Japanese teacher Yukiyo Moorman honored by Japanese government


Photo courtesy Yukiyo Moorman

Whitman Japanese teacher Yukiyo Moorman was honored by the Japanese government with The Order of the Rising Sun with Silver Rays award on May 15.

By Liam Darnell

On May 15, the Japanese national government honored Whitman teacher Yukiyo Moorman for her dedication to teaching the Japanese language in the United States.

The Order of the Rising Sun with Silver Rays, established in 1875 by Emperor Meiji, is an award given to those that display exceptional civil or military merit. Moorman met with current Emperor Naruhito to receive her honor.

The government recognized Moorman for over 40 years of teaching Japanese, and for her role on the AP Japanese Language and Culture Exam Development Committee for the College Board. As a committee member, she negotiated with the Japanese government to fund the exam and assisted with its modernization.

During her 34 years teaching at Whitman, Moorman organized numerous trips to Japan, which allowed students to experience the culture firsthand, she said. She emphasized the importance of students learning about Japanese culture because of the country’s diplomatic and business ties with the United States.

“Politically, the US and Japan cannot separate, because we share too much important knowledge and skills,” Moorman said. “Yet, how many Americans know about Asia? Their mentality? Social values? Very few. That’s my mission — to teach students and take them to Japan and experience it when they are young.”

Senior Teddie Frank has taken Japanese with Moorman since eighth grade and appreciates the unique relationships Moorman builds with her students.

“She has been teaching for so long and she’s had so many students, but I still always felt like she cared about me personally,” Frank said. “My favorite experiences with Ms. Moorman have been things we did out of school like when many students got dinner with her. There are not many classes that give you relationships like that.”

Engineering teacher Michelle Innerarity took Japanese with Moorman for five years at Pyle and Whitman. She admires Moorman’s dedication to the culture and knowledge of the language.

“I think [her award] is incredibly deserved,” Innerarity said. “She just does a great job of educating the students, but she also goes one step further and takes students to a Japanese college fair, for example. I think inside and outside of school she reaches beyond.”

Frank attended one of Moorman’s trips to Japan, where she spent a month exploring the main island, including Tokyo and the areas affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Frank believed going to Japan widened her perspective and taught her things she could not learn in the classroom.

“I enjoy taking Japanese as it forces me to change my way of thinking,” Frank said. “You won’t realize how much of what you do is because of where you were raised until you start to learn how people from different cultures think and act.”

Moorman hopes to continue teaching and promoting Japanese language education for as long as possible.

“Teaching is my passion,” said Moorman. “I’m standing up for the Japanese language. I’m not going to give up because that’s my mission.”