combat it?


Why Trauma-Informed/Restorative Justice Schools

Videos, news articles, interviews, and public testimonies 

We must create a positive learning environment to allow students to thrive. Focusing on a safe and compassionate learning environment before focusing on academics is essential to student success! 

Ask - What's Happening to you? NOT - What's wrong with you!


San Diego Union Tribune




ACES - Adverse Childhood Experience Survey

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San Diego Union Tribune

Honolulu Civil Beat


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What is ACEs Adverse Childhood Experiences


Upstreamist in Education - Trauma Informed 


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Godwin Higa for San Diego Unified School Board Member District B Welcomes You

Making a Difference

Godwin Higa for San Diego Unified School Board Member District B is and has always been devoted to the people. That’s what being a Political Candidate is all about, Godwin Higa for San Diego Unified School Board Member District B is now taking it to politics. It’s this intense dedication, passion, and devotion that fuels their fight for change. Explore the site to learn more about the issues that Godwin Higa for San Diego Unified School Board Member District B is concerned with, their plan to tackle the problems and ways you can join the cause.

Contribute Today

Endorsements and Supporters

Supporters of Godwin's Candidacy

Jesse Kohler, Executive Director
The Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice

Project Subtitle

The Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP), a national nonprofit organization focused on supporting all individuals, families, and communities strongly endorses Godwin Higa for the San Diego Unified School Board. As a principal in the San Diego school system, Mr. Higa demonstrated he knows how to put trauma science to work in order to turn schools around, reduce suspensions, improve teacher retention, and improve academic performance. If elected, we are confident that Mr. Higa will bring that same expertise and achieve the same kinds of results for all of the schools in San Diego.

Neuroscientists have shown that developmental adversity (including but not limited to Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs) produces changes in the brain that can cause a person to suffer behavioral, emotional, physical, and social problems caused by high levels of stress for the rest of their lives. Both staff and students bring stress with them into the school environment and it is a major reason students get into trouble (both academically and disciplinarily) and teachers burn out. Particularly now, as our society continues to work through the stress and adversity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we need educational leaders like Godwin who understand methods to meet the psycho-social-emotional-spiritual needs of everyone who is part of the school environment.

Mr. Higa has demonstrated that he understands how to create culture change in schools that help the staff and students alike learn to remain calm and be able to access their cognitive/thinking brain, as well as how to regulate more easily when something triggers them. Applying this science in order to create a trauma-informed school, Mr. Higa not only has been able to reduce suspensions and improve teacher retention significantly, his program was able to eliminate the need for a school resource officer because serious disciplinary problems largely disappeared under his supervision.

CTIPP is advocating with school districts throughout the country to implement such trauma-informed initiatives San Diego is fortunate to have an educational leader who has successfully done such work in the past running for their school board. Mr. Higa has worked to teach his approach to school officials around the country. If elected to the School Board, he will be in a position to promote the implementation of these successful approaches throughout the San Diego Unified School District, benefiting everyone who is a part of school environments throughout the district.

These approaches require commitment from the district and school leadership to put the science to work. If elected, Mr. Higa will be in a position to provide that leadership for the District and produce the same extraordinary results he produced at his school, which is why we endorse him as a candidate.


Jesse Kohler

Executive Director

Linda Sheridan, CEO/Founder
San Diego Cultural Arts Alliance

“Godwin Higa, My Choice for San Diego Unified School Board Member, District B”

As CEO and Founder of San Diego Cultural Arts Alliance, I met Mr. Higa 8 years ago. I was invited to his school, Cherokee Pt. Elementary School, to discuss running our program, Graffiti Education & Mural Arts Program, for his students and leaving behind some of the best work we’ve seen of the students mural artwork.

As Godwin walked me across the campus to familiarize myself with the school, I was stunned by what I saw and felt at this school and among its students. The campus overall was extremely peaceful. Students kept running up to hug him and he knew all of their names. This was incredulous to me in a school of over 500 students of a multi-cultural population.

Soon I learned that Mr. Higa had created this school to be Trauma-Informed. And because of this, he created a safe and loving environment for these hard-pressed young people. In the later years of his tenure there were no expulsions among his students. I have neither experienced nor heard of any school with this kind of track record.

How can the City of San Diego and its citizens not demand to have such a leader on their School Board. Join me here and now. Support and vote for Godwin Higa, San Diego Unified School Board Member, District B.
I have never been so impressed by an individual and what they have created.

Dan Press, Native Affairs Attorney at Van Ness Feldman

Key Policy

Godwin Higa is a nationally recognized expert on improving schools through the application of the latest scientific discoveries about how early childhood adversity causes damage to the brain that in turn produces problems in the classroom. Schools he has worked with throughout the country, beginning with his own school, as former principal at Cherokee Point Elementary School, have seen dramatic decreases in suspensions and expulsions while increasing teacher retention. If elected to the San Diego School Board, Mr. Higa will be able to bring these same dramatic benefits to the San Diego Schools.
I host a monthly call-in show that features outstanding programs that are applying trauma-informed approaches to the many problems studies have shown have childhood trauma as their underlying cause, including youth suicide, substance abuse, diabetes, obesity, and poor performance in schools. This past Spring Mr. Higa presented on the trauma-informed initiative he implemented at the Cherokee Point Elementary School.
We know that early childhood adversity causes changes to the brain that cause the victim to live with high levels of stress for the rest of their lives. When students bring that stress to the classroom, they are easily triggered by the smallest incident, leading them to act out, get suspended, and get expelled. Mr. Higa implemented a program in which the teachers understood what was triggering these students gave the teachers tools to help students reduce their stress levels, and gave them ways to help students who were triggered to return to the classroom after having learned what they did wrong.
The results were dramatic. There was a 90% decrease is suspensions and Mr. Higa had to find another use for the Resource Officer because there were no more disciplinary problems for the Resource Officer to deal with. Perhaps most significant was the decrease in teacher turnover. Once teachers had tools for dealing with and preventing students from acting out in class, the teachers were able to do what they became teachers for – to teach and not just be disciplinarians.
Mr. HIga’s presentation on my call went viral and he has been contacted by educators from around the country for help in implementing similar programs in their schools. If elected to the San Diego School Board, Mr. Higa will be in a position to promote similar programs in the San Diego Schools, producing similar results and improving the entire school system. This is an opportunity for the San Diego Schools to become a model program, showing the improvements that can be achieved by applying brain science to the classroom. That is why I strongly support Mr. Higa’s candidacy for the San Diego School Board.

Mike Gregory

Clinical Professor of Law

Director, Education Law Clinic

Acting Faculty Director, Child Advocacy Program

Harvard Law School

The Stakes are High

To be updated

Lisa Kitagawa
Hawai‘i State Representative, District 48

Key Policy

To be updated

Asian American Pacific Islander Club of San Diego 


The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities are among the fastest growing communities across the nation. In fact, there are over 350,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across San Diego County alone . This is nearly 11% of the County population.
As more and more AAPIs register to vote and participate in our democratic process, it is incumbent on the Democratic Party to best reflect the values and priorities of this diverse community.
Within that context, the AAPI Democratic Club of San Diego strives to build a lasting relationship between the AAPI community and the Democratic Party by highlighting and connecting our shared values. Together, we work to elect Democratic candidates, cultivate leadership in the AAPI community, and advocate for issues pertinent to AAPI families.

San Diego Democrats for Equality


San Diego Democrats for Equality is one of the largest Democratic Clubs in Southern California. The club has an incredibly rich history and remains one of the oldest active LGBTQ+ organizations in the United States. The history of the organization closely mirrors the progression of the national struggle for LGBTQ+ rights. It is a history that members are exceedingly proud of and rightly so.

San Diego Democratic Party (SDCDP) supporter


The San Diego County Democratic Party is the official organization for Democrats in the fifth-largest county in the U.S. With more than 730,000 members, we represent the second-largest community of Democrats in California. As the local embodiment of "America's Majority Party" for voters and candidates alike, we advance our goals through several ongoing programs:

Endorsement from the Committee to Support Cultural Diversity

For a Better Future

Our Committee has been greatly enriched by having Godwin Higa as an active member for the past five years.  He embodies the rare combination of unflagging passion for making sure that each student is treated with respect, and the years of experience in the classroom -- and as an administrator -- to know the practical aspects of achieving that goal.  
Godwin has assisted our group in many ways -- including helping us stay informed about legislation at the state and national level, which could help address bullying, suicide rates, and help provide Restorative Practices and Restorative Justice at the local, state, and national levels.  He also is a strong voice of experience as we set out to provide resources that will help support teachers, students, and parents -- and how best to offer those resources in user-friendly ways.   
With Godwin on the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education, we believe that our students will benefit greatly from his attention to both high academic standards, and to the well-being of the whole child, which is crucial to making academic achievement a reality.

Want to find out more? Get in touch today.