By Chris Mazachrism@thereminder.com
LONGMEADOW – Longmeadow High School social studies teacher Lori Snyder was honored at a ceremony on May 30 at which she was presented with the United States-Japan Foundation’s Elgin Heinz Outstanding Teacher Award
The award, which was first created in 2001, is given to educators that have made a commitment to bolstering understanding between the American and Japanese people.
“The best way I can describe Lori’s relationship with Japan is that it’s more of a love affair to its people and the personal connections she has cultivated for more than 20 years,” Assistant Principal Paul Dunkerly said.
While teaching Asian studies as well as U.S. and world history at the high school and advising the East Asia Club, she established an exchanged program through which students in Longmeadow and Takikawa, Hokkaido, Japan, could immerse themselves in the culture.
“Since my return from Japan and start at Longmeadow High School, I have spent 18 years of my professional career and a considerable amount of my personal time outside of work toward furthering mutual understandings between Americans and the Japanese,” she said.
Snyder has been involved in Japanese studies for more than two decades. Prior to coming to Longmeadow High School, she taught English to Japanese students in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program
“Little did I know then that my JET experience would inspire me to become a high school history teacher who has spent a career making Japan more familiar to Americans and America feel more familiar to the Japanese,” she said.
While teaching Asian studies as well as U.S. and world history at the high school and advising the East Asia Club, she established an exchange program through which students in Longmeadow and Takikawa could immerse themselves in the culture.
Upon receiving her award, Snyder issued thanks in both English and Japanese, then stressed the importance of exchange programs, stating, “Whether large like JET or small like Longmeadow-Takikawa, they can, and they do, change lives.”
Among those who spoke of Snyder’s dedication were Longmeadow Public Schools Superintendent Marie Doyle; Dylan Walker, president of the East Asia Club; Kathy Woods-Masalski, former director of the National Consortium for Teaching About Asia
and board member of the Massachusetts-Hokkaido Association
; Masaru Aniya, consul for Information and Cultural Affairs at the Japan Consulate in Boston; and David Janes, assistant to the president of the United States-Japan Foundation
and director of foundation’s grants.
Walker said the exchange program provided an opportunity to “open our minds to new things, meet new people and have a better understanding of the world we live in.”
Before presenting Snyder with the award, Janes took the opportunity to read congratulatory letters from a number of participants in the exchange program, as well as the mayor, superintendent of schools and principal in Takikawa.
In addition to a certificate, Snyder received a monetary award of $2,500 and $5,000 in project funds.