Heather Omori, MEdT Alumna and 65th Cherry Blossom Queen

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Heather Omori
“My educational experiences were a huge benefit during my time as a Cherry Blossom Contestant.”
Hometown:

Mililani, HI

Department:

ITE

Degree:

Master of Education in Teaching (MEdT)

Where do you work?
I teach third grade at Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School.

When did you know you wanted to become a teacher?
When I was in third grade, I struggled with reading and language arts. I was at the point where I would be kicking and screaming just to finish a chapter in a book. But, I had the most amazing teacher who didn't give up on me and pushed me to do my best. By middle school, I was on the honor roll and shined in school because of Mrs. Tanigawa, my third grade teacher. Now, I push my students to do their very best and help them work through the struggles they face in school.

Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree?
I received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UH Mānoa in three years. During that time, I worked in many different schools around the island, planning lessons for elementary school students. I fell in love with it and knew that I was going to go back to get a master’s degree to become a teacher.  

What was the best part of your COE experience?
The best part was going out into the field and getting hands-on experience. I enjoyed creating lessons for all grade levels, learning from amazing teachers who inspired me to be an even better educator, and sharing these experiences with my cohort (34) members who were all supportive during my two years in the program.

What advice would you give to students thinking about a career in education?
I would tell them to make the most of any job. Teaching is a rewarding career, but it takes lots of hard work and love. It's about knowing your students and being flexible because this world is continuously changing.

How did your education help you along the way to competing in the 65th Cherry Blossom Festival?
Education helped me to be open to any type of cultural activities. It also helped me with my public speaking – in Cherry Blossom, we do many public appearances, and we are asked an impromptu questions before an audience which is great practice for Festival Ball night. Writing my Plan B helped me with writing my speech about "Who am I?" This was recited during Festival Ball night as well. My educational experiences were a huge benefit during my time as a Cherry Blossom Contestant.

Will you bring these experiences into your classroom?
During my time as a contestant, we had many different Japanese culture classes, like aikido, ikebana, Japanese history, taiko, calligraphy, origami, manju making, Japanese business etiquette, tea ceremony, and bon odori. The school where I work is located on Schofield Barracks, and many of my students have never been exposed to the Japanese culture. I used this opportunity to take what I learned from my Cherry Blossom culture classes and brought it back to my classroom. My students enjoy creating origami boxes and making ikebana for their Mother's Day gifts. My father, who is an aikido sensei, came to teach my students about aikido and how they can use it in their lives. The parents of my students were so happy that my students were learning about a new culture.