Article By: Shin Yazawa
Photograph By: Shin Yazawa
Name: Deborah Kobayashi
Origin: United States Of America
Years taught: 2002-2018
Role at St. Mary’s: ESL Teacher and Elementary Substitute Teacher
Mrs. Kobayashi has been teaching here at St. Mary’s International School for 16 years. Before joining the faculty as a full-time ESL teacher, she taught as a substitute teacher for the fourth to the eighth grade. She was born and raised in The United States of America, and was inspired to become a teacher by her aunt, who taught for 42 years. She was surrounded by ‘language’ because her Dutch mother was literate in four languages—her mother tongue plus French, German, and English. “As you can tell from my name, Mrs. Kobayashi, I married a Japanese photographer and subsequently moved to Tokyo. I needed to learn the language and wanted my children to be bilingual, so I started to seriously explore language acquisition which led to my completing my MA (master’s degree) in EFL/ESL.” She chose to come to teach at St. Mary’s because when she was referred to SMIS as a substitute she enjoyed working in the ES school. When she was offered a full-time position it was a natural transition.
She is leaving St. Mary’s; however, she will remain in Tokyo to prepare for the Japanese Proficiency Test and do some writing. She’s leaving St. Mary’s because the school has a mandatory retirement policy. We asked Mrs. Kobayashi if she changed in any way as a result of her time in St. Mary’s, and she said:
Prior to SMIS my experience was in teaching in co-ed schools. I LOVE teaching boys! Also, teaching in an international school has significantly expanded my horizons. I feel I have truly become a global citizen. One of the most important aspects is that I have gained the ability to embrace new situations and a positive perspective on having to say ‘sayonara’.
Mrs. Kobayashi also spoke about leading the Green Club. It had originally started as a club called “Roots and’ Shoots” which later on developed into the “Green Club”. She is really passionate about it, so she really hopes Green Club will continue after she leaves since it represents the essence of student service. “Any organization is only as good as the people in it. Leave it better than you found it!”, says Mrs. Kobayashi who has lived up to her words and made the school greener, too.