HONOLULU - A middle school teacher in Kapolei was recognized for her unique teaching style by the Honolulu City Council.

Mrs. Cynthia Tong was presented with an Honorary Certificate for her work by Councilmembers Kymberly Pine, and Ron Menor.

Mrs. Tong, is changing the way students learn by changing the way they sit in her classroom.

The state of the art facilities at Ewa Makai Middle school in Kapolei would be enough for a story about education, but it's a special kind of teacher in a unique classroom that brings us here today.

Mrs. Cynthia Tong is an eighth-grade U.S. history social studies teacher. And student's in her class are learning differently, because their classroom is designed differently.

For starters, shoes are removed, and then you'll notice there are no desks.

"We've learned an awful lot in the last ten years about how the brain works, especially the adolescent brain. All the research says if you mix it up a little bit, challenge them a little bit. You find different ways to build the neuropathways they learn faster they retain more information. That's true of adults too," said Tong.

It's called "Flexible Seating." Desks are replaced with bean bags, and carpeting. It looks more like a kids bedroom than a classroom, and that's the point.

"We can't keep doing the same thing over and over again for the last 200 years and expect the same results. It's a vastly different world from the one you and I grew up in," said Tong.

With students tucked into corners, and gathered into groups, Mrs. Tong says students making their own decisions is part of the learning process.

"I have higher scores now than i have ever had in twenty-five years of teaching. All of my students including the ones who are special education do really well in my class." tong said. "they do really well in my class just because they're more relaxed. They make choices that are relevant to their learning. And a lot of it has to do with the flexible seating."

Mrs. Tong has been teaching for 25 years. She's been recognized a top educator. She's won S.T.A.C.Y. Award for Teaching Excellence by the Hawaii State Teachers Association, and just received the NEA Foundation's prestigious Horace Mann Award for National Teaching Excellence.

"My kids always hit the standards, they hit all the benchmarks that are required they are very well prepared. One of the greatest things about being a middle school teacher is they come back to you and they tell you later on, 'Oh I did this at Waipahu High,' and 'I got an A,''" said Tong.