Japanese teacher, Ms. Braren, to retire after 32 years

Japanese teacher, Ms. Braren, to retire after 32 years

Japanese teacher, Ms. Braren, will retire this spring after 32 years.

Braren first began teaching when her relatives were students at Bolles. “They said ‘oh, they don’t have any Japanese,’” Braren recalls. Inspired by Japanese culture, Ms. Braren began teaching and brought the Japanese program to life. 

In the past three decades, Ms. Braren has noticed that the biggest change in the classroom is the amount of technology now available to help teach. When Ms. Braren first came to Bolles, she used videotapes, VCRs, and textbooks to give lessons. Now, with access to the Internet, Ms. Braren is able to centralize her teaching materials and “just use YouTube” along with textbooks.  

And online access to the Internet and platforms such as YouTube allows teachers to find videos that help visually teach students. These may include content on cuisine, martial arts, theater, and other cultural traditions dating back hundreds of years. 

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Outside of the classroom, Ms. Braren is the sponsor of the Japanese club. Here, students enjoy watching anime, practicing Kung Fu, learning calligraphy, and making Japanese rice balls called onigiri, all of which they otherwise wouldn’t be able to learn in class.

Ellie Stewart

Ms. Braren has been helping organize the Japanese exchange program since 1997. This year, the Japanese exchange students are visiting February 21-March 6. 

While the exchange students are here, they stay with host families, visit local destinations, attend classes with Bolles students, and watch athletic games. Ms. Braren emphasizes the importance of having foreign experiences because they deepen the students understanding of different cultures. 

She also helps organize the Bolles students’ trip to Japan as a part of the exchange trip. “We send the students to the Tokyo partner school, and they take the same classes in Japan,” Ms. Braren says. Taking these classes allows the exchange students to experience the different ways students learn around the world, and to learn more about the student environment in different countries. 

In past years, the Japanese exchange students, Bolles students, and Ms. Braren have helped organize the annual Japanese Week, consisting of Kahoot games, origami and onigiri making, and more anime. Ms. Braren hopes to emphasize the importance of learning about Japanese culture. 

“People travel all over the world,” Braren says, “and when they go to Japan, they may have business with Japanese companies.” Being able to assimilate with Japanese culture sets travelers and businessmen and women up for success, and having the opportunity to teach these skills to students is the reason why Ms. Braren began teaching.

About the Contributor
Ellie Stewart
Ellie Stewart, Copy Editor/Sports Editor
This year's Copy Editor and Sports Editor, Ellie Stewart, is a sophomore and a second-year staffer. She is a committed swimmer with an adventurous spirit and wishes to go scuba diving in the Bahamas. Ellie loves spending time with friends, all things beach, and reading. She hopes to use her abundant sports knowledge to write more articles for the Bolles sports community.