Japanese and Spanish teacher Toshiki “Ken” Kumakura is moving on from RAHS after 12 years of service to students and staff. Eight years ago, before any AP language classes existed, Kumakura was the one to propose having RAHS to begin offering AP language classes.
Now that Kumakura is leaving, he wants all students to remember a simple saying from his classes.
“With tremendous effort, you can make it [Con mucho esfuerzo se puede alcanzar],” said Kumakura.
This is the message that he wants all of his students to take away from his classes when they graduate from RAHS, especially now that he himself is leaving. Many students have taken this lesson to heart, including junior Henry Crockett.
“In my first quarter of Mr. Kumakura’s class I was getting a C, and I realized that I needed to put in more effort to succeed,” said Crockett. “And from that realization, I put in more effort working outside of school as well as inside. Thanks to that teaching I really got a grasp that without effort you really can’t succeed in anything in life.”
Crockett is not the only one who remembers the teachings and the good times of Kumakura’s class. Junior Carolynn Ta will also miss the classes with Kumakura and cherishes the fun they have had.
“I have taken both Spanish and Japanese classes with Mr. Kumakura. It is rare to see him loose and [be] amiable in Japanese, not that that is bad,” said Ta. “But my favorite times with Kumakura [were] probably when he was teaching life lessons and the whole class was having a good laugh between the serious tests and lessons.Thankfully, I still have those tapes to remember the good times.”
Crockett above all else praises the ability and teaching style that Kumakura has used to help him excel at Spanish.
“Spanish is my most difficult subject, and having him as a teacher has really helped my Spanish,” said Crockett. “Above everything else, I want him to know that he has done his job as a teacher, and I want him to know that I have a much much better understanding of [the] language now.”
Ta is also grateful for the lessons in language Kumakura has taught her.
“Since I speak Vietnamese at home, it was great to see the connections between that and Japanese,” said Ta, “and because of learning Japanese from Kumakura, I can also use that as a baseline to jump off of to learn Korean because they are similar languages.”
Kumakura reciprocates the love for interacting with his students, and his favorite part of working with students has been seeing them grow both personally and academically.
“[My] favorite time is always with the students and eventually seeing people who have struggles and seeing them see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Kumakura. “It is one of the reasons why I came back: it is because I like seeing their growth and I enjoy seeing them grow academically.”
Altogether Kumakura wants his students to give their best and always be proactive about understanding people from all backgrounds.
“I think I have taught [my students many things] besides knowledge of the languages,” said Kumakura. “But I think I really emphasize respect, and that [respect] goes to other cultures and people. I emphasize effort, and it can open the way for college and jobs. I think that one of the things I want them to remember [is that] I want them to be men [and] women of effort.”