Japanese speaker joins faculty at Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts

The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts, the public residential high school for gifted students in Hot Springs, now has a native Japanese speaker on the faculty.

Miyu Sugimoto will serve as an assistant teacher to the school’s Japanese instructor, Elizabeth Brown, during the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years. Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts is the only public school in the state to provide local education in Japanese.

Sugimoto, from Izumi, a town in Kagoshima Prefecture in southern Japan, teaches in Arkansas as part of the Japanese Language Teaching Assistant Program, or J-LEAP, which brings in speakers natives in the United States to serve as assistant teachers from kindergarten to 12th grade elementary schools.

J-LEAP is offered to American schools as part of a partnership between the Japan Foundation and the Laurasian Institution. The goal of the program is to provide a native speaker to serve as an assistant teacher to a head teacher in American schools. The assistant teacher becomes a more confident and qualified Japanese instructor while helping to strengthen the host school’s curriculum in the process.

Sugimoto was originally supposed to join Hot Springs faculty for the 2020-21 school year, but the covid-19 pandemic has prevented all travel through the J-LEAP program. She spent the year teaching Japanese in her home country, including at university level and online.

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