Okinawan teachers to shadow their DODDS counterparts
September 17, 2005
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — A meeting of the minds happened here Wednesday as educators from two cultures came together to discuss a new program to teach Okinawan teachers the ways of their American counterparts.
Nine junior-high and high-school teachers from schools throughout the island will begin shadowing Department of Defense Dependents Schools teachers for 90 days beginning Oct. 4, according to Henry Meyer, DODDS-Okinawa spokesman.
Meyer said the Okinawan teachers, who teach English, science, mathematics and social studies, will be in DODDS classrooms at Kadena Middle, Kadena High, Lester Middle and Kubasaki High schools until Christmas break.
“They are going to team up with American teachers,” Meyer said. “They’re not just going to observe but they’re going to co-teach.”
The local teachers are taking part in the exchange to learn how American classrooms run and to work on their English language skills, Meyer said.
The training anticipates the Okinawa International Middle School that Okinawa’s prefectural government plans to open in 2009, according to Kiyoshi Oshiro, a teacher’s consultant from the Okinawa Prefectural Education Center.
Although international students may attend the new school, most of its students likely will be Japanese, officials have said.
Some of the Okinawan exchange participants may one day teach at the new school, where all classes except Japanese classes would be conducted in English, Oshiro said.
“Among many things I want them to learn through the program here are how American teachers prepare teaching plans, if they are different from ours, and how they interact with students,” Oshiro said.
“Another point I want them to learn is how effectively computers are used in education in American schools.”
Oshiro said if DODDS had been unwilling to host the teachers, he would have had to send them overseas for training, which would be costly.
“We are truly thankful for their generosity and open-armed hospitality,” he said.
Meyer said they are happy to help, that “we just want to be good neighbors and have them know what we’re all about.”
Elizabeth Niro, an eighth-grade science teacher at Lester Middle School, said she believes the exchange will be a great experience for teachers and students.
She said her students will be “exposed to another culture in the realm of science.”
Narumi Arakaki, a social studies teacher at Morikawa Special Education School in Nishihara, said she’s excited teachers are getting the opportunity for an educational exchange.
“We have various exchange programs for students but there was nothing for us teachers,” she said.
Arakaki said that Okinawan teachers live and work not far from their counterparts on U.S. bases “but our emotional relationship has never been close.”
“Through this program I hope that the distance is shortened.”