A Strong Philosophy is the Foundation for a Strong Mission

Karen O'Neill, Head of School

Tané Matsukata’s mission to educate Japanese and expatriate students to be international and independent thinkers is embodied in her well-known quote, “To share, to live and learn together and yet keep a special identity... that is Nishimachi.” She also believed Nishimachi students should be given the opportunity to learn a second language so they would develop an international perspective, grow beyond a single culture, and live harmoniously in, and contribute to, world society.

Still relevant in the world we live in today, and more than seven decades later, a Nishimachi education strives to bring young minds together under one international umbrella in order to build lines of communication and understanding.

Tané’s hope was that through education, the next generation would learn to live in peace, and never again would we see the horrors of World War II. This hope led to a vision of a school that would teach Japanese children the English language and Western culture, and teach foreign children the Japanese language and culture. When she opened the doors of our school in 1949, I wonder if she had known that our school would still, all these years later, be living out her hopes and dreams?

Over the years, our school has developed in many ways. Physical changes are evident and numerous, such as new buildings, the addition of the main gate, and a bit of color added to our playground. However, where we have seen the most change is through our understanding of how best to teach and learn. Gone are the days where teachers stand at blackboards and desks are lined up in rows. Our classrooms are now filled with furniture designed to offer students movement and flexibility. Technology is intertwined in everything we do and is something we now depend on, even more so with our current campus closure during the worldwide pandemic.

As we continue to look towards our future, including our planned high school expansion, it is time to reflect on where we began, where we are today and where we want to go. Our school’s foundation is built on Tané’s philosophy, but did you know that as a school, Nishimachi has never had an official mission statement. Let’s explore how things have evolved over these 70 years.

In 1949 we began with four students. English was taught as a foreign language, and our school was called Nishimachi School. By the mid-1950s we had one hundred students, and the number grew to more than 200 a decade later as students from many different countries enrolled. Junior high school level education was added in 1963 and has since evolved into our middle school with its own unique traditions and student responsibilities.

As the demographics of our school broadened, by 1966, we decided to change our name to Nishimachi International School. In 1986, we became accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), a US West Coast accreditation body. Over the ensuing decade of the ’90s, the school updated its school philosophy and instituted Student Learning Expectations (SLEs). By 2006 we were also accredited by CIS, the Council for International Schools.

School Philosophy: Statement of Multiculturalism Nishimachi believes that education should promote the well-rounded development of individuals through the cultivation of their intellectual, creative, personal, social, and physical abilities. The school is committed to educating both Japanese and foreign students to be international and independent thinkers. We believe that learning a second language provides the opportunity to grow beyond a single culture. We believe that classroom and co-curricular activities should foster sensitivity to, and respect for, individual talents as well as differences. We believe that every student must learn to function both as an individual and as part of a group. Our ultimate goal is that every Nishimachi student learns to live harmoniously in, and contribute to, world society.

In 2016, following a successful CIS/WASC reaccreditation, we took the recommendations of the report to develop the 2017-2021 strategic plan. A consultant was retained to help launch this effort, and students, staff, parents, and our Nishimachi-Kai community had the opportunity to contribute their ideas and thoughts through a community-wide survey. We also held a workshop/focus group where over a hundred parents attended. From the ensuing work over the past four years, Nishimachi Learner Expectations were born, and a new school-wide mission statement was articulated. We share it here for your feedback.

Mission: Develop learners and leaders who know, care, and take action, to bring value to others and to make a positive impact on the world.

Together with our founder’s philosophy, this mission statement embodies our work to prepare students for their future. As we begin our reaccreditation cycle this month, we will continue to reach out to all members of our wider community as we add in conversations about our high school visioning process. You will hear from us asking for your opinion through online surveys. We thank you in advance for your input and welcome your feedback.

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