Profiles

  • Teacher

    It has been 14 years since I started working at Seisen.

    I was thrilled to work in the same school my daughter was attending as a student. I thought I knew lots of things about health care having worked in neurological, surgical, and cardiac floors, and also in ICU both in Japan and the US. I quickly, however, found out that I was wrong. There is more to students’ health care than physical illness or injury.

    I never knew that working in a school required more medical and psychological knowledge than working in a hospital. School nurses have to make their own decisions on every problem they encounter thus testing their ability and knowledge. I need to spend much of my time to acquire new knowledge to take care of our students properly. However, I can honestly say that being a school nurse, especially in an international school setting, is very challenging but the most rewarding job I ever had. There are never dull moments in the infirmary since something is happening all the time. It may be younger students crying or screaming because of scratches or scrapes they got, high school students stressed out from studying needing to sleep in a bed, or an ambulance being called because of a severe injury or illness that needs an immediate attention by a doctor. I am pretty sure that I am the highest record holder of riding in an ambulance with students to emergency rooms.

    Over the years I have worked in Seisen, I strongly believe that “healthy children learn better”. My ultimate goal as a school nurse is to keep our students safe and healthy so that they can stay in classrooms.
    In addition to being a school nurse and a member of the Health and Safety Committee, I teach PSHE classes for high school students regularly and health classes for the elementary school students when asked. Teaching is another big challenge. Trying to teach students to care about their own health takes much preparation, but worth it so that they learn to take care of their physical and psychological health.

    For the last 14 years, I have seen many students and teachers come and go, but one thing that does not change is that Seisen is always a caring community in supporting our students’ well being. That’s what I like about Seisen and am very proud to be a member of the Seisen community.

  • Teacher

    I love to learn, I love to teach and I enjoy realizing that the world is bigger than I thought it once was. Perhaps that is why I feel so at home in an international classroom, with confusion, with uncertainty, and with the complementary ambiguity of attempting more than we each thought was possible. Seisen allows students and teachers alike to dream, to look far, to err, and to refocus on who they want to become.

    Students select their futures daily through the choices they make or abandon – who they want to become, what they choose to remember about their pasts, where they think they belong, and especially when they decide that their lives are their own. As an Academic Counselor, I try to help them to dabble their feet in possible futures, to wonder about possibilities, to ultimately choose their next steps and to then complete college application

    There was a time when Seisen graduates either looked to the United States or stayed in Japan. Now less than half attend US universities; still nearly a quarter stay in Japan, but another quarter looks to Europe, especially the United Kingdom. Others apply to Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Australia, India and Malaysia.

    Having taught in international schools along the Pacific Rim for the past 30 years, I appreciate the roles of cultural diversity, perspective and bilingualism present in Seisen – they are what fuel future goals. My two sons have passed through Seisen and St. Mary’s, and through the years of opportunity and challenge, I believe their futures are now the richer for it.

  • Teacher

    My first encounter with Seisen was in seventh grade, when my parents convinced me to go for an interview. After moving from school to school within three countries due to my father’s job, I was not too keen on starting a new school for the tenth time. But I quickly fell in love with Seisen as I went through the interview with Sr. Asuncion and Sr. Concesa, and then visited the classes where I met friendly girls from all over the world. I am forever grateful to my parents for choosing Seisen for my education.

    Since then, Seisen has been my second home. In Seisen, we were given opportunities to challenge ourselves academically, and to try a variety of arts and sports and leadership and community service activities that prepared us for our the future. As Seisen students, we were strongly inspired by our teachers, the Sisters, fellow students, and the warm, family-like community. My friends are now leading their diverse lives in nations all over the world but when we see each other, we instantly go back to our fondest memories of childhood while appreciating the strong Seisen values embedded in us.

    After graduating, I studied in a bilingual university here in Japan, and then worked in a German Bank. Then my life faced another major encounter with Seisen -- I received a call from the Sisters asking whether I was interested in teaching Kindergarteners at Seisen. I was.

    When our daughter was born in 1998, my husband and I were thrilled to call Ms. Sheila O’Donoghue right from the delivery room for an application form for the Seisen Montessori Kindergarten. Our daughter is now thriving in high school, ready for her International Baccalaureate Diploma program (IB DP).

    TODAY, as I continue my career as a Kindergarten teacher in Seisen, I am grateful for each and every one of the children as gifts from God. At Seisen, we are given plenty of workshop opportunities and support in order to provide 21st century education to the students.

    Once again, I am very grateful that when I meet my former classmates, I get to proudly announce that we are continuing to “Renew, Enrich, and Energize” Seisen.

  • Teacher

    Moving from the endless prairies of central Canada to the endless neon lights of central Tokyo does not seem like a natural shift. Yet for me, throughout the last 15 years, it is precisely what has transpired. After stops in Bray, Ireland and Montreal, Canada, I knew that I wanted to not only be a teacher, but one in an international environment. Seisen International School has afforded me that opportunity.

    Since my arrival at Seisen three years ago, I have been impressed with the students’ desire to not only make Seisen a better place to be, but the world outside the school’s boundaries, too. Aside from being a middle school homeroom and a high school English teacher, I have worked with the Student Council (StuCo) for the past couple years, and I have consistently seen the students display the risk-taking, principled, open-minded, and reflective qualities that we value in an IB world school.

    Seisen students are a force for positive change, and I have witnessed the school be a place where the girls can tackle individual projects or work as part of a team to accomplish the goals they strive for. If the students can be leaders at Seisen today, they can be leaders in the world tomorrow.

    My daughter is a kindergarten student at Seisen, and I want her to be able to develop her mind, body, and spirit into the best person she can possibly be. I feel she is at the right school to ensure this happens.

  • Graduate

    Min Min Tun
    Seisen Class of 1981

    There are moments and decisions in life that are transforming and life changing. My parents’ decision to send my sister and me to Seisen, instead of a Japanese public school, counts as one of those moments. They didn’t know it then, but the choice they made many years ago set into motion events that made me who I am today.

    As I sat among my friends from Seisen at a reunion in London three years ago, laughing and talking with abandon, feeling at ease among women some of whom I have known since kindergarten, I was grateful again, for Seisen. Seisen provided friendship, values, self-confidence, support, emotional and financial, and most definitely an education.

    Except for two breaks at 6th and 7th, and 10th grade (when our family was back in Burma), I was a happy student at Seisen. The teachers and sisters of Seisen are some of the most caring, loving and supportive people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. The self-confidence, values and knowledge I gained at Seisen was just what I needed as I left Japan to start college in the US.

    My path in life isn’t a path that is straight or without detours. After graduating from Coe College with a major in chemistry (thank you Ms Armentia!) and a minor in French (merci Madame Plagnol!), I continued my studies as a graduate student at Rice University. I had a notion of contributing to the cancer field as a scientist at Bristol-Myers Squibb after my research of natural anti-cancer agents for my Masters thesis at Rice. Though I was inspired and admired greatly the efforts of the many scientists I worked with at BMS, after a few years, I felt that I could contribute to the health field in other ways.

    I set my sight on a MBA and enrolled at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. What a change from the world of science, expected and unexpected. Upon graduation, I chose to continue my learning and exploration of the business world as a strategic management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group at its Boston office. When the opportunity came up to go back into healthcare, I took it and moved to California to join Gilead Sciences, now a leading biopharmaceutical company, most known for its HIV drugs. Back when I started at Gilead Sciences in Corporate Development (M&A and licensing), it had just launched its first product and the company still had a start-up culture. It was fun and hard work to keep reinventing myself – child, college student, scientist, graduate student, business woman.

    I am, once again, at a different phase of my life. After leaving Gilead Sciences, I did some independent consulting in healthcare. Now I am a stay-at-home mother raising my two daughters in the San Franciso Bay Area. I searched extensively to find a school like Seisen for my daughters; a school that is warm, nurturing with a tight-knit community and good values. I did find such a school and we are all happy there but I realized that it is impossible to replicate what I had at Seisen.

    I will once again be reinventing myself and I will rely on what I have learned from my family and from Seisen. I will always remember the strong women leaders like Sister Asuncion at Seisen and the many loving and caring teachers and staff who in the time of need of our family were always there to support us, encourage us and believe in us. It is largely because of the generosity and the strong foundation of academics and values, and the self-confidence developed at Seisen that I am who I am today.

    In my opinion, one of the greatest gifts that a parent can give a child, besides unconditional love, is the gift of education in a safe, supportive, challenging and happy place. For me, that place was Seisen International School.

  • Student

    I started my journey Seisen when I was four years old and have been here ever since. Though an American citizen, I do not consider America "home" as I have not lived there long enough to be familiar with American culture. Though I am half Filipino, I grew up distant from the language and culture. In the place I do call home, Japan, my guise distinguishes me as an outsider from my ethic mix. The only place I have come to fully identify myself with is Seisen, where girls like me represent an array of cultural backgrounds which makes it such a great school. In my experiences on sports teams such as volleyball and basketball and working in leadership positions in groups such as the Student Council or the National Honor Society at Seisen, I have learned to work with people with an open mind, as culture is not the barrier that differentiates people: it is the mindset, the preconceptions that one may hold.

    Like the boundless world of international culture, I have always been drawn to the proliferative world of science. As innovation in technology and research continues to grow, so does our understanding of ourselves as we aim to predict and control human behavior. I aspired to be a part of this limitless world of science at a young age as I dreamed of becoming a doctor, with initial thanks to my parents who, like most parents, half-jokingly claim their daughter as the next great doctor or engineer. The human anatomy itself speaks a universal language of general understanding; yet it takes a particular mind to comprehend an individual past the mere substance that makes up our anatomy by understanding the individual as a person. I have been inspired by my experience at Seisen to integrate my passion for the biological and psychological sciences with my passion for people to study the most universal and fundamental indicator of one's well-being: health.

  • Mary Beth Thoren, Class of '81

    Mary Beth Thoren
    Seisen Class of 1981

    Further education: US Merchant Marine Academy ’85 (Engineering); Harvard Business School ’92 (MBA); University of London (Masters in Art History).

    Employment: Sea-going engineering; Management consultancy; Marketing. Working most recently for the BBC and for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, in London.

    After years of successfully being corporate, I recently jumped ship and landed in a nature conservation charity. Now, for the first time, my heart and head are completely aligned. What I find peculiar is the incredible sense of confidence I feel and I am struck by the power of bringing passion and intuition together with logic.

    While technically I went to one year of kindergarten at Seisen, I don’t really remember anything until my family returned to Tokyo when I was in fourth grade. After that, Seisen became my world and even now when I see my classmates, over twenty years later, I feel an extraordinary sense of peace and of being known.

    I left Seisen with a sense that ‘nothing was impossible’ and I could be and do whatever it was that I wanted. I didn’t realise until many years later that my Seisen classmates had this feeling too. It wasn’t something that was talked about. It’s just something that happened from being around bright motivated girls and teachers and staff who believed in them. What a gift that was!

    After Seisen, I went to a free military academy in the States as my parents didn’t have much money. While I wasn’t good at math and just awful at fixing things, I became an engineer because

    I believed I could do whatever I put my mind to – and I did. Life went on from there and I launched myself at everything with incredible drive.

    But you can’t take the heart out of a Seisen girl.

    I remember one day at Harvard Business School, walking out of class into the sun, buzzing from the intellectual challenge and I looked out to see rows of BMWs and Mercedes in the student car park. I suddenly became aware what a tiny very privileged part of the world I was in. The next day I joined the Samaritans, a charity that provides phone line help for people who are suicidal or very depressed. My life then became going to business school by day and by night talking on the phone to desperate people on the streets of Boston.

    More years passed and then in 2011, I took a sabbatical and went to the South Pole to stop the killing of the whales. It was ridiculously dangerous to be on small ill-equipped boats up against the high tech whalers with their steel reinforced bows and harpoon guns. We were going through ice and being tossed about in waves so high that the bridge of the ship was constantly drenched and the ship regularly rolled to angles of 30-45%.

    After coming back from the Antarctica, I couldn’t look at the issues facing our environment without burning with concern. I know it’s hard to see when you are in a city like Tokyo or London. Everything looks the same. But when you go out into nature you realise it’s being pillaged and that in the not too distant future, it’s going to collapse. 10 years? 20 years? 30 years? I don’t know but it’s still in our life time. So I quit the corporate world and joined a conservation charity.

    So there you go. One Seisen alum’s story so far.

    I will always be grateful to Seisen. For not tossing me out when my father was late with the school fees. For making the whole world feel as if it was my home. For making me believe I could do anything. And for nurturing the soft bit of me that cares. Because that’s the bit that allows me to use the power of all that excellent education and my own talent to do something for the world in which I live. And that, I think, is what makes me a very happy 49 year old.

  • Teacher

    I am a Montessori teacher in the Daffodil class in Seisen Kindergarten. In January 1985, I arrived from Ireland and started teaching in the Kindergarten with an initial contract for 18 months. At the time, I thought that was a perfect length of time to experience life in another country but here I am all these years later. It is difficult to resist the allure of both Seisen and Japan!

    I love teaching at Seisen as it really is like a second home. There is a wonderful warm atmosphere and we really are like one family. We see a child develop into an independent, inquisitive, caring and knowledgeable individual. Young children have so much enthusiasm, curiosity and joy that it is an absolute pleasure to spend my time in their company.

    My own children also have been lucky to have had the Seisen experience. My daughter attended the school from Montessori Kindergarten until she graduated in 2009. My son started his education in the coed Kindergarten before moving to St. Mary’s. I feel my whole family has been blessed as a result of Seisen.

    Seisen is truly a great school because of the nurturing, caring and dynamic learning environment and the unique Seisen Spirit is evident in all areas of the school.

  • Graduate

    Yumi Moriwaki
    Seisen Class of 1988

    When I was asked to write a profile for Seisen’s website, I agreed because I think it would have been helpful to me, if I had known more about students who had graduated before me, to get their advice, impressions, hopes and fears as they tackled successes and challenges. After jogging my mind a little, I tried to imagine myself back in high school... not easy since these days I often forget what I did just last week in the busy-ness of everyday tasks.


    It may sound cliche, but it is true, that the cultural diversity of the Seisen community did make me appreciate and be open to the differences amongst us. By difference I mean not just where we came from and where we wanted to go, but in how people express themselves, are motivated and interact with each other. What Seisen also taught me, as a small school, was the importance of taking the intiative, to make things happen, to get things done. I was an ambitious student but what I remember most from high school is how there were never enough hours to sleep in every morning or enough hours in the day to do everything I needed to and wanted to do. Well, some things never change.


    The IB program began at Seisen my junior year of high school. The school encouraged me to become one of their first diploma candidates. The IB was already well established around the world at good schools but at Seisen it was brand new--and only 2 students signed on to do the full diploma in my class. It seemed a small risk in that I had no idea how well the school could prepare me and I had always planned on taking AP courses and applying to universities in the United States only. I think however, the IB did encourage more independent and in depth research, critical thinking and prepare me better for the kinds of courses I was interested in, when I got to college.


    With the luxury of my parents paying for college, and admission to a world-renowned one, I obviously wanted to do well, but had only a vague idea of what I wanted to do, something in ‘Business or Publishing’ according to my college application. I wanted the time and freedom to explore both academically and socially, which I did and loved. I tried to get in to as many small seminars - classes with about 12 students and a professor that met weekly, which allowed me to delve in depth and go off on tangents that I wanted to read about or learn about, and plenty of time to spend with my new friends. Harvard had wonderful resources, fascinating people and really interesting professors. The friends I made in college, not to mention my husband, are some of the people I am closest to, even now, almost a quarter century later.


    Even as I was graduating from Harvard, I hadn’t made up my mind - I either wanted to be an academic in my field, art history, or wanted to become an architect. I sat at home and tried to figure out what I wanted to do and how hard I was willing to work for it. I took on some entry level jobs that at least seemed interesting, at broadcast station NHK helping organize their figure skating competitions, exhibits and concerts and then at Seisen, where the school had graciously offered me a position as a kind of college and academic counselor. I applied to graduate PhD programs in art history and professional degree programs in Architecture and waited to make my decision, meanwhile interning at different kinds of architecture firms: large corporate ones and small studio-like ones, making xeroxes, cutting endless rectangles of foam core and cardboard to make into models.


    Architecture school (Harvard University Graduate School of Design) was intense and an abrupt wake-up for me, going from leisurely, thoughtful and intellectual seminars and endeavors to regularly staying up until 2 or 3 am in the studio fueled by coffee - finishing drawings and models for presentations. What you learn even in architecture school, as one should, is how fun and easy it seems to think, to imagine and to design, but how difficult and time-consuming the actual production of drawings, the coordination of clients, engineers, stakeholders, and contractors in the design and construction process is to transform ideas into reality. I can’t complain because when I had that fork in the road where I chose to go to architecture school over a doctorate in art history - I decided I wanted to make things and see ideas built into something that people could touch, experience and occupy. There’s a Japanese saying about how everyone is either a craftsman, a salesman or a showman by nature. I think to be successful as an architect you need a little of all and juggle a little bit of each: you have to care deeply about how things are made, you have to convince your clients that you are the one that can realize their vision, and then you have to project that confidence and design sensibility to everyone around you - whether they are clients, builders, peers.


    The same is true in life: I juggle being an architect, a mom, a wife, a daughter and a friend... and am trying everyday to be the best I can be at each of those things, knowing it will be far from perfect.

  • Nozomi Shinoda, Class of '76

    Nozomi Shinoda

    Seisen Class of 1976

    I was born in Tokyo, Japan. I have had the privilege of growing up in New York and Tokyo. I started Seisen International School as a 7th grader at the Gotanda campus. I am a proud member of the Class of ’76. I had the honor of being the third student council president. To this day, I vividly remember the events, the meetings, and the various accomplishments as the leader of an incredible student body.

    In the fall of 1976, I began my undergraduate studies at International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan. I graduated in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication. In May of 1995, I received a Master of Education degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee in Elementary Education. I am a member of Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society in education. I have also studied linguistics at the University of Illinois, U.S. History and 20th Century American Literature at UCLA, and peer coaching at the University of San Diego. I am certified to teach kindergarten through 8th grade as well as endorsed to teach gifted education.

    I have been teaching for over 20 years! I began my teaching career at Seisen in 1980. I taught ESL in the elementary school. Since 1998, I have been working as a public school teacher in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. I taught 4th grade for nine years, then a gifted education teacher for 3rd through 5th graders, and I have been teaching gifted 1st grade for the past three years. I was Teacher of the Year at my workplace, Jackson Elementary, for the school year of 2007-2008. I also received the 11Alive Class Act Teacher Award. “11 Alive” is the news show for WXIA, the Atlanta affiliate station for NBC. Parents from my class nominated me and I was selected! My feature aired in August of 2011. Only 34 teachers from all over Georgia are selected for this award each year.


    My hobbies are running and cooking. I wake up at 4:00 every morning to train. I participate in road and trail races, from 5Ks to full marathons. Here is an article I would like to share with you. Please scroll down to the subtitle, "The Surprised Champion." This article was written after I became the XTERRA Trail Run World Champion in my division in December of 2012 in Hawaii.

    I also qualified for the 2014 Boston Marathon by completing the Snickers Albany Marathon with a time of 4:09:28. I am extremely happy that I can add this to my list of running accomplishments! Here is another piece about my running history published in an online magazine.

    I am the ’76 class representative for SFSA (Seisen Former Students' Association). Thanks to our alumni association, I have been able to reunite with friends whom I have not met for over 30 years. It is an amazing experience to be part of this great organization!

I am a seisen

Student

I started my journey Seisen when I was four years old and have been here ever since. Though an American citizen, I do not consider America "home" as I have not lived there long enough to be familiar with American culture. Though I am half Filipino, I grew up distant from the language and culture. In the place I do call home, Japan, my guise distinguishes me as an outsider from my ethic mix. The only place I have come to fully identify myself with is Seisen, where girls like me represent an array of cultural backgrounds which makes it such a great school. In my experiences on sports teams such as volleyball and basketball and working in leadership positions in groups such as the Student Council or the National Honor Society at Seisen, I have learned to work with people with an open mind, as culture is not the barrier that differentiates people: it is the mindset, the preconceptions that one may hold.

Like the boundless world of international culture, I have always been drawn to the proliferative world of science. As innovation in technology and research continues to grow, so does our understanding of ourselves as we aim to predict and control human behavior. I aspired to be a part of this limitless world of science at a young age as I dreamed of becoming a doctor, with initial thanks to my parents who, like most parents, half-jokingly claim their daughter as the next great doctor or engineer. The human anatomy itself speaks a universal language of general understanding; yet it takes a particular mind to comprehend an individual past the mere substance that makes up our anatomy by understanding the individual as a person. I have been inspired by my experience at Seisen to integrate my passion for the biological and psychological sciences with my passion for people to study the most universal and fundamental indicator of one's well-being: health.

I am a Seisen