2003 Award Recipients

Dr. Sachiko Murphy
Japanese Language Category

Dr. Sachiko Murphy

Dr. Sachiko Murphy teaches Japanese language to 9th through 12th grade students at the Central Campus of Des Moines Public Schools, Des Moines, Iowa. Dr. Murphy began her teaching career in 1985 when she traveled to Iowa as an exchange teacher through the Des Moines-Kofu Sister Cities Teacher Exchange Program.

Soon after beginning her career, Dr. Murphy organized a program for Japanese high school exchange students to visit elementary schools in the Des Moines area to share their culture with area students. She also organized a Japan Day for students, teachers, and community members to familiarize themselves with Japanese history and culture and founded a Japanese conversation club for the people in the community. Dr. Murphy has also developed a curriculum for teaching Japanese to elementary students that has been presented nationally and has been used in a summer program for teaching Japanese and Chinese to elementary students in Central Iowa.

In 1997 Dr. Murphy established the Iowa-Yamanashi Internet Project, in which three high schools and two middle schools in Yamanashi collaborated online with schools in Iowa. This project was initiated through the Iowa-Yamanashi Sister State project, one of the oldest sister state relationships between the U.S. and Japan. In 1998, educators from Yamanashi visited Iowa to meet the teachers involved in this online project, and in 1999 Koma High School, one of the participating schools, sent a group of students to Iowa. Soon thereafter Yamanashi Gakuin High School also sent students to Iowa, followed by Iowa students traveling to Japan. This led to the development of a full-fledged annual exchange program of which Dr. Murphy serves as the Coordinator.

Dr. Murphy is credited with increasing the number of students enrolled in Japanese at her school five-fold since 1985. She is an active presenter at national conferences of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and state conferences for the Iowa Council for the Social Studies. She has served as vice president of the Iowa-Yamanashi Sister State committee and currently is a Commissioner of the Des Moines Sister Cities Commission.

Now, eighteen years since her arrival in Des Moines, Dr. Murphy has remained committed to teaching students in Iowa about Japan and Japanese culture in addition to teaching the Japanese language. She is most proud of the fact that she has produced two Japanese language teachers in Iowa, numerous Japanese majors, and many former students are working in or conducting business with Japan.

Murphy will utilize project funds to bring artists from Yamanashi Prefecture to Iowa. These artists will lead presentations and workshops on traditional Japanese arts for students in local schools and for community members.

Ms. Patricia Burleson
Humanities Category

Ms. Patricia Burleson

Ms. Patricia Burleson teaches 4th, 5th and 6th grade classes for gifted students at Island View Elementary School in Anacortes, Washington. She began incorporating Japan into her classes twenty-six years ago when teaching in the Kent School District in Washington State, which has a strong Sister City relationship with Kaibara, Japan. In 1989 Burleson was accepted to the Asian Studies Institute, a three-year series of intense summer study on Japan and China, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and directed by the East Asia Resource Center at the University of Washington. Based on knowledge learned from this institute, Burleson developed curriculum materials that were recognized nationally by the Asia Society.

After traveling to Japan in 1992 with a teacher exchange program sponsored by Hyogo Prefecture through the Hyogo Business and Cultural Center in Seattle, Ms. Burleson initiated a sister-school program with a school on Ieshima, a small island off of Himeji. Concurrent to working on this program, Burleson and a colleague created a year-long high school class on Japan at Lopez Island High School. In 2000 she applied and received funding from the Freeman Foundation to take students from this class on a study tour to Japan. In 2002 she led another study tour to Japan, this time for teachers from the Anacortes, Washington area.

An active board member of the Washington State Council of Social Studies, Ms. Burleson regularly facilitates workshop sessions at state and national conferences, many of them about Japan. As an instructor for the National Consortium for Teaching About Asia, Burleson also trains teachers from throughout Washington State to incorporate East Asia into their courses.

A former Washington State Council of Social Studies Teacher of the Year, Burleson will use award funds to provide her students with part-time Japanese language instruction, to purchase Japanese language software, to take students on field trips to Japan-related sites, and to provide a course for local teachers focusing on Japan.