Elementary and Early Childhood Student

Audrey Nagakura

"As a teacher, I will try to show my students that I genuinely care about them – their health, academic success, and well-being"


Hilo, Hawai'i


School of Teacher Education - Elementary

Related Degrees

  • BEd, Elementary Education

What drew you to the program (STE EECE)?

I knew I wanted to work with children, and becoming a teacher always interested me. I first studied to become a pediatric dentist, but I realized that wasn’t for me, so I changed my plans to become a teacher. All of the classes interested me way more, so I applied for the program and am happier than ever.

How did the Kyoto visit impact you?

On a more personal level, I was able to bond with my classmates (and future colleagues) outside of the classroom. We were all in a different place and had a lot of fun exploring and trying new things. On a professional level, being in a different country allowed me to be the “outsider.” I was now the “JLL” (Japanese Language Learner) student who could barely understand the language. Pictures helped, but having explanations helped greatly.  Even if the Japanese person knew a little English, I felt way more comfortable. That is what I will take into consideration when I have ELL students. I will try my best to know at least a couple of important phrases or words in their language to make them feel like less of an outsider. Also, including symbols and pictures with directions and labels as much as possible for all of my students (not just the ELL students) will help them understand.

How will you relate to your students as a teacher?

As a teacher, I will try to show my students that I genuinely care about them – their health, academic success, and well-being.  I do not believe in being a strict teacher who yells to get a point across. I know for a fact that this does not work; it only makes the students shut down or resent you. I will try my best to be friendly, but stern when needed.  I won’t be the students’ friend… more like their friendly teacher.

Describe your road to becoming an educator.

Once I began taking education-related classes, I realized that this is what I want to do. I enjoy working with children, going into the field, and getting hands-on experience instead of just learning how to teach the students. I will admit that there are times when all of the planning ahead and correcting and more planning overwhelm me. I think about how this will be what I have to do every day – I will have homework for the rest of my career.  I think about how we don’t get paid enough for the hours we work, the money from our own pockets that we invest, and the care that we put in, and I wonder if it is all worth it. Then, I think about how much fun I have with the kids, how exciting it will be to have my own classroom, and the joy I feel when a student finally understands or improves greatly.  That keeps me pushing through and makes me see that I cannot picture myself doing anything other than teaching.

*The Kyoto Cohort consists of 11 undergraduate teacher candidates in the School of Teacher Education elementary program (STE EECE) who traveled to Kyoto, Japan in May 2013 to visit elementary schools and work with Bukkyo University teacher candidates and faculty. As part of the cohort, students participate in an Inquiry into Japanese Education (STE 399) course led by Rosela Balinbin, which includes academic presentations to Dean Young, STE Elementary faculty, and COE alumni.

I'm interested in learning more about a degree or certificate in Elementary Education.

Request More Info about choosing a program