Although I am a native of Arizona, we moved to Southern California, where, at the age of 3, I became fascinated with scissors and spent hours cutting freehand paper kings, queens and castles. An affinity for the arts and determination helped me to realize my dream of attending UCLA where I received my Bachelors of Arts in Graphic Design. During my senior year, I was selected as an Education Abroad Participant to the ICU campus in Tokyo, Japan. Here, I was granted permission to conduct independent research in children's theater and puppetry under the mentorships of Melvin Helstein (UCLA Department of Theater Arts), Taiji Kawajiri (PUK Puppet Theater) and the Tokyo Doll Academy.
Upon my return to UCLA, while studying children's theater under Melvin Helstein, I assisted in designing and manipulating Sicilian rod marionettes for the ten day production of "Aucassin et Nicolette" at Mac Gowan Hall. The force of the East being strong, I was pulled magnetically back to Japan where I continued research in modern puppet theater and traditional Awaji Puppets under Taiji Kawajiri. During this time, I was also fortunate in securing a teaching position at the newly constructed ASIJ (American School in Japan) Nursery-Kindergarten.
Returning to live in San Francisco, I received my California Standard Teaching Credential, and resumed my teaching career as Kindergarten teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District's Japanese Bilingual/Bicultural Program (JBBP). While teaching, I received a government grant to the University of San Francisco and graduated with a Masters of Education in Cross Cultural Education and a Bilingual Specialist Credential. I remained a JBBP Kindergarten teacher and developed ESL, JSL Pre and Post Tests for Grades K-6 until 1980.
1980 found me back in Tokyo teaching Kindergarten at the International School of the Sacred Heart. However, frustrated with the inadequacies of ESL instruction within the Japanese public school system, together with my bilingual pioneer spirit I approached major television networks and publishers proposing bilingual children's television programs and integrated subject action-oriented learning materials. Unfortunately at that time, most educators, producers and publishers were unfamiliar with bilingual and action-oriented concepts and their potentials.
Britannica, Japan, however, recognized the need for a new ESL approach and agreed to publish 4 books, 4 videos, 4 cassettes and a teacher's manual named "I Can Series". Bilingual and action-oriented in approach, the program was developed around traditional Japanese children's songs, Doyo, that I translated into English and tested with children and teachers. This method and package would later be the springboard for bilingual children's television, however, as its methods were "ahead of its time", salespersons who had been schooled on "old style" ESL methods unfortunately found difficulty in door to door sales.
In 1985, during an exhibit at Nihonbashi's Takashimaya Department Store that featured free-hand paper cut illustrations from my "I Can Series" of Japanese Doyo, a well known Mainichi Newspaper journalist approached me and requested my presence to advise on international programs for children in a new Tokyo facility. At the age of three I had cut out castles, and now, ironically, was being offered a position to create an international department for the National Children's Castle by the President and founder, Yoshimi Takeuchi. This national center, a foundation under the auspices of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, was the first of its kind in the world. It housed two theaters, a pool and gym, child care department, art, computer, play hall, audio visual and music areas, conference rooms, hotel, gallery, restaurant and provided over 100 different classes for children and adults. Later, as International Department Manager, I became the first foreign female appointed the position of Department Manager, Bucho, in a government foundation.
During my 15 years at the Castle, I served as liaison for the international community, created the first bilingual family theater productions in its Aoyama Round Theater, developed and taught creative bilingual classes for children and parents with children. I coordinated ARTSCAPE, an artistic venue for 500 students from international schools, lectured nationwide and in Korea, and was encouraged to develop programs and materials in education and entertainment fields.
To insure effective language instruction programs, my bilingual teaching experience, belief in the importance of integrated subjects, action based curriculums, free-hand scissors cutting techniques have played significant roles. In addition, my artistic, dramatic and songwriting skills and my love of children have laid foundations for a wide range of accomplishments and contributions as follows:
Authored the Internet Action English Program selected by the Ministry of Science and Education in 2002 to be used in nationwide elementary schools during integrated instruction periods.
Produced over 125 bilingual family theater productions
Delivered over 600 lectures, workshops, seminars in Japan and Korea
Created two television programs for children and families
Developed a SciZ WhiZ Scissors Education System that enhances fine motor skills, encourages creativity and supports language acquisition
Created 8 original bilingual CD's for children
Author and illustrator of 8 books
Artistic Advisor for the overall renewal of Takashimaya's Children's Floor
Served as Education Advisor on government boards and panels
Wrote the first weekly bilingual full page elementary newspaper column distributed nationwide
Designed the first bilingual Action Apron, manual, CD
Introduced Mrs. Santa to nationwide families and organizations
Translated over 150 Japanese children's songs, Doyo, into English
As I constantly develop new media, products, educational programs and materials, write lyrics, do voiceovers, lecture, give teacher training workshops (in Japanese and international schools), illustrate, write articles for various journals and envision unique television programs and books for young children, I am always open to new ideas and projects. Please feel free to contact me!