Yukiko Kawasaki is having a hectic afternoon when Savvy Tokyo visits her workplace, Tokyo West International School (TWIS), in the middle of December, with preparations for holiday and end-of-term events in full swing.
As we sit down to begin the interview, a little girl knocks and then pops her head round Yukiko’s office door. “Excuse me, but where are the candy canes?” Yukiko replies with a reassuring smile and, satisfied, the student skips off.
Since taking on her present role in June of last year as the admissions director and head of the Japanese department, Yukiko has been working to expand programs in order to better serve a very diverse student body.
The school follows the Japanese academic calendar and Yukiko wasn’t fazed about jumping into her new job in the middle of the first term. This dynamic educator has worked with a variety of students and schools in her career, which has taken her from Japan to the USA and back again.
“I’d heard from TWIS that they wanted to expand their bilingual program and I came on board in a brand-new capacity. I love building things up and I have a soft spot for smaller schools, so it has worked out well,” Yukiko explains.
Her experience is a perfect match for the school. The 200 students at the K to 9 school come from varied backgrounds, ranging from Japanese families who don’t use English at home, to bicultural children, returnees and those who commute from a nearby military base. It is challenging to serve the needs of such a diverse group, but Yukiko thrives on challenges and has always actively pursued opportunities where she can make a difference and have a lot of input.
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