2013 Award Recipients
Ms. Sachiko Kono
Japanese Language Category
Teacher of Japanese Language and Culture
Anchorage School District, Anchorage, Alaska
Ms. Sachiko Kono is a dedicated Japanese language educator. Her work contributed to an increased interest in the learning of Japanese and as a result, in 1986, the Fairbanks district approved the first Japanese FLES (Foreign Language in the Elementary School) program in Alaska. Sachiko was selected for the Japanese FLES teacher position at Weller Elementary School where she taught Japanese language and culture lessons during the school day. Sachiko was also responsible for the development of Japanese language curriculum and teaching materials.
Ms. Kono also helped set up a Japanese internship program for Weller School. In 1989 Weller Elementary School was recognized nationally as one of 11 schools in the U.S. to receive an “Outstanding Elementary School Award.”
In 1990, Sachiko moved to south central Alaska to accept a Japanese language teaching position in the Anchorage School District’s Japanese Partial Immersion Program at Sand Lake Elementary School. Only in its second year, the district’s program principal selected Sachiko because she was a native speaker of Japanese, educated in Japan, who successfully implemented and taught in a Japanese FLES program. And so it was that Sachiko began her career of 23 years teaching the second grade in the Japanese Immersion Program. The Anchorage School District’s Japanese program now extends from Kindergarten through 12th grade in three schools: Sand Lake Elementary, Mears Middle School, and Dimond High School with a total of nearly 600 students. This school year (2013-14) celebrates the 13th graduating class from the district’s Japanese Immersion Program.
When Sachiko teaches the second grade social studies curriculum, “communities,” her students learn the geography of Anchorage, Alaska and also that of Japan. They learn where Anchorage, Alaska is on a map in relation to Japan’s location. Additionally, she teaches her second graders about the “communities” of Chitose, Japan, Anchorage’s Sister City. They learn about things to see and do in these communities that reach across the Pacific Ocean. Her students complete projects to compare the cities of Chitose and Anchorage, writing and illustrating their own books. Her students are introduced to the Chitose School Exchange Program via Skype lessons with second grade Chitose classrooms. This activity helps prepare students for the fifth and sixth grades when they will host visiting students from Chitose. On alternating years Sand Lake fifth and sixth graders travel to Chitose and stay with Japanese families.
Sachiko accompanied four different student trips to Chitose School in Hokkaido and three inbound Chitose School exchanges. Over the years many of the Japanese immersion students and their families relate stories and fond memories of their host families. They reunite after college or during a military assignment. These are lifetime relationships!
As a Japanese language teacher Sachiko believes that students need to have the opportunity to present their Japanese skills and knowledge for an audience. Each year her second graders participate in the annual statewide Alaska State Japanese Speech Contest that is organized by the Alaska Japanese Teacher Association. Sachiko is an active member of this organization and served as the director from 1996-1999.
In 2008 Sand Lake Elementary was awarded the Governor’s North Star Award for International Excellence in recognition of the outcomes of the Japanese Immersion Program. Sachiko Kono is honored to be one of many Japanese educators, committed and forever dedicated to students, drumming the beat, changing the world, one friendship at time.
Music – “Ripples” Kevin MacLeod (incompetch.com)
Ms. Kathleen Krauth
The American School in Japan, Tokyo
Ms. Kathleen Krauth is a high school history teacher at The American School in Japan (ASIJ), located in Tokyo, where she has taught since 2000. At ASIJ she teaches a variety of classes including a senior honors seminar on Japanese history, which focuses on the relationship between the state and the individual in modern Japanese history through units on Okinawa, Yasukuni Shrine, Hiroshima and now Fukushima.
Kathleen is co-author of the curriculum publication, Japan 1945-1989: recreating a Modern Nation, published by the Social Science Education Consortium in 1995, and has written curriculum for several modules on Japan of MIT’s Visualizing Cultures project.
Prior to moving to Tokyo to teach at ASIJ, Kathy was a member of the staff of Teaching East Asia at the University of Colorado and has been a contributor to several of summer institutes, both as staff member and consultant. She holds a master’s in Japanese History. This year Kathy coordinated a two-week long program commemorating 3.11 including an exhibit.