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IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Sullivans School Hosts Educational Exchange
By Steve Parker 06-May-15
The Sullivans School on board Commander Fleet Activates Yokosuka (CFAY) in Yokosuka, Japan hosted a Special Education Professional Exchange on 26 February. The annual event has happened since 2006, and has afforded quite a unique opportunity to exchange information about special education programs for both American educators at the Sullivans School and local Japanese special education teachers and students. This opportunity was initiated by Mr. Hiroyasu Yamada, an equipment specialist at CFAY Ship Repair Facility (SRF). Mr. Yamada has been an active proponent of Japanese special education, as he himself is a parent of children with special needs. This yearly exchange opportunity is possible because of Mr. Yamada’s initiative to be the liaison between the special education department of the Sullivans School and local special educators. When it is the Sullivans teachers’ turn to visit the Japanese schools, he organizes the trip, takes leave, guides and translates for the teachers. The visitors spent the morning visiting classrooms and programs at the Sullivans School, observing firsthand the different models for special education instruction, including the inclusion model. Visitors were also shown other support activity programs that are part of the general education system, including English as a Second Language (ESL), Math Support Services (MSS), Language Support Services (LSS), the Foreign Language in Elementary Schools (FLES) program and general education classrooms. The participants spent their afternoon in a question and answer session with Sullivans administration and special educators. This year, Mr. Junichi Tamura, a professor at Teikyo University, brought his university students, along with other local special education teachers. Teikyo University is a prestigious private university headquartered in the Itabashi ward of Tokyo, Japan. Prof. Tamura expressed gratitude at the opportunity to observe the application of these programs without the expense of an overseas trip. Victoria Araki, Sullivans School Speech Language Pathologist, organized the event for the Sullivans. She stated, “We look forward to learning about the special education programs of our host country. “Some of our students transfer from Japanese schools and sometimes, if a family loses sponsorship, they must consider sending their children to Japanese schools and receiving special education services that are quite different from our school system. We also need to be familiar with the customs of the local community in order to embrace diversity in our school.” DoDEA Pacific provides a comprehensive pre-K through 12 education to the children of military and eligible civilian personnel families serving throughout Asia. The 50 schools in DoDEA Pacific are composed of more than 23,500 students and 3,400 professional educators and support staff. The Sullivans School is the largest school in DoDEA, with a student body of approximately 1,200 in Grades K-5.
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