Local public school teachers in the WNC area are part of a select group of educators that will begin working with eleven visiting Japanese teachers from March 24 through April 2.
As part of an educational exchange program involving Western Carolina University, two other University of North Carolina institutions and three Japanese universities, the Japanese teachers will teach, work with and learn from these local educators. This will also provide a unique education experience for the students who come into contact with this program.
Now in the second consecutive year, WCU is participating in the Global Partnerships Schools consortium, along with East Carolina University and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. The program seeks to promote collaborative exchange, program development and research across several levels of schooling and teacher education between Japan and North Carolina. Several schools in the counties of Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, and on the Qualla Boundary will provide the sites for the visiting Japanese teachers.
The exchange incorporates three national universities located in Japan (Hiroshima University, Osaka University of Education, and Naruto University of Education) and are part of the teacher education programs in North Carolina due to a three-year grant from the United States-Japan Foundation.
The grant provides funding to cover the costs of travel, lodging, and meals for seven WNC teachers to visit Japanese schools in June as well as to cover expenses to bring Japanese teachers to the North Carolina schools in the following March.
“North Carolina has a long history of economic and educational ties to Japan,” said Lois Petrovich-Mwaniki, director of International Programs and Services at WCU.
The program got its start through work between the North Carolina governor’s office and the Japanese Consulate in Atlanta, Ga. The majority of the support in the beginning came from the governor’s office and East Carolina University.
Many area schools will get the opportunity to receive visits from the Japanese teachers. Whether students learn songs, language, or activities from the Japanese culture, they will be participating in an experience that they will benefit from intellectually and socially.
This year’s United States/Western North Carolina host teachers include Anne Loughlin (Cullowhee Valley School), Barbara Wilkes (Scott’s Creek Elementary), Beverly Reavis and Tammy Bates (Cherokee and Tuscola High School), and Summer Lewis (Clyde and Jonathon Valley Elementary).
Other host teachers are Mary Lynn MacGillivary (Cowee Elementary), Kristy Kowalske and Laura Norris (Rugby Middle School), and Lisa Green (Flat Rock Middle School).
The Japanese guest teachers include a group of educators focused in many areas of communication, language, and technology. The group includes Ms. Keiko Fujimoto (first grade-language/communication skills), Ms. Mieko Yamada (fifth grade/English as a foreign language), Ms. Miori Ureta (sixth grade/physical education and instructional technology), Ms. Kaori Shiota (high school English), Mr. Kiminori Kawakami (elementary arithmetic), and Mr. Satoshi Kagawa (science and computer education).
The rest of the members of the Japanese group will be Ms. Etsuko Takagi (English as a foreign language), Mr. Yoshio Mori (middle school science), Professor Kensuke Chikamori, assistant coordinator (science education, Naruto University), Professor Hiroaki Sera, coordinator (Japanese language education, Naruto University), and Professor Yumiko Ono (Naruto University).
In honor of their visit, a reception was held on Sunday, March 25, at Lake Junaluska Assembly.
If you would like to know more about the teachers’ work here in the area during their stay, you can contact Petrovich-Mwaniki at (828) 227-3440.