By Hannah Spurgeon
Since the founding of the Southern Indiana Japanese School, the school has won its tenth consecutive writing award.
“The contest is held annually by the Japan Overseas Education Services,” Keietsu Nishimura, principal of the Southern Indiana Japanese School said.
This year 219 Japanese schools abroad participated in the contest. Only 20 schools received awards.
“There were 40,311 writing works such as poems and compositions submitted,” Nishimura said. “Only 500 were awarded including nine from our own school.”
There are currently 53 native Japanese students from kindergarten to twelfth grade attending the school.
“My students must be able to keep pace with students studying in Japan,” Nishimura said. “So we teach our students the same curriculum taught in Japan.”
Nishimura said he does this to give his students a school life similar to one in Japan.
“We have on average 50 students each year, but we never have the same students for more than two to three years at a time,” he said.
Nishimura said this is because these students are from families working for companies such as Toyota and after their assignments are finished, they will return to Japan.
“While these families are here for a few years due to business, they don’t want their students to have trouble with schooling when they return to Japan,” he said.
Nishimura is a native of Japan and has served as principal of the school since its founding.
“I enjoy being principal because I can run the school in the way that will benefit the students the most,” he said. “The responsibility is large though, because I must give a high quality of education for my students.”
Nishimura also teaches his students Japanese, mathematics and health using the same textbooks used in schools in Japan.
“I am immensely proud of my students,” Nishimura said. “I believe we will be able to win the competition again next year.”
In 1997 the Southern Indiana Japanese School was founded by the university and the State Economy Development agency
“The State Economy Development Agency for Indiana was working hard to get overseas companies like Toyota to stay in Southern Indiana,” Linda Cleek, Executive of Lifelong Learning, said.
She said the agency decided that the Japanese School would be founded in southern Indiana, and that a state school like the university would finance it.
“We decided to visit the Japanese School associated with the University of Kentucky before we financed our own school,” Cleek said.
Including Nishimura there are 11 instructors who teach students at the Southern Indiana Japanese School.
“They aren’t actually teachers however,” Cleek said. “Many of them are actually undergraduate students attending our university.”
Cleek said they teach as a part of a locally run program similar to the Allex Foundation, which allows the students to be part-time employees for the university.
“These students have to have the required background and requirements before they are selected to teach,” she said.
One of the requirements is being fluent in the Japanese language because all teaching at the Southern Indiana Japanese School is done in Japanese Cleek said.
“It’s a great program and one that really lets students find experience when working towards their majors,” she said.