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McKinley High School teacher Alan Sekiguchi wins the U.S.-Japan Foundation's Elgin Heinz Award | Schools

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McKinley High School teacher Alan Sekiguchi wins the U.S.-Japan Foundation's Elgin Heinz Award
Schools
McKinley High School teacher Alan Sekiguchi wins the U.S.-Japan Foundation's Elgin Heinz Award

Information courtesy: United States-Japan Foundation

New York, NY – Mr. William Matsuzaki, Japanese Language Teacher at Saint Paul’s School for Boys in Brooklandville, Maryland, and Mr. Alan Sekiguchi, Digital Media, STEMworks – basic/advanced Technical Education Teacher at McKinley High School and Chief Instructor, Hawaii Shotokan Karate in Honolulu, Hawaii, are the 2012 recipients of the United States-Japan Foundation’s Elgin Heinz Outstanding Teacher Awards.

The Elgin Heinz Outstanding Teacher Award recognizes exceptional teachers who further mutual understanding between Americans and Japanese.  The award is presented annually to two pre-college teachers in two categories, Humanities and Japanese Language, and consists of a certificate of recognition, a $2,500 monetary award, and $5,000 in project funds. 

The Award is named in honor of Mr. Elgin Heinz, a pioneer in educating American pre-collegiate students about Asia and in stressing the importance of global education.  Born in China in 1913, he spent forty years teaching in San Francisco’s public schools.  Mr. Heinz served as Education Director for the Japan Society in 1960, and is nationally known for his many curriculum guides on Asia. 

An independent national selection committee, consisting of leaders in the fields of Japanese language and cultural education in the United States, selected Mr. Matsuzaki and Mr. Sekiguchi based on their outstanding long-term commitment to teaching about Japan and their national leadership in this area.

Biographical Details regarding the Awardees:

Mr. William Matsuzaki was raised speaking Japanese at home, but attended local schools in the Los Angeles area.  Frequently visiting families in Japan at a young age, he always had an interest in Japanese language and culture.  Not having a good command of the language growing up, Mr. Matsuzaki decided to start studying Japanese at Carleton College. Mr. Matsuzaki majored in Japanese because of the excitement that the professors exuded and the love of the language and culture he developed.

During college, he taught at a summer program called Summerbridge in Manchester, NH for three summers that changed his life.  His love for teaching began.   Since 1999, Mr. Matsuzaki has been a Japanese teacher at St. Paul’s School for Boys in Brooklandville, Maryland where he has taught fifth through eighth grade Japanese, as well as Japanese I and VII in the high school.  Additionally, he serves as the modern language chair for the elementary and middle schools.   

Mr. Matsuzaki firmly believes in planning rigorous and exciting classes to spark the interests of the students.  Students participate in various activities that target the four essential skills, immerse themselves in the culture, and engage in proficiency-based activities.  Additionally, differentiated instruction is used to meet the needs of various learners.  As a former technology coordinator, he also incorporates technology in his classes to enhance student learning.  He also creates exciting opportunities for the students by inviting various visitors from Japan into his classroom, and most recently helped to coordinate the visit from the Japanese Ambassador to his school.  His high school students will be participating in the Japan Bowl this year as well.    

The teacher-coach model is an important aspect of his teaching philosophy.  He coaches middle and upper school cross country, as well as middle school tennis.  This allows him to interact with his students in other venues and create more opportunities for him to connect with them.  He has also been the editor-in-chief for The Japan Times that is published annually at his school to promote the Japanese program.  Additionally, he has organized the Japan Fair and International Day at his school.

A major part of his job is being the Japanese exchange program officer.  For the past seven years, he has been leading the three-week exchange trip to Japan with Gakushuin Senior High School.  He also created the four-month study abroad program to Gakushuin to give students a deeper experience with the language and culture.  He also coordinates the lives of the two Gakushuin students who become part of the St. Paul’s community every year.  He finds host families, coordinates their academics, and invites them to his house on weekends.  Additionally, he has hosted Japanese students for a total of three years and has become the surrogate father to them by taking them to their soccer games, cooking their meals, proof-reading their essays, and mentoring them on the American educational system.  He has in fact taken them on college road trips from Baltimore to places like Chicago, Boston, New York, and Cleveland.  To him, supporting them in all aspects of their lives is an important gesture in showing them that he cares about them, especially when they are literally thousands of miles away from home.

Through his relationship with Gakushuin, he has been the Visiting Distinguished Lecturer in the summer of 2006, was an English Summer Seminar Instructor at Gakushuin Women’s College, and was a presenter at the Symposium for Global Education at Gakushuin University in August of 2008.  He has also presented at various locations on Japanese language teaching.  In 2007, he presented Getting the Most out of Your Language Lab in Maryland.  Additionally, in 2008, he presented Running a Successful Exchange Program, Marketing Boutique Languages, and Ideas on Teaching Foreign Languages.  In 2008, he and his colleague, Ms. Kimura, presented Building and Sustaining a Strong Language Program at ACTFL. 

Outside of school, from 2002 through 2005, he served on the board for NCJLT where he was the treasurer.  Furthermore, in 2009, he led a group of 23 students and parents on a ten-day baseball tour, playing seven games in six cities.  He conducted the tours and also did the translations.

Lastly, Mr. Matsuzaki firmly believes in educating himself to provide the best education for his students.  In 2002, he earned a MSEd in Technology Education and in 2004, he earned a graduate certificate in Administration and Supervision from The Johns Hopkins University.  In 2012, he will be graduating with a Doctor of Education in Teacher Development and Leadership from Hopkins. 

The Elgin Heinz Award will enable him to purchase iPod Touches, as well as an iPad to create opportunities for his students to practice their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.

Mr. Alan Sekiguchi is a teacher in Hawaii serving in dual roles.  By day he is a classroom teacher at William McKinley High School; by night he is a karate instructor at Hawaii Shotokan Karate.  He is passionate about both roles with the singular goal of empowering his students to fulfill their potential.

Mr. Sekiguchi was preparing himself for both roles simultaneously while he was a student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  During his freshman year he enrolled in a karate class, and from that magical moment, he knew he had to learn as much as he could about this captivating martial art.

By the time he began his career as a mathematics teacher in 1972, he was already making a name for himself in the karate circles of Hawaii, having won numerous local and national tournaments.  In 1983 he decided it was time to establish his own karate school, thus founding Hawaii Shotokan Karate.

As chief instructor of Hawaii Shotokan Karate, Mr. Sekiguchi made a conscious decision to teach not only the physical art of the sport, but the essence and spirit of the Japanese culture from which it originated as well.  That is, he would use karate as a means to exemplify and teach the Dojo Kun (“training hall rules”), which are the tenets of Shotokan Karate, to all of his students.

            Seek perfection of character
            Be faithful
            Endeavor
            Respect others
            Refrain from violent behavior

It is Mr. Sekiguchi’s heartfelt belief that the values imbued in the Dojo Kun have helped his students embrace an attitude of harmony and humility, transcending differences of culture, ethnicity, religion, and social status.

Aside from the daily classes in the dojo, Mr. Sekiguchi’s karate students have also had opportunities to support public service events in the community, participate in local and national karate tournaments, and attend/host seminars with visiting martial arts instructors.  Mr. Sekiguchi was presented with a commendation from the Hawaii State Senate for his efforts in promoting karate to the Hawaii community.  He was also featured on a television program called Sports People Hawaii, which features outstanding individuals in the local sports community.

In 2007 Mr. Sekiguchi took a group of his instructors to Japan to observe the annual All-Japan Karate Championship in Tokyo, attend a sumo tournament in Osaka and the Gion festival in Kyoto.  Another trip was planned for March 2011, but was canceled due to the devastating earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster.  With the trip thus canceled, Mr. Sekiguchi used the time to rally his students in a campaign to collect donations for the American Red Cross Japan Relief Fund.  By the end of a few weeks, $6500 had been raised and donated.

On the anniversary of the disaster this year, Mr. Sekiguchi again set up a collection drive among his karate students.  This time $5000 was raised and donated to the Japan-America Society of Hawaii, an organization which sponsors the “Rainbow for Japan Kids” program.  This program brings children who were directly affected by the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster to Hawaii for rest, recuperation, and physical/psychological relief.

Mr. Sekiguchi has devoted his life to being a teacher.  His career has taken him on a journey down two paths: that of classroom teacher and karate instructor.  He has traveled these paths with passion and enthusiasm, inspiring his students to realize their full potential.The United States-Japan Foundation (USJF) is an independent private foundation dedicated to strengthening cooperation and understanding between the United States and Japan.  It is governed by a board of prominent Japanese and American private citizens and is the only private American grant-making foundation dedicated to the mutual interests of the American and Japanese people.  More information can be found on the Foundation’s web site at www.us-jf.org.

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