The Kentucky Association of Japanese Language Teachers recently selected Mariko Barnes of Lafayette High School as the state’s Japanese Teacher of the Year. She is now in the running for 2020 Kentucky World Language Teacher of the Year, which will be announced Sept. 19.
Barnes, who just completed her 13th year in Fayette County Public Schools, believes that speaking to students in their own language is the way to reach their hearts. One avenue she created at Lafayette is a Japanese cultural club. “We made takoyaki (octopus dumplings) last year. I also invite Japanese students to come after school and help my American students practice Japanese conversation,” she recalled.
A native of Niigata Prefecture, Japan, Barnes graduated from Yamanashi University with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. She also earned a bachelor’s in Mathematics Education from Eastern Kentucky University. She has a total of 14 years of classroom experience.
For questions, please email Laura Roche Youngworth, the world language content specialist in Fayette County Public Schools.