Prefectural Advisors

What’s a PA? 

Prefectural Advisors (PAs) are JET participants and Japanese staff that provide support to both JET participants and Contracting Organizations.  Each prefecture has at least one JET participant PA and one Japanese PA.  Kumamoto Prefecture has two JET participant PAs and two Japanese PAs.

What do we do? 

PAs relay information from CLAIR and the Prefectural Office to JET participants; supply information and answer questions on the JET terms and conditions, JET procedural matters, Japanese and home country taxes, health insurance, re-entry permits, visas, Japanese culture, driving in Japan, daily life in Japan, and a variety of other issues; plan and implement orientations, training seminars and other events; and occasionally mediate between JET participants and Contracting Organizations.

PAs are also available for consultation on personal or work-related issues. PAs can also help provide referrals to other resources as necessary.

What’s it all mean?

If you have any questions, need some assistance, or just want to talk with someone, please don’t hesitate to call or email one of the PAs.

Your PA team is:
International Affairs Division – Laura McGhee (CIR) and Keishi Matsuda (Japanese PA)
High School Education Division – Jonny Cornish (ALT) and Shiho Takaki (Japanese PA)

Here’s a little message from each of them.


Laura PALaura McGhee

CIR Prefectural Advisor
International Affairs Division

I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio in the United States. I always enjoyed studying foreign languages, and so when I entered university (at Ohio State University) I tried studying Japanese. I loved it so much that I ended up graduating with a double major in International Relations & Diplomacy and Japanese Studies (with a Studio Art minor). After graduating, I worked for several months as a tutor and a substitute teacher at a kindergarten.

My first visit to Japan was through a sister-state summer internship exchange program for university students between my home state of Ohio and Saitama Prefecture. Although I only spent six weeks in Japan, I decided that I wanted to come back and work in Japan.

I started my time on JET in the summer of 2013. I spent my first three years as an ALT in Amakusa, the islands in western Kumamoto Prefecture. There, I taught at two junior high schools and two elementary schools. If you ever have the chance to go to Amakusa, I highly recommend that you go – it is like no other place in Kumamoto. Dolphins, dinosaurs, and Santas are just a few words that come to mind when I think of Amakusa.

From July 2016, I started working at the International Affairs Division of the Kumamoto Prefectural Office as a CIR and PA. As a PA, I am here to offer Kumamoto JETs information and support. If you ever have questions, concerns, or need someone to talk to, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me!

My hobbies are pottery, hiking, studying Japanese, cooking (although I am horrible at it), and traveling. In the past I have presented about sightseeing in Kumamoto, so if you need any suggestions, ask me!

To de-mystify the CIR PA position a bit, here are some of the things I do:

  • Listen. If you need to vent, are feeling homesick, talk over a difficult issue, or just need someone to listen, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
  • Facilitate communication between ALTs and contracting organizations when issues arise due to miscommunication or misunderstandings
  • Plan, organize, and facilitate Kumamoto Orientation.  
  • Compile the Kumamoto JET Programme Photo Directory.
  • Visit schools with the Japanese PA to watch the classes of 1st year JETs.
  • Conduct area visits with all 1st year JETs, their tantoshas, and some JTEs in a given area of the prefecture. There are usually about 6 or 7 areas that we visit in February.
  • Outreach visits to each area of the prefecture to have dinner with all the wonderful ALTs and CIRs.
  • Disseminate information on taxes, visas, reappointment, driving, festivals, etc.
  • Edit The YOKA, a quarterly JET newsletter published by the International Affairs Division.
  • Compile a tax guide for American JETs.
  • Help revise a recommended JET Terms and Conditions for contracting organizations in Kumamoto.
  • Meet, greet, and accompany incoming JETs from Tokyo to Kumamoto.
  • Attend PA conferences (twice a year).
  • Prepare a Leaver’s Packet for non-reappointing JETs.
  • Help the ALT PA to plan and facilitate the Skill Development Conference.
  • Monthly eikaiwa lessons with the ALT PA for kencho employees.
  • Maintain this website.

In addition to being PA, I’m also a CIR, which means I do a few other things. My CIR duties usually take up about 30-40% of my time, and include:

  • Translations for the prefectural government. They could be anything, such as thank you letters to/from foreign officials, pamphlets about Kumamoto’s delicious agricultural products, presentations about cruise ships at Yatsushiro Port, or requests from companies abroad wanting to use Kumamon on their products.
  • Interpretations. The majority of interpretations are 30-minute courtesy visits to the governor, vice-governor, or other officials from visitors to the prefecture. Once in awhile I’ll also be asked to accompany visitors as they travel around Kumamoto.
  • English interviews. I interview applicants for Kumamoto’s Technical Trainee Program and other prefectural programs.
  • Elementary and junior high school visits. Play with students, do games and activities that teach the students about America, and do anything else that the school asks.
  • English camps. Occasionally participate in English camps throughout the prefecture.
  • CIR conferences. Once a year.

Also important, here are some things PAs DON’T do:

  • Act as an advocate for JETs in disputes with their contracting organizations or JTEs
  • Evaluate JETs on their work performance.
  • Intervene in personal matters between JETs, particularly on financial issues
  • Tell JETs, their contracting organization, or their school what they have to do

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Jonny PAJonny Cornish

ALT Prefectural Advisor
Prefectural BOE

I was born and grew up in London. Off the back of an interest in physics, I went to university at Durham to study it. After playing American football, dabbling in karate and kendo, playing many computer games and eventually getting a master’s degree in physics, I returned to London and decided that I wanted to try out being a teacher. I finally got a teaching qualification and a third of a master’s degree in education after a year at King’s College London, where I spent time as a student teacher in some local schools.

Before eventually becoming a teacher in my home country I decided that I wanted to see more of the world. Having always been interested in Japanese martial arts, anime, the Japanese language and Japanese history since a young age, the JET Programme seemed the perfect opportunity.

These last three years my base school has been Kumamoto Kita High School and I have greatly enjoyed teaching and being a part of the Kumamoto JET Programme. In March of this year my beautiful baby girl (Jenny) was born to my wife (Ranko), who I met three years ago in Japan and married last June.

I am the wonderful and flamboyant Dokken’s successor as the ALT PA at the prefectural BOE. My spare time is pretty much all used on enjoying time with my daughter, but I still like anime, computer games and reading very much. With the other PAs, I very much look forward to helping you make the most of the JET Programme, form meaningful connections and make lasting contributions in Kumamoto.

As an ALT PA, my duties involve:

  • Information giving.
  • Personal support for Kumamoto Prefecture ALTs.
  • 1st year SHS ALTs surveys and interviews.
  • English class observation visits with the Kumamoto Prefectural BOE.
  • Checking of English scripts for various exams.
  • Random English checks for the Prefectural BOE.
  • Recording various listening tests throughout the year.
  • Attending and assisting with English camps.
  • The planning, coordinating and organizing of the yearly Skill Development Conference.
  • Being available for mediation if any problems between ALTs and base schools arise.
  • Judging of speech and debate contests throughout Kumamoto Prefecture.
  • Weekly visits to Kumamoto Agricultural School and Kumamoto School for the Deaf.
  • Monthly eikaiwa lessons at the prefectural office.
  • Assisting the International Affairs Office with the orientation of new JETs.
  • The meeting, greeting and accompanying of new JETs from Tokyo to Kumamoto for group A and group B arrivals.
  • Outreach visits to each area in the prefecture to have dinner with JETs.
  • Attending PA conferences.
  • Compiling Leaver’s Packet for non-reappointing JETs.

There are also some things that I DON’T do as PA:

  • Act as an advocate for JETs in disputes with their contracting organizations or JTEs
  • Evaluate JETs on their work performance.
  • Intervene in personal matters between JETs, particularly on financial issues.
  • Tell JETs, their contracting organization, or their school what they have to do.

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matsuda_sensei_edit

Keishi Matsuda

Japanese Prefectural Advisor
International Affairs Division

Hello! I’m Keishi Matsuda, new Japanese PA from this April. I had been teaching English in high schools for 13 years until last March. My work here is completely different from what I have done before, but I’ll do the best that I can for the JET Programme with Roland. Also having taught in various kinds of schools, I can give you some relevant advice if you need it.

I had many ALT friends in my twenties. Most of my English has come from them, but words are changing every day. Through this job, I will make efforts to improve my English to help you and express myself correctly. “I help you” means “you help me!” Let’s help each other to make our lives meaningful in Japan.

I was one of the “Rocky Wings”, which was a student exchange programme between Montana and Kumamoto. Now I’m fairly surprised to work next to the State of Montana Japan Trade Office!

I’m looking forward to meeting all of you, ALTs and CIRs. And all tantoshas too, of course! See you soon!

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Shiho Takaki

Japanese Prefectural Advisor
Kumamoto Prefectural BOE
High School Education Division

Hello! I’m Shiho Takaki. In April 2015, I started working as the Japanese PA in Kumamoto Prefectural Board of Education with the JET PA Nicole. My main role is to help ALTs and JTEs working in Kumamoto Prefectural senior high schools. ALTs are big motivators for students who want to improve their English abilities, so I’m really happy to be involved in the JET Programme and help ALTs and JTEs connected to this programme. 

Before coming here, I worked at Hitoyoshi SHS, Toryo SHS, and Uto SHS as an English teacher and had team-teaching lessons with some ALTs. I also have been a tantousha of some ALTs, so these experiences might be helpful in my present position.

One of my favorite things is sipping nice coffee, so I’m looking forward to meeting, talking and having a nice cup of coffee with you ALTs and CIRs. Please feel free to contact us!

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Former PAs

Roland Carlos

CIR Prefectural Advisor
International Affairs Division

I’m originally from Maryland, America, growing up about 15 minutes away from Washington D.C. While I love home (and still intensely follow Washington/Maryland sports), I decided to go west to the University of California, Berkeley for school. At Berkeley, I double majored in Computer Science and Japanese Language. After graduation, I worked in technology consulting out of San Francisco for about three years.

While I was at Berkeley, I had the opportunity to study abroad for half a year in Tsuru, Yamanashi Prefecture. It was there that my interest in Japan really began. In the years following my time in Tsuru, I made it a point to visit see my Tsuru friends and visit a new part of Japan every year. From those travels, I’ve been all over the country, from Hokkaido to Okinawa. Feel free to hit me up for travel advice at any time.

I decided to leave consulting and join the JET program in the summer of 2011. I spent my first three years as an ALT in Amakusa, the islands out in the western part of Kumamoto. While it doesn’t get many tourists outside of the summer (who come for some of the best beaches in Kumamoto), I suggest you take a trip out at least once. Dolphin watching, great onsen, fantastic ocean views, delicious seafood and super friendly people await you there.

Now in my fifth year here in Kumamoto, I’m taking on the challenge of becoming the CIR PA, working out of the International Affairs Division. As the PA, you’ll hear from me with important information and updates throughout the year about your time in Japan. I am also available anytime you have questions, concerns, comments, or just want to chat about your time here in Kumamoto.

 

Dokken Nakamone

ALT Prefectural Advisor
Prefectural BOE

Many ALTs come to Kumamoto from all over the world sharing a common interest in Japan. My interest began in high school where I took Japanese for my foreign language studies. I continued my Japanese studies in university, which then expanded to researching Japanese history, culture, and art movements.

I completed a dual degree in accounting and Japanese history at DePaul University in Chicago and Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. After graduating university, I worked briefly for a newspaper company and then moved to Aso where I taught at five senior high schools located all around the caldera.

From July 2015, I will be working as the ALT PA at the Kumamoto Prefectural Board of Education Office (Kencho) following the lovely Nicole. I have presented workshops at Tokyo Orientation, Kumamoto Orientation, the Intensive English Teacher’s Seminar, SDC and hope to share my experience and some useful knowledge with everyone.

I will be available for personal or work related counseling. If you also need help filing your US tax returns or have any Japanese language related matters, please don’t hesitate to send me a message.

In my spare time, I enjoy running and got to run some cool marathons in Japan, including the Kumamoto Castle Marathon and Miyazaki Aoshima Marathon. I’m also a huge fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Game of Thrones, and Gintama.

I am looking forward to working with everyone and hope to build a close community within the JET program. I don’t believe a job can be too big or too small if we all work together, so please contact me anytime if you have any questions or concerns. See you around in Kumamoto!

 

Hideki Harada (2012-2016)
Japanese Prefectural Advisor
International Affairs Division

Hello!  I’m Hideki Harada.  In April 2012 I started working as the Japanese PA and the JET Programme supervisor for Kumamoto Prefecture.  My primary role here is to run the JET Programme smoothly with Jason, giving piles of information and advice every day to JET tantoshas of every contracting organization.

When I was a university student I stayed in Bozeman, Montana in the USA for one year.  From 2005 to 2008, I stayed in Hamburg, Germany, and taught English at a Japanese school in Hamburg.  I’ve taught English in junior high schools for 15 years, so I have a lot of team-teaching experience with ALTs.  I also like to travel, and have been to about 30 countries!

I’m looking forward to meeting and talking with all you ALTs and CIRs.  I’ll do my best to help you.  See you soon!

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