10th Anniversary Campaign

Meet Our Faculty & Staff

At UWC ISAK Japan, we are ONE community, united in our diversity and commitment to creating a better world. Our team of experienced educators from around the world is dedicated to shaping the next generation of global leaders. But they are not alone. Our talented, multilingual staff members cover a wide variety of roles and responsibilities, bringing their unique perspectives to support our students in every way.


Adam Atkin

Adam 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.

Alastair Wanklyn
Environmental Systems and Societies, Biology

Mr. Wanklyn says UWC ISAK Japan is in the perfect location to study the biological and environmental sciences. Succession and zonation are under your feet around this active volcano. He values the school’s support for individual projects, both science and community-focused. A former journalist, he enjoys helping students investigate a story and publish it.

Alfonso Mangubat
Global Politics

Mr. Alfonso Mangubat comes from the Philippines, where he spent ten years teaching and leading schools from the Primary Years Programme to the Diploma Programme. Alfonso is passionate about history and the social sciences and enjoys lengthy discussions. He came to Japan to help lead a small international school in the Tokyo Prefecture as its PYP coordinator and Middle School Individuals and Societies teacher. He chose UWC ISAK Japan because of the community, its mission, and the challenge of teaching a dynamic subject. He and his wife are also countrysides and mountain enthusiasts.

Amos Irungu Wanjiru

Mr. Irungu is from Nairobi, Kenya, where he spent most of his childhood. He holds a bachelor’s degree in science education with a Mathematics major and taught at the Aga Khan Academies both in Mombasa and Nairobi, Kenya, from 2015 to 2019. He then moved to Japan to fulfill his lifelong dream of living and working abroad. He chose to work at UWC ISAK Japan because it aligns with his educational philosophy: education is a powerful tool that can change the world. As an educator, Mr. Irungu wants to equip young people with the skills and knowledge they need to address issues of both local and global significance. He is peculiarly inspired by UWC ISAK’s reputation for encouraging creativity through academic and outdoor programs. He is also impressed by the school’s dedication and commitment to actively advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. Mr. Irungu has been in Japan for three years before UWC ISAK and worked at Aoba international school. He loves Japanese culture, its cuisine, and its people’s hospitality and is excited to explore more of that in Karuizawa.

Andrei Tyoschin
Outdoor Education

Andrei brings a rich background to UWC ISAK as our Director of Outdoor Education and PE teacher. Born in Ukraine, he graduated from the Sport Boarding School in Nikolayev and the Lomonosov Moscow State University. He later moved to Canada, working as a petroleum engineer and earning a Masters in Education from the University of Calgary.

Before ISAK, Andrei taught at schools in Zimbabwe and China. A sports enthusiast, he enjoys calisthenics, mountain biking, and road biking. He believes in the motto, “in a healthy body, there is a healthy mind” and that “everyone can succeed.” Andrei resonates with ISAK’s philosophy, emphasizing the importance of self-discipline, overcoming challenges, and appreciating the environment for developing leaders.

Karuizawa provides the perfect blend of nature, modern lifestyle, and diversity for outdoor pursuits, aligning with Andrei’s passion for fostering collaboration among diverse minds to achieve innovation and ambition.

Andrew Boukaseff

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.

Arden Tyoschin
Accreditation Lead / Head of School Elect July 2024

Arden is a creative and curious thinker and doer who uses the mission and vision of her school as a lens for decision-making. She also uses collaborative design thinking as an approach to continuous improvement that focuses on students’ learning experiences. Throughout her distinguished career, she has served in various leadership positions at international schools around the world. These include Harare International School Zimbabwe for the last 5 years as Director, Nanjing International School and Xiamen International School in China for over 16 years combined, and several other schools in Canada and Russia. Truly a global citizen in outlook and experience, she speaks English, Russian, French, conversational Mandarin and basic Shona.

Arico Bolger

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.

Blessing Mutiro

Ms. Blessing Mutiro is a proactive counselor eager to help all patients attain exceptional mental and emotional wellness. Born and bred in the Southern region of Africa, in Zimbabwe, Blessing spent the last 14 years away from her home country. She served as a counselor in a non-Governmental Organization in South Africa for two years before moving to the beautiful Kingdom of Eswatini, also known as Swaziland, where she lived for 12 years. There, she worked as a school counselor for Ubombo Trust Schools and served in different Swaziland communities as a consultant working under the department of Social Welfare. Blessing joined UWC ISAK Japan because she strongly believes in UWC values and admires Japanese culture. She is excited about the beautiful Karuizawa environment and the community.

Brenda Hasham
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.

Cari Ito

Cari was born and raised in a rural suburb of Chicago, Illinois. She attended a residential high school in the US, where she took her first Japanese class. After a summer homestay in Sapporo, she attended and graduated from Waseda University. She worked for several years at a Japanese company before getting her Master’s at the University of California, Davis in linguistics. She is continuing to research the second language acquisition of Japanese and working on finishing her PhD. She loves all things language, diversity, and multilingualism. In her free time, she enjoys reading novels, ice skating, traveling, baking, and hanging out with her husband (Nao), cat (Troll), and (almost) 1-year-old daughter (Mia). She has participated in three Summer Schools and is very excited to be joining the UWC ISAK community and helping to build a program that assists and empowers students in their use of English (and other languages)!

Catherine Mimuro
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.

Cathy Banerji
English, TOK

Cathy Banerji has always lived and worked in India in various careers ranging from theatre, education, publishing, and working in the United Nations Volunteers. As a workshop leader for the IB for TOK, English A courses, and Film Studies, she traveled to many countries in the Asia-Pacific region. As a child, she spent a summer in Tokyo, wandering around the corridors of Sophia University where her father was a Chemistry visiting professor. Her deep connection with Japan began that summer. She became interested in UWC ISAK Japan for its mission and its motto: “One Life. Realize Your Potential. Be a Catalyst for Positive Change.” The rest is history. She enjoys living the school philosophy and its community.

Cheikh Badiane

Cheikh joined UWC ISAK Japan with 25 years of experience in English Language Teaching. He holds a doctoral degree in education from SUNY, Binghamton, New York and a master’s degree in ESL from Cheikh A Diop University, Dakar, Senegal. He has taught in Senegal, the USA, and Qatar. Cheikh is returning to the movement after teaching at UWC-USA for ten years. He enjoys the enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity of the UWC students and the fact that they do not just accept diversity; they celebrate it. The natural landscape of Karuizawa offers plenty of opportunities to connect with nature, and Cheikh is looking forward to taking part in many outdoor activities with UWC ISAK students. Cheikh enjoys swimming and playing soccer in his free time.

Christina Bonnell
Director of Student Welfare

Ms. Bonnell is originally from Miami, Florida, but has spent time living throughout the US and Japan. She visited Akita prefecture in Japan in high school as an exchange student. The experience inspired her to study abroad again in Tokyo and pursue a career in international education. She has since supported international students at Brown University and Millsaps College, has worked with students preparing to study abroad at Lehigh University, and has taught English as a Second Language in Mississippi and Tennessee. At Brown, many of the students with whom Ms. Bonnell worked closely were UWC alumni, and she was struck by their cultural humility and commitment to changing the world. Before joining UWC ISAK Japan, Ms. Bonnell has lived with her husband and two kids for the past three years at a boarding school in Virginia while pursuing her doctorate at the University of Virginia. She loved raising kids in a residential community and is thrilled to be able to move with her family to UWC ISAK Japan. She is excited about Karuizawa’s onsens and teaching her kids to ski in the winter.

Daisuke Masui
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.

Danika Nowak
University Advisor

Danika Nowak is a Guatemalan American educator with two decades of international experience teaching and mentoring students, from Guatemala City to Mexico. She holds a degree in Education & Learning and is deeply committed to service and the transformative impact it can have on students’ lives. As a college counselor and International ACAC member, she’s adept at guiding students through college admissions and building professional networks. Danika aims to forge meaningful relationships with students, empowering them to become self-driven learners. She’s thrilled to join the diverse, innovative UWC ISAK Japan community. An outdoor lover, she’s also drawn to Karuizawa’s serene mountains, viewing them as a catalyst for personal growth. Her hobbies include painting, reading, hiking, drinking coffee, and traveling.

Farah Omet
Academic Support

Farah brings a strong academic background in research and credentials as a yoga and meditation teacher to UWC ISAK Japan. Born in Jordan, Farah studied in her home country and abroad. She is currently completing her PhD in Economics. As the Student Academic Support Coordinator, Farah is dedicated to empowering students in their academic journeys in a holistic way. Her goal is to equip them with essential skills, including effective time management and efficient study techniques, creating an environment where every student can unlock their full potential.

Francis González
Spanish, IBDP Coordinator

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.

Fumika Azuma
Outdoor Education

Fumika, originally from Japan, spent most of her childhood in Singapore, where she attended UWCSEA. Since 2021, she has been part of the UWC ISAK Japan community, working as a counselor at both Summer School and Winter School. This experience inspired a career change from research technician to Outdoor Education Instructor at UWC ISAK Japan.

With a degree in Environmental Geography, Fumika previously worked in a lab studying biodiversity and evolution. She is eager to combine her academic background and love for the outdoors to enhance the school’s Outdoor Education program. Having lived in tropical climates for over half her life, Fumika is excited to explore snowy Nagano and continue her favorite activities, such as running and biking.

Gözde Mediha Kamer İlter

Gözde Kamer İlter has experience teaching IBDP, AP Chemistry and Nanoscience in Turkey since 2010. She completed her Ph.D. in analytical chemistry and participated in European Schoolnet projects to implement nanoscience education at the high school level. She is eager to learn more about the educational philosophy and strategy of the UWC movement. The respect she has for Japanese culture and the outdoor program of UWC ISAK brought her to Japan. As a road cyclist and outdoor enthusiast, she is excited to discover the nature of Japan and Karuizawa.

Jacob Bonnell
University Advisor

Mr. Bonnell grew up in the US and has worked all over the eastern United States, from Boston, Massachusetts, to Jackson, Mississippi. He, his wife Christina, and their two kids come to Karuizawa from Woodberry Forest School, a boarding school in rural Virginia where he served as a college counselor. Mr. Bonnell ran cross country and track in college and still runs to keep up with his son, who loves racing and playing tag more than anything else. The Bonnell family loves all things outdoors and will find any excuse to go outside and explore. Mr. Bonnell and his family are excited to get to know passionate and thoughtful students from all over the world, to understand their culture, and share a piece of their own.

Jason Underwood
English, ToK

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.

Jolyon Hinton
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..

Jonathan Kerr
Social/Emotional Health Counselor; Interfaith

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.

Judy Kerr
House Mentor

My list of college degrees may be interesting but doesn’t carry the personal importance that my experience inside and outside the classroom of college students, young teens, and young children has brought. If I could condense my learning to one thought or bit of knowledge it would be this, “ALL humans need to know that they are valued and loved.” No matter where I go or where I have been, every experience of teaching and integrating my life with the lives of people, no matter the age, has always brought me back to this point that people need value and love from each other. Consequently, I have learned a lot from my students. What drives my inner engine is an honest interaction. I am an educator, an artist, a musician, a gardener, a mom, and a lover of creation in all of its forms and I will always be passionately curious.

Kyle Morgan Thomas
Deputy Head of School - Academics

Mr. Thomas is a South African educational leader. His 12 years journey in education started at home and then propelled him to various leadership positions in South Korea, Lesotho, the Philippines, and finally Vietnam, where he was the Vice-Principal of a multi-campus international school system. UWC ISAK Japan aligns with his educational philosophy grounded in the belief that education is a basic human right and a necessary tool for survival and success. He believes we must empower students with the necessary skills to reach their potential and become transformational leaders who will be catalysts for change. His life-long goal is not only to support students in realizing and achieving their greatest potential but also to support the school community in creating the most optimal environment for teaching and learning.

Lorier Reygel

Mr. Reygel is originally from Toronto, Canada, but has not called it home for some time now. For the last fourteen years, he has taught in Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, and The Netherlands. He recently returned to Japan after eight years of teaching in Europe to serve at Ritsumeikan Junior and Senior High School (just outside of Kyoto) as an English Language and Literature teacher, Extended Essay Coordinator, and Approaches to Learning coordinator. He is excited about joining the UWC movement, specifically UWC ISAK Japan, with its focus on Leadership in a tight-knit community of learners. “So much about Karuizawa appeals to me that I hardly know where to begin. The climate, being surrounded by nature. Introducing my daughters to snow that doesn’t melt before it hits the ground… it reminds me of all the best parts of Canada!”

Lucy Twigger

Ms. Twigger joins UWC ISAK with extensive experience teaching Mathematics in the UK, Tokyo, and Singapore. After six years at UWCSEA, she sought to continue her involvement with the UWC movement, which aligns with her educational philosophy. UWC ISAK offered the chance to return to Japan, where she lived for a decade and developed a deep appreciation for the culture and language.

Eager to experience Japan’s distinct four seasons and engage in outdoor activities like hiking and cycling, Ms. Twigger is excited to work with UWC ISAK’s diverse student community. Passionate about fostering a love for Mathematics as a tool for positive change, she aims to make a significant contribution to the learning environment at the school.

Luka (Muhtesem Onder)
Librarian, Information Science

Before coming to UWC ISAK, Mr. Onder who is a teaching librarian worked in Turkey. He currently teaches information science and theory of knowledge. He earned his MBA through Ozyegin University and his master in Advanced Education in High School through University of the People. At UWC ISAK, he uses his previous experience to enhance the research and learning abilities of students as well as creating a strong library for UWC ISAK Japan.

Malcolm McKenzie
Head of School (through June 2024)

I am a South African by birth, and a citizen of many countries by inclination and through lived experience! I have enjoyed a thrilling and, I hope, service-focused career in education, teaching at universities and schools on four continents, and leading a number of fine boarding schools. These schools are in Botswana, the USA, the UK, and China. From 2000 to 2007, I was Principal of UWC Atlantic College in Wales. I love the energy of learning institutions, and the capacity that they have to create and sustain communities that are courteous, collegial, and full of character. In these ways, schools can be emblems of hope for our fractured world. I chose to come to UWC ISAK Japan because it is a new and compelling UWC, with certain distinctive and pioneering aspects to its mission. I look forward to helping to take this lovely school to the next phase of its development, to planning a pathway or ways for the next few years, and to getting to know its people, the students and the adults. They are diverse and purposeful, and full of love for and enjoyment of this magical place.

Marcos Melero

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.

Masako Ogawa
Physical Education

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.

Matthew Christensen
English, Film, Theatre

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.

Michelle Rutter
Deputy Head of School - Pastoral

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.

Mineko Kobayashi

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.

Ruben Pinzon
Computer Science, Information Science

Dr. Ruben’s academic journey spans continents and disciplines. He earned his Ph.D. in neuroscience, robotics, and computer science from Chubu University in Japan, blending his passions for technology and the brain. His teaching adventures have taken him to India, Taiwan, and Colombia, where he shared his expertise in engineering, computer science, mathematics, statistics, and robotics with students of all ages. Dr. Ruben thrives in diverse and inclusive environments, where he sparks connections between real-life science and classroom theory, believing in education as a catalyst for a brighter future. An avid adventurer and certified pilot, he is also passionate about project-based learning, empowering girls in computer science, and the craftsmanship of Japanese traditional carpentry. In his downtime, you can find him savoring coffee, cycling, or exploring the great outdoors.

Saki Koh
Short Programs Director

Saki is Korean-Japanese, from the Kansai-region of Japan. During her childhood years, she lived in Australia and attended international schools when living in Japan. She later moved to Tokyo to attend university where she studied anthropology and peace studies. After graduation, started her career in education at LITALICO Inc where she supported and tutored neurodiverse students. Later, she got her Master’s in Education and a teaching license, and has worked at various international schools in Tokyo as a classroom teacher and in academic support. Her first experience with UWC ISAK was at the 2017 Summer School. Since then, she has been part of the short programs as staff, faculty, and now as director.

Shermeen Ng

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.

Taymour Bouran
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.

Ya-Ling Chien
Chinese, World Languages Department Coordinator, School-Supported Self-Taught (SSST) Programme 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.

Zara Appleby-Eda
English Language Support Specialist

From Wales, United Kingdom, Zara works at UWC ISAK Japan as an English Language support tutor. She expressed eagerness to join the school’s diverse environment, stating that everyone – staff, faculty, and students – brings something unique to the community. According to her, “Learning about the different cultures, languages, and individual backgrounds is truly important, and UWC ISAK allows us to all share, work and live within this diverse community.”

Zara has been living in Japan for more than a decade, primarily in Tokyo, where she worked at several international childcare facilities. She relocated to Karuizawa in 2020, and the most enjoyable aspect of living there for her is the ability to farm by cultivating her own fruits and vegetables. Karuizawa’s surrounding environment is stunning, with numerous scenic walks and hikes, and she enjoys taking daily nature walks.


Alvaro Lopes Jr.
Office of Facilities
Aya Masumoto
Office of Registrar

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.

Dean Kirkness
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.

Elizabeth Oswald
Director of Special Projects

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. 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!

Erin Eastern
Head or Human Ressources

Ms. Eastern is a seasoned HR professional who has worked in museums, retail services, and various non-profit organizations in the USA. She is proud to join the UWC ISAK Japan community as she and her family move abroad for the first time. She spent most of her childhood in New Jersey and moved to New Orleans for her college years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in History with an English minor from Tulane University. Following graduation, she moved all around the US, working and exploring Chicago, Berkeley, Los Angeles, back to New Orleans, and finally landing in New York City for the past 14 years. In all of her travels within the US and internationally, it has been a lifelong dream to live and work abroad. She and her husband are most excited to eat all the delicious food, make local friends, and learn Japanese with their son. Ms. Eastern strongly believes in the UWC movement and looks forward to working with like-minded professionals in the international community.

Hiroe Nakada
Admissions Manager

Hiroe is a native of Japan who grew up in several countries across Asia and Europe but considers Tokyo her home. She completed her bachelor’s degree at a liberal arts college in upstate New York and her master’s degree in public policy in Tokyo. Prior to joining UWC ISAK Japan, Hiroe worked in education and sustainability, where she developed leadership programs for international students at UK universities.

Hiroe is fascinated with the school’s mission-driven culture and unique position within the Japanese education field. She’s excited to be part of the school’s diverse and welcoming community. Living in Karuizawa is a new experience for Hiroe, and she’s eager to explore the area by going on long walks and listening to her favorite podcasts.

Hiroko Kobayashi
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.

Jin-Seok Jeon
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.

Kaori Hirose
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.

Kayo Oikawa

From a young age, Kayo was passionate about helping those in need. She pursued her dream by studying International Relations at Tokyo Women’s Christian University. During her studies, she managed the Japan national lacrosse team, traveling extensively to the US, Canada, and Australia, while also supporting foreign national teams in Japan. Upon completing her studies, Kayo joined a bank’s international trading and foreign exchange department. Four years ago, she relocated to the serene surroundings near Karuizawa and has since been embracing the beauty of nature. Kayo joined the UWC ISAK family with enthusiasm, eager to support individuals who share her vision for a better world.

Keiko Sato
Community Liaison

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.

Kyoko Otake
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.

Makiko Naito
HR Office

Makiko hails from the nearby city of Saku, Japan, in beautiful Nagano Prefecture. Prior to becoming a part of UWC ISAK Japan, she gained invaluable experience through her family’s machinery business and crafted her artistic skills as a freelance designer. She joined UWC ISAK because she was inspired by the school’s mission to be a beacon for education in Japan and the world. As a local Nagano resident, Makiko finds great pleasure in immersing herself in the school’s diverse culture and global mission, learning new things every day.

Mako Ikeda
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.

Naoko Hosono
Office of Development

Before joining UWC ISAK, Naoko Hosono worked as a secretary for both a law firm and a consulting firm. During that time, she was involved in establishing overseas offices and launching a fund for Vietnamese companies. Naoko spent seven years living in Vietnam, where she occasionally volunteered at an international school and was deeply impressed by the respectful environment that fostered diversity.

Naoko was drawn to UWC ISAK’s mission and vision, as well as the school’s commitment to diversity and support for students from financially challenging backgrounds. Two years ago, Naoko and her family moved to Karuizawa to raise their children surrounded by beautiful nature. She now looks forward to enjoying hiking and winter sports with her family and their dog.

Naoyuki Nakajima

Before joining UWC ISAK Japan in Fall 2022, Naoyuki gained valuable experience working as an administrator for a private tutoring school and at a large bus pick-up and drop-off service company in Nagano prefecture. During his tenure, he occasionally drove buses for UWC ISAK, becoming captivated by the school’s distinctive environment and hospitality. To Naoyuki, it was a “dreamland that cannot be expressed in words,” and he aspired to be a part of this world. Now an essential member of the Facilities Team, Naoyuki focuses on ensuring student safety, managing the school’s buildings, and providing transportation. His commitment to serving students with the best possible support stems from the profound impact they have on his work.

Nicolas Carter

Mr. Carter is Belgian and British but has spent most of his life abroad. He grew up in Singapore, where he attended UWCSEA for 13 years until graduating in 2011. After a brief return to the UK for university, he started working for a Japanese non-profit as they developed their leadership program for high school graduates on the African continent. After five years of working in various roles in Dakar, Senegal, he moved to Tokyo in 2020 to focus on student recruitment and admissions for the program across the continent. As a UWC Alum with several years of experience supporting young people to have a transformative impact on their communities, he is thrilled to return concretely to the movement with UWC ISAK Japan. The school’s unique approach to helping students realize their potential aligns perfectly with his goals, and he looks forward to playing his part in the school community.

While he has been able to live and work in several different countries, he never lived more than a quick commute away from the center of a major city. Moving to Karuizawa represents a significant change in more ways than one! However, having spent many holidays and weekends hiking and trail running in the mountains, Karuizawa strikes him as the perfect place to take this first big step out of the city.

Olivia Boissel
Communications & Alumni Engagement Manager

After a few years working as a freelance consultant in the publishing industry and as a translator and French teacher, Olivia is excited to put her passion for words and images into practice at UWC ISAK Japan. She grew up mostly in rural South of France and studied in Paris at Sciences Po university where she earned a B.A. and a Masters in Cultural Policy and Management. Her education included two study abroad stints in Japan at Waseda University and at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. She also enjoyed a six month work assignment in Beijing, China. After she first supported the UWC ISAK Japan Summer School 2021 program as a staff member before joining full-time. She is thrilled to be part of the UWC ISAK Japan community as well as the local community here in beautiful Karuizawa.

Rie Koido
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.

Rie Okada
Fundraising Manager

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.

Sanae Matsuo
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

Satomi Kitazawa
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.

Sayo Iida
School Nurse

Originally from Tokyo, Sayo worked at several hospitals, at a college in Japan, and at a medical company in India before joining UWC ISAK. She loves traveling and the places that left the greatest impression on her were Ladakh in India and Luang Prabang in Laos, two quiet places surrounded by mountains. Sayo is also a dedicated yoga practitioner and practices daily. She strives to bring the best of her former experiences to support our community’s health and well-being on campus.

Toshiyuki Okamoto
Facilities Team

Toshiyuki Okamoto, affectionately known as Toshi-san, hails from Osaka in Japan’s Kansai region. His professional journey has spanned various industries. Initially, he was involved in transportation logistics before moving into an IT role within the food industry, which he transitioned into a career as a freelance IT professional. His decision to join UWC ISAK was driven by a desire to engage with individuals from different backgrounds. Toshi-san believes that this interaction will provide him with a broader global perspective, enhance his communication skills and, ultimately, lead to an expanded worldview.

Yoko Kumagai

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.

Yoko Machida
Fundraising Manager
Yumiko Okita
Personnel Manager

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.

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Imagine… if there was an ISAK lower school!

Dear Friends of UWC ISAK,

UWC ISAK is celebrating its 10th anniversary! We are proud of where we’ve come from, and we are excited about the next decade.

At this important milestone, we are wondering – in pursuit of broadening our impact, could an ISAK Lower School be considered as one of the options and would it be feasible? A school that embraces ISAK values and vision for a better future?

As we embark on this journey, if you would like to participate in possible market research and receive updates, please subscribe to our mailing list.