2009 Award Recipients

Mrs. Mamiya Sahara Worland
Japanese Language Category
Japanese Immersion Teacher
Great Falls Elementary School
Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

Mrs. Mamiya Sahara Worland

Mrs. Mamiya Sahara Worland was born and raised in Japan.  She graduated from Sophia University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Law.  After coming to the United States, she received a Master’s Degree in Education from George Mason University with a Title 7 scholarship.  She has been teaching in Fairfax County, Virginia, for nineteen years.

Mrs. Worland, who is called “Sahara Sensei” in school, currently teaches 1st and 3rd grade at Great Falls Elementary School in Fairfax County.  Sahara Sensei believes that immersion language education requires constant engagement.  If the students are actively engaged in the lessons taught in Japanese, they will focus much better. By using varied activities such as video taping, viewing tapes, writing, drawing, listening, reading books aloud, story telling, singing, dancing, cooking, tasting, role-playing, crafting, and speaking, she can reach every student through their preferred learning style.

In addition to her participation in workshops and in-service programs, she has also participated in numerous conferences, such as the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)m the Northeast Conference on Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL), the National Council of Japanese Language Teachers (NCJLT), the National Network Early Language Learning (NNELL), the Foreign Language Association of Virginia (FLAVA), and the Greater Washington Association of Teachers of Foreign Languages (GWATFL).  She has also made presentations at these conferences.

Sahara Sensei has contributed to Japanese language and cultural education on many levels.  She believes that exposing students to Japanese culture involves a two-way exchange, so she has worked hard to establish and maintain contacts with organizations here and abroad to provide her school with these opportunities. Each year, she has taken students, parents, and principals to Japan where they have met sister schools, local families, and dignitaries.  In addition, she and the Japanese Immersion families have reciprocated by hosting students and teachers from Japanese sister schools on their visits to America.

In addition to international exchange programs, for the past several years, she has led up to 120 students and parents in the National Cherry Blossom Parade and Sakura Matsuri Festival in Washington, DC.  Her students have also participated in a Pentagon event called “A Lifetime of Language Learning”.   Her students have also participated in various contests throughout the year, such as the NCJLT sponsored Nengajo contest, the Mid-Atlantic Association for Teachers of Japanese (MAATJ) sponsored Haiku contest, and the Itoen sponsored Haiku contest in Japan.  They have also participated in cultural celebrations such as the New Year’s Festival sponsored by the Embassy of Japan, and other events at the Japan Information Culture Center, and the Japan Commerce Association of Washington, D.C., Inc.

Currently, Sahara Sensei is serving as a vice president of NCJLT and has been honored as a National Teacher of the Year 2007 by NCJLT.  She was re-elected as a co-president for the MAAJT in 2008 for the third time where she has been working to connect and communicate with different levels of Japanese teachers, from elementary to college.  She was honored as a Mead Leadership Fellow by NECTFL.  She also was appointed as a consultant for the World Language Other than English committee by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) in March, 2008 and worked on revising the national standards.  The revised standards were approved by the NBPTS board in November, 2008.

Sahara Sensei has been featured in numerous publications and television broadcasts such as Public Broadcasting System (PBS), and Nihon Hose Koki (NHK).  She has appeared in major national and local newspapers both in the U.S. and in Japan.

In the local community, she has been a judge for the Japan Bowl for the high school student’s Japanese language contest for the past five years.  She also has volunteered as a selection panelist for the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program for the past three years.  She has maintained a close relationship with the volunteers from Washington Tokyo Women’s club.  In 1994, Sahara Sensei and her school were honored when the Emperor and Empress of Japan visited Great Falls Elementary during their state visit to the United States.

Sahara Sensei would like to use the project fund for a Japanese Garden at Great Falls Elementary School.  The school recently started a much needed renovation. Watching the former classrooms being destroyed has been heartbreaking for her first and third grade students. She wanted to think of something that would provide a positive environment in the midst of all the destruction.

The school has lost both a beautiful Habitat garden and a small Japanese garden in the front part of the school.  The children used to spent time planting flower seeds, releasing butterflies, and looking at clouds in the sky from these gardens.  This was the spot where children created ideas for their Haiku poems.

Sahara Sensei has met with three experts to work on the Japanese garden.  The completion of the garden will be celebrated with a huge celebration. This Japanese Garden will be famous in the town of Great Falls and will remain in the children’s minds for a long time.  They may come back to school with their own children someday, so that they can share their memories together.

Mrs. Barbara Horowitz
Humanities Category
Gifted Support Teacher
Julia R. Masterman Demonstration School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mrs. Barbara Horowitz

Mrs. Barbara Horowitz has been a Gifted Support teacher at the Julia R. Masterman Demonstration School, in Philadelphia, since 1991.  Masterman is a nationally recognized Blue Ribbon and Middle States Accredited School.  Students attending Masterman School come from every neighborhood of Philadelphia and encompass many varied ethnicities and backgrounds.

Mrs. Horowitz’s interest in Japan began as a young girl with an admiration and intrigue of her grandmother’s Japanese artwork and many pieces of clothing from Asia.  She developed a strong connection with Japanese culture focusing on art, fashion and history.

In 1992, Mrs. Horowitz was chosen as one of the representatives from her school to participate in the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia’s Schools of Excellence program.  This led to her participation in the first Phila Nipponica trip to Japan administered by the Center for East Asian Studies of the University of Pennsylvania, World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, and the School District of Philadelphia.  During the three week study tour she visited schools, cultural and historical places of interests, and met with Japanese dignitaries. Since 1997, Mrs. Horowitz has taught Japan to selected groups and for the last four years has introduced a Japanese program to all sixth grade students.  Her goal as a teacher is to give her students a hands-on, realistic experience of Japan that will broaden their knowledge and understanding of this complex and fascinating country.

Mrs. Horowitz has organized her classroom to represent an authentic Japanese elementary school; focusing on group dynamics and responsibility, sense of community and putting students in charge of the class.  Following Japanese tradition, students refer to her as Horowitz-sensei. A different class leader (toban) has the honor of taking charge of the class each period.  Students are seated in cooperative learning groups (han) and have chosen a han leader (hancho) on their own. As in Japanese elementary schools, classroom work and projects are all done collaboratively.  She feels that this approach teaches students dependency on each other and that it reinforces the Japanese thinking “none of us is as smart as all of us.”  Many guest speakers have been invited into Mrs. Horowitz’s classroom to give a first hand account of authentic Japan.  Through these many experiences the students have gained an insight into Japanese life in the 21st century.

Since 1997, Mrs. Horowitz has given many presentations, lectures and workshops to a range of educators from Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, staff members and parents.  These include presenting at a “Schools of Excellence” meeting, the MAARS Conference held at Gettysburg College and for the last four years she has presented at the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia “East Asia Seminars.” She has appeared on the School District of Philadelphia’s cable channel discussing her trip to Japan. Recently, she presented “How to Incorporate the Teaching of Japan into the Classroom” to participants of the 2009 Phila-Nipponica group who visited Japan duruing the summer of 2009. As the Gifted Support Liaison for the Central Region of the School District of Philadelphia in 2003-2004, she organized and led a seminar for other gifted support teachers.  Here she discussed and modeled many different gifted support activities, with an emphasis on Japan.  As a demonstration school teacher, educators from Philadelphia, and around the world, have had the opportunity to observe Mrs. Horowitz teaching.

She has presented at Masterman’s staff developments and Family Night. Her growing collection of books, music, websites, artifacts and other resources are used by the staff as well as the unit on samurai that she has written. Mrs. Horowitz is seen as valuable resource on Japan to the teachers and students of her school.

In 2005, Mrs. Horowitz returned to Japan with Phila Nipponica II- Multicultural Japan and has extended her studies of Asia through a trip to China in 2006.  She continues to be a life long learner of Japan and participates in seminars and lectures given at the University of Pennsylvania. She also participated in the World Affairs Council of Washington, D.C.’s “Looking Toward Asia” five day Summer Institute.  Mrs. Horowitz was a member of The Japan America Society and now belongs to Japan II, a group which organizes trips to increase the awareness of Japan.

Mrs. Horowitz will utilize her project funds to expand the teaching of Japan into the high school, build a tea house, and provide the Instructional Materials Center and staff with more Japanese resources.