PSAT for 3-15-11: Reach out to Japanese educators

Scarf depicting Mt FujiI first met Dr. Yoshimi Tsuboi in 1997 when he came to Chicago from Japan to study local school councils. He gave gifts of scarves to those of us he met during his visit, and included this note:

“We Japanese, especially farmers and workers, use this handkerchief for wiping sweat…Mt. Fuji represents the supreme pleasure. Two hawk feathers means to bring something. Three eggplants represent common people. Then the combination of the picture means that working brings the sweetest joy of life to the people. I hope your daily hard work will bring happiness not only in your life but also to all children’s lives in the Chicago Public Schools.”

Since then I’ve had the pleasure of spending more time with Yoshi and later getting to know a student of his, Takeshi Shinohara. Takeshi has recently completed his doctorate and will begin teaching at a university next month. He was just here in Chicago doing some follow-up research, and flew home the day of the earthquake. Fortunately, he reports that he and Dr. Tsuboi and their families are all OK.

Takeshi is especially interested in how teachers collaborate with each other and the LSC on school improvement planning. I would encourage anyone who would like to share their experiences with Takeshi or send him a message of encouragement to contact him via his Facebook page.

There are a lot of ways to send money to Japan right now. I happen to like Wider Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ. The UCC’s public school advocacy efforts are tremendous, and their mission work is similarly thoughtful, trustworthy, and well-grounded in the local communities.

Let’s help our friends in Japan continue to have the sweetest joy of life – working hard for the children.

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.