Roswell High School Japanese Language teacher Seiko Onuki has been named the 2020 Japanese Teacher of the Year for K-12 by the Georgia Association of Teachers of Japanese.
Roswell High School is one of three high schools in Fulton County Schools that offers coursework in the language.
“We’re so proud to have Ms. Onuki on staff at Roswell High School,” Principal Dr. Robert Shaw said. “She is so dedicated to her students and sharing Japanese language and culture with them. The Japanese language program has been strengthened since her arrival, and it adds to the offerings of our entire World Languages department.”
Onuki has taught Japanese at Roswell High School since 2016, and she established a pre-college chapter of Japanese National Honor Society in 2017. Prior to Roswell High School she taught Japanese at Elkins Pointe Middle School, Northwestern Middle School and Kennesaw State University. Onuki has taught all levels of Japanese language and has a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) from Kennesaw State University.
“It is always my pleasure to see my students’ growth as a lifelong learner of the language and culture," Onuki said. "Sometimes it is a life changing experience for my students, just like me as an exchange student at a high school in Missouri 20 years ago. I hope my students will have opportunities to visit Japan and experience the different language and culture. I would love to encourage and support my students to explore the world.”
Japanese National Honor Society students participate in hosting an exchange student from Japan, tutoring middle school students, offering a program orientation for rising ninth graders, Japan-related cultural/academic activities in the community such as Japanese-English conversation table and volunteering at the annual Japan Fest, among other activities. Onuki organizes field trips and cultural activities and events in the community such as Language Fusion Club, pen pals projects, story writing contests, tea ceremony, mochi-pounding, sushi-rolling and origami workshops and other activities.
“In 2019, a team from Roswell High School won first place at the Academic Challenge and they were invited to an education trip to Japan in November 2019,” Onuki said.
She was the president of the Georgia Association of Teachers of Japanese from 2014 to 19, during which time she organized annual events such as Nengajo Contest, Japanese Academic Challenge, and speech and greeting card contests.
“The importance of Japanese language and an interest in Japanese language and culture have increased exponentially over the last few years,” Onuki said.
Onuki says there are many benefits to Japanese language skills such as new learning and cognitive skills, increasing self-confidence and pride, respect and admiration of other cultures, a basis for understanding the Chinese language since the two languages share many characters and it helps students look at their own native language and culture more critically.
In addition, students may take an Advanced Placement exam in Japanese language by special request to the College Board to earn college credit and move ahead in their Japanese studies. Mastery of the Japanese language also increases career opportunities. Georgia is home to a number of Japanese-owned companies.
Her award is supported by Georgia Department of Education and the Japan-America Society of Georgia.