2005 Award Recipients

Ms. Leslie Birkland
Japanese Language Category

Ms. Leslie Birkland

Leslie Okada Birkland began her Japanese teaching career in 1985, the year she introduced the Japanese language program at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland, Washington. Ten years ago, Ms. Birkland began the Japanese program at Rose Hill Junior High and currently travels between the two schools daily, teaching levels 1 through 6. She keeps busy at school as the advisor of the Japanese National Honor Society and the Anime Club. She travels with students to Japan; competes in the annual Speech and Skit Contest and teaches at the Japanese Immersion Camp which is held annually.

Ms. Birkland has been involved in Japanese language education at the local, state and national levels since 1990. She organized the Washington Association of Teachers of Japanese (WATJ) in 1990 and served as its founding president. In 1990, she helped organize the first Japanese Language Immersion Camp together with the Japan-America Society and was an active charter member of the Washington State Japanese Curriculum Guidelines Committee. In 1992 she was the president of the National Council of Japanese Language Teachers (NCJLT). Ms. Birkland was Co-President of the state language teachers’ organization (WAFLT) in 2002 and organized two conferences (state and bi-state) back to back. She has served on several ACTFL committees and made numerous presentations at conferences and workshops. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Foreign Language Committee recruited Ms. Birkland to help draft the standards for the World Languages Other Than English certificate.

She received the Washington State Teacher of the Year in 1995 and the Inspirational Leadership Award in previous years. Two years ago, she was selected by WGBH in Boston to be filmed teaching a class on culture as part of the Teaching Foreign Languages Video Series. Ms. Birkland was honored this year by the Kirkland Rotary as the Outstanding Educator of the Year.

Ms. Birkland intends to use the project funds as scholarships for students who would otherwise be unable to travel to Japan. Recipients of the scholarship would be required to design a web page, prior to the trip, introducing Lake Washington High School to sister school students in Japan. During the trip, the students would be required to document their trip and upon their return, prepare a power point photo journal of their trip, to share with elementary, junior high and high school students in the Lake Washington School District. The intention of this project is not only to promote the study of Japanese, but to expose a greater number of students in the district to Japan and its culture.

Ms. Susan Gogue
Humanities Category

Ms. Susan Gogue has been a Social Studies teacher for thirty three years; thirty years as an 8th grade World Geography and former Economics teacher at Baraboo Middle School in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Ms. Gogue incorporates the study of Japan in a six week unit. Along with her colleague, John Gunnell, they teach not only the geography and history of Japan, but incorporate dance, music, games, art and food into their unit. Students are able to read and write katakana as well greet one another in Japanese. Two highlights of the unit include a field trip to a Japanese restaurant and “Japan Night.” In October, 2004, 105 students and six chaperones participated in the field trip. Over two hundred fifty community members joined students for “Japan Night” in November, 2004 where students displayed their projects, taught guests the Tanko Bushi, introduced the visiting Japanese teachers, and sold Japanese food and goods at the Japanese Store.

Ms. Susan Gogue

In 1989, Ms. Gogue participated in the U.S. Japan Foundation trip to Japan. She was a planner and facilitator for the Great Lakes Japan in the Schools Project from 1989 to 1994. For three years, the Baraboo School District hosted Japanese teachers through the Japan Language and Cultural Program. Ms. Gogue participated in the Rocky Mountain Japan Project in 1998 in Boulder, Colorado. From 1999-2002, Baraboo was chosen to participate in the Japan Sister School Project with Chiba Prefecture. In 1999, Ms. Gogue toured Japan with the Fulbright Memorial Fund. Since 2000, she has coordinated Baraboo School District’s Japan-Wisconsin Education Connection, a program through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. This exemplary program brings one or two Japanese teachers to Baraboo for four weeks during the unit on Japan.

Ms. Gogue has been active in the Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies, serving on its executive board for twelve years. She has facilitated several sessions at the annual convention of WCSS; many on Japan. Currently, she serves on the Wisconsin Social Studies Advisory Council for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction assisting with the Performance Assessment Project and state testing projects. Currently, Ms. Gogue is the Title VII Coordinator for the Baraboo School District. In addition, she is chair of the Professional Development Committee of the South Central Education Association which provides professional development opportunities to its 1400 members.

Ms. Gogue was selected as Teacher of the Year by the Wisconsin Council of Special Education Administrators in 1983. In 1988, she was chosen Secondary Teacher of the Year for the Baraboo School District. In addition to her tours of Japan, Ms. Gogue participated in the National Council for Economic Education Study Tour to Russia in 2003 and the Goethe Institut Study Tour to Germany in 2004. In 2004, Ms. Gogue received the Senator Herb Kohl Award.

Ms. Gogue plans to utilize grant funds to expand Japan Night, to allow more students to participate in the Japan restaurant field trip, as well as provide funding for many activities during the Japan unit.