Together with our student body and alumni, UWC ISAK Japan is ONE diverse and united community.
We are proud to have a team of experienced and dedicated educators from around the world as our faculty at UWC ISAK Japan.
In addition to our world-class faculty, our team of multilingual, talented and internationally-savvy staff cover a wide variety of roles and responsibilities at the school. Many of our staff have been with our school since long before its opening, and feel a strong personal stake in the school’s success.
Adam AtkinAdam is a math teacher from Brisbane, Australia. He has been teaching for most of the last 5 years after completing a degree in mechanical engineering and a year of teacher training. In 2017, he started his international career when he moved to UWC Mostar, and is now very excited to experience life in another UWC school. In his spare time he likes to play football and table tennis, write/play/listen to music, spend time with dogs, stargaze, hike, swim and snowboard.
Director of Admissions
Ms. Hernandez brings over 18 years of experience in International Education including teaching, management, student services, and international admissions, and has lived in Colombia, the USA, Germany, England, Switzerland, Spain, and Canada. In her previous roles she has had the opportunity to travel around the world sharing with students and their families her point of view regarding the importance of becoming citizens of the world by contributing to cross-cultural awareness and understanding. Her hard work and dedication has not gone unnoticed at an international level when in 2017 the Council of International Schools (CIS) selected her as the recipient of the Future Leader Award. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Events Management, a Masters degree in Tourism Management, and another Masters degree in International Marketing & Market Research. Ms. Hernandez strongly believes in the UWC movement and is looking forward to bringing in the next generation of leaders to UWC ISAK Japan campus.
Office of Facilities
Alvaro Lopes Jr.
Andrew is an experienced Australian IB Economics teacher. He has taught in 4 different states in Australia and been on one overseas posting (Florida, USA). He is currently doing my Masters (IB focus) online from Perth with lots of IB teachers from around the world in his interactive tutorials.
Ms. Bolger started teaching Japanese language and culture as a fellow teacher at a public school in Ontario, Canada. After graduating from university, she taught Japanese at University of Durham, U.K. for 6 years. Also interested in Computer Science, she then worked in the software industry in the U.K. and Japan. Ms Bolger earned a B.A. in Japanese Language and Culture from the University of Tsukuba as well as a Postgraduate Diploma in Computer Science from the University of Essex.
Public Relations & Engagement
Office of Admissions
Aya studied abroad in Oregon as a Rotary exchange student and later did a college internship program in Bellevue College in Washington, USA, where she gained a deep interest in world cultures and diversity. Prior to joining UWC ISAK Japan, she worked in education for 9 years supporting exchange students at several universities in Japan. Using these experiences, she is excited to support students for their big steps to become catalysts for positive change.
History, ToK, Humanities, G12 Coordinator
With twenty years of experience teaching the IB Programme in Curacao and Atlanta, Georgia (US) and thirty years of teaching experience in total, Mrs. Hasham brings considerable expertise and knowledge to ISAK. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at Vanderbilt University and a Master’s degree from Syracuse University. She most recently served as CAS Coordinator at Atlanta International School and has broad experience in international education, with her major focus on high school history courses. In 2011, Mrs. Hasham received a Teacher of the Year Award from ECIS, a global organization that promotes best practices in international education.
Student Programs Director, Music, Leading With Others
Mr. McGibbon has been teaching internationally for the past twelve years. He believes that quality holistic education is a big part of creating a more peaceful society. His passion for education stems from a 4 year experience studying corporate social responsibility as part of a MBA external study program in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Because of this experience he developed an entirely new perspective and he redirected his focus and energy into education as a force for change. He has since taught in Shanghai, China and most recently he was the head of Arts and Design at the United Nations International school in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Mr. Kuepers was born and raised in the Netherlands. After finishing his business degree, he first worked in the private sector in Europe and Central America. In search of a new adventure, he spent the next 10 years implementing economic and private sector development projects for the UN in Colombia and an iNGO in Ethiopia. After obtaining his Master’s degree in the UK he led industrialization projects for the Colombian Government. In the last 7 years he has lived in Toronto, Canada where he was actively involved in volunteer and community projects, co-started a successful company focused on the use of drones, and worked for the University of Toronto as a Business Development Officer. Recently Mr. Kuepers has been working towards his College Counseling Degree at UCLA. He is an aviation enthusiast and holds his commercial pilot’s license. He is married and the proud father of a son.
Ms. Buitrago attended university in Bogota, Colombia, where she obtained her degree in physics. She started teaching mathematics within the IB Diploma Programme in 2009 at the International School of Bogota, where she worked for four years before moving to Changchun, China in 2013. There she worked at Changchun American International School for two years before joining the UWC ISAK Japan community.
Biology, Science Dept Coordinator
Prior to joining the faculty at UWC ISAK Japan, Ms. Mimuro taught science at UWC Maastricht. She brings deep IB experience to UWC ISAK, having previously served as a biology examiner and moderator for the IBDP. She has also served as principal examiner for Salters Nuffield Advanced Biology (A Level) for a leading exam board in the UK. Ms. Mimuro is passionate about Aikido and enjoys participating in the UWC ISAK Japan martial arts activity.
Japanese, G10 Coordinator
Mr. Masui was born and raised in Japan. After attending college, he moved to the United States and went on to earn his Master’s Degree in Japanese with an emphasis in language teaching from San Francisco State University. Mr. Masui taught Japanese language and culture at a secondary school (grades 6 through 12) in the San Francisco Area for thirteen years. He enjoys helping students develop a genuine interest and motivation for learning languages. He believes that learning languages is the key to becoming a citizen of the world and hopes to support students in becoming respectful and responsible global citizens. After living in the U.S. for 18 years, Mr. Masui and his dog, J.J., are very excited to return to Japan and to be a part of such an innovative school in a beautiful environment.
Director of Communication and Marketing
After spending nearly a decade in Tokyo managing global communications programs for some of the world’s highest profile businesses, Dean Kirkness moved to Karuizawa with his family to put down roots in the idyllic Japanese countryside. He became interested in working with UWC ISAK Japan after learning about the school’s vision and grasping its potential to be a beacon in education to Japan and the world. Dean is motivated by helping the school and its students discovery their own stories and the means with which to tell them. In his spare time, Dean dabbles in coffee roasting, sake imbibing, and Japanese woodworking, though not necessarily in that order.
Director of Community Wellbeing
Ms. Oswald came to Japan as an exchange student in her junior year at Stanford University, enjoying the experience so much that she returned after graduation and has remained here for over 20 years! Ms. Oswald worked in Tokyo as a copywriter for a few years, eventually leaving to become a freelance translator. After meeting Ms. Kobayashi while she was interviewing Stanford alumni in Japan about their views on international schools, Ms. Oswald began working for the school in 2012. Now involved in all aspects of the admissions process, Ms. Oswald considers this the best job she has ever had, citing the everyday dynamic pace and the amazing people she works with- staff, faculty and students alike!
Ms. Wong received her BA in English Language and Literature from King’s College London and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (International) and Master’s in World Englishes at the University of Nottingham. Ms. Wong is excited about joining the ISAK because instead of learning about one culture, she will be able to experience the world! Outside of work, she enjoys yoga and meditative practices which help her stay grounded and see the world from a broader perspective. Ms. Wong believes in the UWC movement and its ability to transform both students and faculty. She is excited to face challenges with like-minded colleagues in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
I come from France but I grew up in New Caledonia, a French-speaking island located in the Pacific Ocean. I have worked in several IB schools around the world (Australia, UAE, Netherlands), most recently in Tanzania at UWC East Africa as the Outdoor Pursuits coordinator and MYP coordinator. I love traveling and discovering new places, especially the outdoors! My favorite outdoor activities are mountaineering, rock-climbing, mountain-biking, and surfing and I’m excited to be able to continue with those in Japan.
Spanish, World Language Department Chair
Since leaving her picturesque hometown of Málaga, Spain, Mrs. González has worked in the UK, Germany and Japan teaching Spanish to middle school, high school and university students with diverse international backgrounds. She has extensive experience in curriculum design and planning, having implemented new Spanish courses at her last two schools. Mrs. González holds a Law Degree from the University of Málaga; a Master’s Degree in Teaching Spanish as a Second Language from UNED University in Madrid; and a PGCE in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Málaga. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling and learning about other cultures, as well as designing jewelry when she finds the time.
Deputy Head of Operations, Manager of Facilities
Ms. Kobayashi, a Karuizawa native, has lived and worked all over the world, including Malaysia, Thailand, the US, Mauritius, the Bahamas, Morocco, New Caledonia, the Maldives, France and Egypt. She began working at UWC ISAK in 2014 and wishes she could have attended such a school when she was a student! Ms. Kobayashi is fluent in French, Japanese and English and in her spare time enjoys playing tennis.
Biology, Leading With Self, Leadership & Professional Development Coordinator
Ms. Tsurumi has devoted her career to education, inspired by the potential of education to empower youth to make positive changes in society. Ms. Tsurumi received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Education at Macalester College, and earned a Master of Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education in International Education Policy. She has taught IB Biology and high school/middle school science at the American School of Yaounde in Cameroon and at the Shanghai Community International School in China.
Global Politics, ToK, Humanities Dept Coordinator
Mr. Earwood attended university in the United States and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education; he is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in International Relations and Affairs. Prior to joining UWC ISAK he taught in Jordan, Austria and the US. Mr. Earwood has extensive experience within the IP curriculum, having taught DP Global Politics and TOK as well as MYP Humanities. Fascinated by politics, he encourages his students to view political issues from various perspectives. In his free time, he enjoys biking, hiking, and spending time with his wife.
Manager of Recruitment, Office of Admissions
Ms.Chung is a Korean American originally from Hawaii. She attended Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota where she studied and fostered her passion towards education through theater and dance. Her background attracted her to the UWC ISAK community where people celebrate diversity through their own stories. She enjoys meeting with prospective students, listening to their unique stories, and working to create a diverse and positive student body.
Mr. Underwood has extensive experience in teaching English Literature and English as a Second Language. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales and a Master of Teaching from the University of Tasmania. Before coming to UWC ISAK Japan, he taught in rural Western Australia and Hiroshima International School. An enthusiastic writer, Mr. Underwood believes in the value of creativity as a means of self-expression and to make positive change in the world. When not in the classroom, Mr. Underwood enjoys cycling, hiking, and spending time with his three daughters.
Mathematics, ToK Dept Coordinator, Curriculum Coordinator
Ms. Paddock holds a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Chichester and a Master’s in Multicultural and International Education from Oslo Metropolitan University. She wanted to become part of the UWC ISAK community for the genuine appreciation of diversity and the commitment to leadership education for innovation and global sustainability. Her spare time is shared between sports such as cycling, running, and tennis, cooking and dining with friends, and an ever-growing reading list. When possible, she volunteers in the cleanup and rebuilding of communities in response to natural disasters.
Office of Facilities
Mr. Jeon was born and raised in Korea. As a young student, he became interested in Japanese language and culture and pursued this passion while studying at Hankuk University in Korea, and later at Waseda University. Mr. Jeon is proud to be a member of the staff at UWC ISAK Japan and his goal is to make sure that the campus is clean and safe for everyone who lives and works here.
Art, CAS Coordinator, Leadership Projects Coordinator
Mr. Hinton has taught in schools in Turkey, Italy, Brunei Darussalam, and the UK, where he was Head of Arts. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Art Education from Cambridge University and has been teaching in an international environment for nearly thirty years. He is a practicing artist, working in oils, watercolor and relief printing, as well as being a professional photographer. He loves the creative spirit the visual arts develops in students..
Social/Emotional Health Counselor
Mr. Kerr earned a university degree in broadcasting communications and a master’s degree in community counseling from Georgia State University. His profession has allowed him to serve in leadership in several U.S. state counseling organizations, as a counselor in a college setting, as a team lead in a community mental health setting, and as a counselor training supervisor. His passion is for helping individuals find their best selves. His interests include anything involving the great outdoors, curling up with a good book, and spending time with family.
English, Extended Essay Coordinator
Originally from the United States, Mr. Osorio came to UWC ISAK from UWC Changshu China fulfilling a lifelong dream of living and working in Japan. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in advertising from Brigham Young University and worked at a social media advertising agency before pursuing education. He earned his Master’s degree in curriculum development from the University of Cincinnati and taught English in the United States and Thailand before China. He loves learning, being outdoors, and spending time with family and is excited to be working with the future change makers of the world at UWC ISAK.
Office of Academic Affairs
After working for an Australian company for 10 years, Ms. Hirose moved to Karuizawa to raise her three children in the countryside. While bringing up her children, she worked part time as an English teacher and translator. In 2015, Ms. Hirose began doing some translation work for UWC ISAK and became inspired how the school supported motivated students with financial difficulties. She is very happy to join the talented team and is looking forward to seeing the students growing up to be leaders who will improve the world.
When she was in elementary school, Ms. Sato moved to the US with her family and spent two years in Colorado. From the experience of being immersed in a totally different culture, she was interested in working as a bridge between Japan and other countries. She went back to the US to attend a graduate school, and after receiving a master’s degree, she returned to Japan and worked for a private school in Tokyo as an International Programs Coordinator. She believes in the power of education, and she really enjoys working at UWC ISAK Japan with people from different countries and backgrounds.
Deputy Head of Operations, Manager of Academic Affairs
Ms. Otake attended international schools in Hong Kong and Taiwan and graduated from university in the UK before working as a project manager in international marketing and sales in Stockholm, Sweden, where she lived for over 11 years. She then relocated to Tokyo and worked in quality management before moving with her family to Karuizawa. Ms. Otake is excited to be a part of such a diverse team at ISAK. In her free time she enjoys traveling, organizing outdoor activities, home farming, visiting art museums and attending concerts.
Pastoral Director, ToK
Before coming to UWC ISAK, Mrs Earwood taught in Jordan and Austria. In addition to teaching, she brings extensive knowledge working within residential life and outdoor education. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sport and Adventure Recreation through Bedford University before going on to complete a Post Graduate Certificate in Education through Nottingham University. In Austria, she served as assistant boarding house mistress of a girls boarding house. At UWC ISAK, she plans to use her previous experience to enhance the health and wellbeing of students within residence.
Head of Operations
Ms. Ikeda worked in the Financial Industry for ten years in series of roles including IR & Corporate Communication, Executive Assistant to the CEO and Government Relations. As a diversity & inclusion specialist, she was responsible for creating a diverse workforce and a culture of inclusion. Working closely with the Japanese government, she positioned a company as diversity global leader focusing on the empowerment of women. She also served as a Vice Chair of Women in Business Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. Ms. Ikeda joined UWC ISAK Japan because she resonated with the school’s philosophy on diversity and she feels passionate about supporting student to become catalysts for positive change.
Environmental Systems & Societies
Dr. Heddle is a biologist with a passion for education, conservation and natural history. For the past decade, she has been teaching Environmental Science to students aged 7-22, in a variety of international settings, from the urban chaos of Bangkok to the shores of Gujarat in India and most recently at a seed saving centre in rural northern Thailand. At UWC ISAK she is committed to encouraging students (and teachers) to reconnect with nature, find solutions to our environmental problems and to take ownership for their learn
Originally from Spain, Mr. Melero gained valuable business experience in information technology, graphic design and advertising before finding his true calling as a teacher. He has since spent nine years teaching mathematics and computer science in the UK, Spain, Germany and Japan. Mr. Melero has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Málaga and a PGCE in mathematics from the University of Oxford. Inspired by his computer science background, he uses every opportunity to integrate technology and online resources into his mathematics lessons. When not teaching, he enjoys a wide range of outdoor activities, such as hiking, skiing, cycling, photography, fishing, and scuba diving.
After several years teaching health and physical education at elementary and middle schools in Tokyo, Ms. Ogawa became a scuba diving instructor, teaching scuba diving in Thailand, the Maldives and Canada. She returned to Japan after a period in Germany and became a licensed special education instructor. Ms. Ogawa loves sports of all kinds, and is currently teaching physical education at ISAK.
Mr. Christensen has a Master’s degree in English Literature and a Bachelor’s degree in English Education. For the last ten years he has been teaching English language arts, IB English Language and Literature and IB Film at his previous schools. Mr. Christensen grew up in Minnesota in the United States and has lived in Turkey for the last decade. Living and working abroad has broadened his perspective as a teacher and lifelong learner.
Marketing & Communications Associate
Coming to Japan with dreams of being an animator, Marco found himself teaching English in Matsumoto while continuously working on his side hustle LaidbackMarco. After a year and a half, he found his way onto the ISAK campus where he found a second chance at living a High School experience. One of the younger members of the staff, he finds himself as a bridge between the two generations. Still holding onto the hope that he will be able to attend his Kyoto School of Art & Design, you’ll find him waking up early and staying up late working on creative pursuits.
Chemistry, G10 Science
Michelle has been teaching for 18 years. For the past 8 years, she has been teaching IBDP Chemistry and Biology in Germany and Vietnam. She believes school is about more than just the academics and looks forward to being involved in the extended aspects of the curriculum that are a significant part of UWC ISAK Japan. Michelle enjoys being part of UWC ISAK’s incredibly diverse community because it broadens horizons and allows one to better appreciate their own background.
Ms. Kobayashi was drawn to UWC ISAK Japan after learning about the leadership education that centers on attaining a peaceful and sustainable future. She is excited to be part of a diverse community and the opportunity to teach young people who will make the world a better place. She enjoys yoga, jogging, traveling, cooking, reading, and watching movies. She is excited by the opportunity at UWC ISAK to learning from each other — students, teachers and the community as a whole.
Director of Development
Ms. Gorai was born and raised in Tokyo. After receiving a Bachelor of Law degree from Keio University in Tokyo, she worked for more than 20 years at multinational companies, mainly in the finance and corporate sales, customer service, and project management. Ms. Gorai participated in two summer school programs overseas when she was a teenager, which were both eye-opening experiences and influenced her life choices. Naturally she was drawn to the mission and vision of UWC ISAK Japan and is now involved in building and maintaining the relationships with donors, Ms. Gorai enjoys supporting the realization of the world that UWC ISAK believes in.
Librarian, Information Science
Before coming to UWC ISAK, Mr. Onder worked in Turkey. In addition to being a librarian, he teaches information literacy. He earned his MBA through Ozyegin University. At UWC ISAK, he plans to use his previous experience to enhance the research abilities of students as well as creating a strong e-library for UWC ISAK.
First Aid Trainer, House Mentor
After caring for students as a House Mentor at UWC Changshu China, Nataly is excited to be joining the UWC ISAK community! Nataly comes from the USA and attended Brigham Young University, earning a B.S. in Physiology and Developmental Biology. While attending university, she became a resident assistant and discovered her affinity for pastoral care. She has enjoyed working with UWC students from around the world and looks forward to working with the students at UWC ISAK. Being a mother of two little girls has kept her very busy, but Nataly enjoys cooking, watching movies and hiking when she can find the time. She is thrilled to be moving to the crisp mountain air and the beautiful color-changing seasons in Karuizawa.
Noriko Maggio Saiki
After teaching Japanese at a prefectural high school in Japan, Ms. Saiki moved to Europe, where she taught IB Japanese Literature at the International School of Maastricht, International School of Eindhoven and the International School of Dusseldorf. She enjoys helping native-level Japanese students who are studying in a multilingual environment develop their Japanese language capabilities and deepen their understanding of Japanese culture. Ms. Saiki has a Bachelor’s degree in Japanese Language and Literature from the School of Education at Waseda University.
Deputy Head of School, Mathematics Dept Coordinator
Mr. Lacoste has been teaching physics and mathematics for the past 22 years in Egypt, Ecuador, Canada, Turkey, Hong Kong and now Japan. As an active workshop leader for IB workshops in both physics and mathematics as well as an IB examiner for HL Mathematics, Mr. Lacoste has been an active member in the international teaching community. He has earned his Bachelor’s degree in Physics at the University of Toronto and his Master’s degree in Mathematics at York University.
Counsellor and Interfaith Programme Coordinator
Before joining the International School circuit, Ms. Corrias has developed her professional profile working with charities and NGOs, where she operated in the management of human resources and as a trainer and facilitator in Italy, Spain, Israel/Palestine, Mexico and in the Balkans. She has developed projects in education, interfaith dialogue, community building, active citizenship, children’s rights, conflict transformation, and in the socio-medical field. Her focus has always been the social-emotional wellbeing of individuals and communities. Ms. Corrias holds a Master’s in Political Science with a focus on Social Science, and a Master’s in Cultural and Religious Mediation. She strongly believes that educating the young generations to self-reflection, dialogue, empathy and the value of diversity is crucial to support the growth of future leaders who will have a meaningful impact in our globalized world.
Manager of Technology
Ms. Koido brings an extensive background in web content design, marketing and project management to the UWC ISAK technology department. Prior to joining UWC ISAK, Ms. Koido worked for a Japanese general trading company where she spent several years focusing on digital youth culture, including both educational and entertainment content. She has lived abroad in both Canada and Britain. Ms. Koido received her Master’s degree in psychology from a UK university.
Office of Development
Ms. Okada spent her early childhood in Los Angeles, where she naturally learned to accept diversity, including cultural and racial differences. After moving back to Japan during high school, she experienced a shocking cultural gap in society, which often caused her to ponder why people aren’t simply accepted as they are. Ms. Okada hopes for true positive change in the world, and is supporting UWC ISAK Japan while raising two children. She graduated from Keio University and enjoyed an interesting career in finance and PR/marketing before joining UWC ISAK Japan. She is a self-described foodie, chef and golfer.
Head of School
Mr. Jemison was appointed founding Head of School from his position as Director of the Upper School at La Jolla Country Day School, a private school north of San Diego, California. During his eight-year tenure, he successfully led in all areas of the high school’s operations including educational program reform, fundraising, finance, preparing for college and marketing. A native of Nashville, TN (USA), Mr. Jemison first came to Japan in 1992 as a member of the Japanese Exchange Teaching Program where he served as an assistant language teacher at Kurikoma Junior High School in Miyagi-ken.
Office of Facilities
Mr. Santiago grew up in a very small Mixteco community in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. In his early years, he worked the land with his family where he learned to grow corn, beans and different kinds of fruit in addition to caring for chickens, goats, cows and sheep. After spending eight years working in the agricultural industry in the United States, Mr. Santiago relocated to Taiwan, before coming to Japan. He has always enjoyed plants and horticulture, and helps keep the ISAK grounds beautiful year round. Mr. Santiago enjoys helping students with their gardening project and he takes pride in keeping school buildings clean buildings and safe for the ISAK community.
Computer Science, Information Science
Dr. Pinzon obtained his Ph.D. in neuroscience, robotics, and computer science from Chubu University in Japan, his teaching certification from Sunderland University in the UK, and both MSc/BSc in electronic and electrical engineering in his homeland Colombia. Dr. Pinzon has taught different classes in engineering, computer science, mathematics, statistics, and robotics to varied audiences and age groups in India, Taiwan, and Colombia. He enjoys working in diverse and inclusive settings where he excels at helping his students connect real-life science with the classroom. He is a firm believer in education as a transformational force for a better future. Adventurer, quadrilingual, and avid learner, Dr. Pinzon also likes coffee, bicycles, and the outdoors.
Assistant to Chair of the Board
Over my career, I’ve worked closely with top executives at global investment banks. After an 8-year stint in Singapore, where I experienced the value of diversity, I’m happy to be back in Japan supporting the Chair of the Board in her efforts to spread the mission and message of UWC ISAK Japan. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling and playing golf.
Office of Facilities
Worked in a tourism industry in 6 different countries including a role of Sales & Marketing manager in the international organization for 10 years. Spent 11 years in Indonesia, and loved the local product such as batik, basket, curving..etc then started to own an export project (business? ). All products were her original design. After the all adventures in many different cultures, she is in believe of “There is a genius in every one of us” then wrote a children’s book with this message, also translated a picture book about “ a friendship between 2 different outlook”. Ms. Matsuo joined ISAK because there are so many of she believes in, and enjoying her new adventures with all ISAK family
Office of Accounting
Ms. Kitazawa began her career in accounting before moving on to real estate as an appraisal assistant. She changed careers in 2013, becoming an interpreter at a medical device manufacturing company where she interacted with a predominantly Filipino culture that allowed her to learn much about a different language, customs and culture. She lived in London for one year to study English, and has traveled extensively throughout the U.K. Her hobbies include her cats and hiking, and in particular climbing Mt. Kurofu, which she highly recommends for the magnificent view of nearby Mt. Asama.
Film, Financial Aid Coordinator
Sharon Lacoste McDonagh
Ms. McDonagh is a global nomad who has lived in Zambia, England, Egypt, Ethiopia, Sweden and Canada. She graduated with an IB Diploma from high school and has
worked at schools in Egypt, Ecuador, Turkey and Hong Kong. Sharon has taught IB Visual Arts, ToK and Film for many years and finds exploring the process of making things to be infinitely fascinating. She graduated from Stockholm University and the Swedish Film Institute and spent many years making film as a professional before becoming a visual arts educator.
I am a Singaporean who loves traveling, food, and adventure. I enjoy learning about cultures that are different from mine and getting to know people from various parts of the world. After graduation, I joined the teaching profession and have enjoyed working with young adults for the last 20 years. I feel lucky that my love for teaching allows me to live in different countries.
Shioko is an experienced nurse, with over 30 years of experience working primarily in hospitals, focused on family care and social work. She is passionate about supporting the physical and mental health of young people and is excited to be working at UWC ISAK Japan.
ENGLISH, ENGLISH DEPARTMENT CHAIR, ESL COORDINATOR, HOUSE MENTOR
Mr. Sgarbossa started teaching English while collaborating with a charity in Rwanda. He has been involved with the United World Colleges (UWC) movement for over twenty years. After running short courses in Montenegro and Russia, between 2006 and 2015 he worked at UWC Adriatic. He holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) from the University of Sunderland, a Master’s in International Educational Leadership and Change from The Education University of Hong Kong, a Master’s in International Studies and Diplomacy from the University of Trieste, and a Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA).
Trained as a counselor in Carl Roger’s person-centered approach, Mr. Sgarbossa believes that the intellectual development of students should go hand in hand with their personal growth, and is committed to supporting them in discovering and achieving their potential, both inside and outside the classroom.
History/Social Studies and TOK
I graduated from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada where my passion for teaching and social sciences began. Before coming to Japan, I taught IB MYP Individuals and Societies for two years in Jordan and started a master’s degree in Modern International and Transnational History at the University of Oslo; which I am in the process of completing. I am constantly driven to discover new perspectives and research topics that connect disciplines across the social sciences. My philosophy in education stems from the crucial foundation of open, honest, and critical discussion. In my spare time, I enjoy exploring new places and going on multi-day hikes.
Ms. Knight brings over 10 years of international experience as an educator and counsellor to UWC ISAK Japan. She began her career in education as a JET in Minamimakimura, and most recently worked at Makuhari Junior and Senior High School (Chiba) where she led the 7th and 8th-grade Returnee Language Arts courses and the Overseas College Counseling Program. Ms. Knight received a Bachelor of Arts in Government and International Studies from the University of Notre Dame and she holds a Master in Education and Curriculum Development. As a MEXT Scholar, Ms. Knight attended Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and earned a Certificate in Japanese Language Education. She enjoys using her expertise in international education to support students as they make confident life choices and plan a successful path toward university.
Chinese, IB Coordinator
Ms. Chien has a Master’s degree in International Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Chinese Literature. She has been teaching both Chinese A and Mandarin B in the IB Diploma Programme for 10 years. Ms. Chien was born in Taiwan and has lived in the UK for the last 15 years. Having taught in both Taiwan and UK, she truly enjoys working in an international environment, and believes that the cultural diversity helps enrich the whole learning process.
Yoko has a bachelor’s degree in finance from a university in the US. After working for an accounting office and real estate company in Tokyo, she moved to Karuizawa with her husband to spend the rest of here life in its beautiful environs. She enjoys supporting future changemakers and is happy to be a member of UWC ISAK Japan.
Ms. Takano holds degrees as a registered nurse and public health nurse. She initially worked in a clinical setting, acquiring counseling experience while working with both Japanese and international patients. She later worked as a nurse in the brain surgery department of a major regional hospital. Ms. Takano’s interest in international activities began in high school, when she was an exchange student to the US.Since then, she has been involved in international volunteer and charity activities, with focus on the Philippines and other countries in Asia. The mother of two children, Ms. Takano firmly believes that proper mental and physical health are essential for humans to make the most of their lives. She feels privileged to be working with UWC students, and is excited to help them realize their potential through good health.
Ms. Okita studied intercultural communication at Tsuda College, before working for global companies where she committed to process transformation and project management related to organization and HR. She sympathizes deeply with the UWC ISAK mission/vision. Ms. Okita moved to Karuizawa with her family and wishes to support ISAK’s future change makers! She is looking forward to raising her child in a nature-rich environment. She enjoys violin, reading and Japanese sake when she has time.
Through working for a local radio station, FM Karuizawa, where she learned much about ISAK, Ms. Ishiwa was keen to interview founder Ms. Lin Kobayashi for her radio program. However Ms. Ishiwa was so impressed by what she learned that she sought to become involved in the project herself, and Ms. Kobayashi ended up interviewing her! Alongside her work at the radio station for the past 10 years, she has worked as a freelance interpreter, emcee and narrator. In her childhood Ms. Ishiwa lived in Australia, the US and the Republic of Panama. Her interests include attending concerts, musicals, plays and trekking.