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James O. Hashman, music and video communications teacher at Matthew C. Perry High School at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, was recently selected Department of Defense Dependents Schools Japan District Teacher of the Year.

James O. Hashman, music and video communications teacher at Matthew C. Perry High School at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, was recently selected Department of Defense Dependents Schools Japan District Teacher of the Year. (Courtesy of Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station)

IWAKUNI MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, Japan — A Matthew C. Perry High School teacher has risen above the rest in Japan.

James O. Hashman, a music and video-communications teacher at Perry High, was recently designated the Department of Defense Overseas Schools Japan District Teacher of the Year.

“It’s a big honor. But as a professional, you can see your own faults, and when I think of all the fine teachers here, it makes you wonder if you are really deserving,” the 20-year classroom veteran said Friday.

“I learn from the other teachers here every day, and I can’t help but recognize that many of them are deserving of the award. But yes, I feel honored, and I’m glad to bring the award to Iwakuni.”

Along with classroom duties, Hashman has worked to expand Perry’s instrumental and choral programs since arriving in Iwakuni in 1998 with wife Marcia and their two children.

He also serves as the faculty producer of “Samurai News,” an in-school news program anchored, reported, directed and broadcast by Perry students he trains in the use of top-shelf, digital-video equipment.

He has 16 students taking part in the news broadcasts and more than 50 percent of Perry’s small student body involved in the music program.

“Students here tend to be talented in many ways,” he said. “They participate in music, sports and other activities, so the coaches and staff here work collaboratively to schedule practices in order for all the programs to be successful.”

Hashman was born in Fukuoka on an Air Force installation and says he has a special understanding of overseas students.

“The kids don’t get to make the choice [of their parents’ assignments],” said the father of Perry freshman Anna and sixth-grader Jimmy, who attends Matthew C. Perry Elementary School. “My purpose is to help them enjoy the experience of living abroad, at least while they’re in school.”

Hashman earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from Seattle Pacific University in 1983, and his master’s degree in music education from Washington University in 1996. His previous DODDS experience includes teaching in the former Panama District from 1990-98.

He’s currently recognized in Who’s Who of American Teachers, and while in Panama, he received the Panama Canal Honorary Public Service Award for his community contributions, according to a DODDS statement announcing the Japan District Teacher of the Year.

Teaching, he said, “is extremely rewarding for me. I’ve seen band students … go from being shy and timid, and within a few weeks … gain a social connection with other students.”

Hashman is a positive and nurturing teacher, said students quoted in a base news report.

“He is a genuinely nice person,” said video-communications student Lisa Garber, a Perry junior. “He tries to understand the student’s point of view and doesn’t try to walk all over them.”

By making a difference in the lives of young people, the award-winning teacher said he couldn’t be happier with his chosen field.

“From my early-childhood fantasies of leading a group of musicians, to fulfilling that dream in front of my school groups, to the opportunity to stand in front of colleagues and lead meetings, I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy my lifelong journey as an educator,” he said.

Hashman is attending an awards banquet in late March in Arlington, Va. Along with other district winners, he’s now in the running for the national DODDS Teacher of the Year award, which should be announced in April, he said.


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