by Amanda Rollins, Japanese Language Program Coordinator
Miami Junior/Senior High School in a rural part of Arizona educates fewer than 600 students from grades 7 to 12. Last year, some students discovered that their new English teacher Dan Hill is also licensed to teach Japanese. They asked him to teach it. “Obviously,” Dan Hill stated in an email, “school schedules are not determined by teachers, so I told them I would be happy to teach it if they could convince the principal to put it on the schedule.”
So they did.
The would-be Japanese language students got over a hundred signatures from fellow students and petitioned the principal and the school board to start a Japanese club. When the club proved to be popular, the principal put the class in the schedule. Now it has a waiting list.
Inspired by his students’ obvious passion (and by his own passion for “all things Japanese”), Hill-sensei decided to create a Japanese classroom. The principal set aside a room for the project and helped clean, paint, and prepare the room. He went to local companies which do international business with Japan and other countries, raised over $5,000, and set up the room with tatami mats and kotatsu tables.
Donations from local citizens are helping Hill-sensei start a spring break trip to Japan this month, hopefully to become a tradition. We at the Japan Foundation, Los Angeles wish him luck and hope to find a way to support this flourishing new program!