Retired RAHS teacher returns to the classroom

Kumakura enjoying a meal in Japan.
Photo courtesy of Kumakura

Toshiki Kumakura, retired RAHS AP Japanese and Spanish teacher, left RAHS last year and has been making his mark in the Federal Way school system.

Before he began substituting, Kumakura took some time off to help his son with his newborn baby.

“I was in Spokane for more than four months [helping my son], and I came back and started subbing for high schools in Federal Way,” said Kumakura.

Not only does Kumakura sub for the Federal Way school system he also works at a school similar to RAHS.

“I actually started teaching Spanish at Technology Access Foundation School. It is like Aviation, it is a STEM school in Federal Way.”

Even though Kumakura has been spending more time with his family lately, he is still passionate about teaching and isn’t quite ready to retire.

“I didn’t feel like it was time for me to completely retire, so I might continue with part-time but I don’t want to do full-time anymore,” said Kumakura. “[Teaching] during the afternoon or part-time would be ideal, unfortunately there isn’t a lot of Japanese teaching opportunities.”

After working at other schools, Kumakura hopes that the current student body at RAHS take advantage of the opportunities they have and keep in mind how lucky they are to go to RAHS.

“I hope the kids realize it that other schools aren’t as good [as RAHS],” said Kumakura. “In the classes that I substituted for close to one third of the class was absent and it was the norm.”

Junior Eric Lottsfeldt, a former student of Kumakura’s Japanese class, misses his class in many ways. Lottsfeldt regrets not being able to interact with Kumakura himself anymore and is saddened by not being able to learn from his unique teaching techniques.

“The main thing I miss is his teaching style, I feel that he had a very good linguistic teaching style in that he kept a very Japanese [speaking] based class and that he didn’t use that much English,” said Lottsfeldt.

Lottsfeldt also appreciated how the different instructing style created an environment that pushed his learning and provoked his love for Japanese.

“The way that he just kept talking in Japanese even if you might not understand it made you feel like you were learning at a much higher level,” said Lottsfeldt. “Because in the environment you pick up all these words since you’re listening to the Japanese and in your brain it makes it a lot easier to study.”

Lottsfeldt not only misses Kumakura’s teaching style, he also liked his personality and had fun hanging around in his class.

“I miss Kumakura himself, if you weren’t in his class then you probably don’t know his personality but he may look very stern on the outside but he was very nice and open on the inside,” said Lottsfeldt. “He took time to tutor individual students to where they can learn both writing and reading Japanese and that is basically what I miss the most.”

Although Kumakura has moved on from RAHS, the profound impact he has had upon his students education and lives is still present today.

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