Should You Bring The Kitchen Sink?

Thoughts, opinions, tips, information, phone numbers and such are all welcome. I know not a thing on the topic.

39 COMMENTS

  1. The comments from Gerber say it all. I just wanted to add that anyone considering teaching at Amicus should think again. I have followed this school closely as our son is about to enter Kindergarten (I am a researcher at OIST, know Amicus teachers and parents well, as a result, I have learned much.) Amicus is a Japanese school run like an outdated dictatorial Japanese corporation. Teachers I’ve spoken with are very distraught, have low morale and are treated as “office workers.” They have no say in anything educational because all decisions are made by a man named Matsuda from Obunsha, who is a corporate bully (I heard he wrote a book about bullying, yet he is the ultimate bully.) The current principal, Arakawa, is “clueless,” has no admin. experience and has no answers for anything. The school “director” Kamei, and this principal, Arakawa, are merely puppets to Matsuda. The Chairman of Obunsha, Mr. Akao, inherited Obunsha but obviously has no interest in the workings of the school. For some strange reason, he leaves all decisions to Matsuda who makes one bad choice after another. Matsuda was “run out of town” by the parents back in March, and if it weren’t so serious, it would be funny. But educational standards are very low even though the teachers are trying their hardest, and most are extremely competent. They are put on endless “committees” with daily after school meetings. No time to breath and no breaks all day (this is illegal, but the Okinawa Prefecture and Labor office is powerless or uninterested enough to do anything about it.) Teacher/admin. turnover is a constant. The first two principals were professionals with lots of experience. Matsuda couldn’t handle their opinions, so he pushed them out (daily fighting) and brought in his puppets. There is a Head Teacher who mainly had experience as a substitute teacher in the public system because she only has a 2 year associates degree (I heard she has done a 3 month correspondence course for a unaccredited Bachelors degree.) No one knows how she became Head Teacher. And now, there’s a Vice Principal from Singapore who also has no admin. experience, only carries out instructions from… you guessed it. The only admin. with experience is an American who was brought here this year to build a JHS. Word is he has been fighting with the admin. for change since he arrived and is now locked away in the basement with little to do. Again, Matsuda does not appreciate any qualified advice. The school should just close or be turned into a museum. Nice buildings, no real education, and a lousy, unstable teacher situation – all should be publicly known. Oh, the buses are nice, and yet, the school is a financial wreck. No money for anything other than horses (run by, of course, Matsuda’s son.) Teacher’s pay has decreased yearly and no bonuses have been the norm. Budget problems are always cited as the reason – one teacher said he asked for a 3000Y CD player but was denied for budget reasons, yet there are imported palm trees, bronze statues of naked people and imported horse hay. Teachers/parents – stay clear of this school. Word has it that Matsuda now wants to build another disaster (this is his 4th attempt in the school building business) in Hokkaido (horse capital of Japan, why else?) One Japanese parent recently said to me, “Matsuda-san should do Japan a favor and just fade into oblivion.” Unfortunately, don’t count on it.

    • Dear Albert,

      I was wondering if since your very informative post from 2013, if you know if the school has improved or not.
      The AMICUS principal has an “automatic” seat on the OIST Board of Councillors while AMICUS Executive Board member under Obunsha’s Chairman Akao, serves both on the OIST Board of Governors and Board of Councillors. Are you still a researcher at OIST? I have read the OIST policies and code of conduct including their conflict of interest guidelines. As it stands, AMICUS executives have three seats on the OIST governing boards. After your comments about AMICUS would you think that OIST code of conduct should also apply to AMICUS? If not, do you have an opinion on whether those related to OIST would be in violation of the code of conduct for their actions and policies at AMICUS while having seats on both boards?
      Where does “Best in the World” end and “Black Kigyo” policies start? How can this situation be remedied?
      E

  2. Okinawa Amicus International is a highly dysfunctional school.

    Issue number one: Obunsha (publishing company that sells the Aiken English proficiency test) entirely runs the show. They are not professional educators nor do they hire qualified personal to administer the school. In three years of operation, they have had three different principals. The current principal has absolutely no experience working in an elementary or junior high school setting nor does he have any experience as a school administrator. He rests in his current position as a `yes` man to Obunsha.

    Issue number two: Okinawa Amicus International is not `international` in the least. When the school opened it was meant to accept children of researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST). This never happened. They took one look at Amicus and went elsewhere. Currently, not a single one. In fact, of the several foreign teachers currently working at Amicus, not even one has their own children in the school. Actually, `international`in the title means nothing; there are no internationally certified courses. In several countries (i.e. China and Thailand) this would be illegal.

    Issue number three: In three years of operation, there is still no PTA. Management actively discourages a PTA. In fact, management has stated to teachers that a PTA is not something that they must legally allow.

    Issue number four: There is still no gymnasium; not even a blue print. Facilities and equipment for PE are barely existent.

    Issue number five: Management changes tide with the time. They are only concerned with filling seats with children. There is an application process, but it`s meaningless. Even the parents who answer that they have chosen Amicus because they “like the color of the buses” get in.

    The school is a disaster.

    • Thank you for your post. I have heard so many rumors about this school, but the idea of principals coming in and fading away is very unpleasant. Moreover, the current principal doesn’t even know anything about his job. What does he do all day: Go for walks and shop online? Plus, you mentioned the school is run by the EIKEN Test people. I don’t think I could ever trust such an organization with my child’s education.

      By the way, what do you mean there’s no PTA? How do parents talk to teachers? Is there a ban on such activities? And without any PE equipment, when do children do to stay physically (and mentally) fit?

      This place just sounds horrible. What a waste!

  3. Concerning the comment about AMCUIS International; after a two year trial period I rate it as being no better than the other off base schools. Our hopes were crushed with the mischief of supposedly one of the better teacher, a non-Japanese teacher.

    The Japanese teachers are excellent in my opinion and I rate some areas of the school or its staff as: CEO/Upper-level management – O (outstanding); mid-level management – S (satisfactory); teaching staff – N (needs improvement); facility – G (good); communication between staff – N; communication with parents – N, too much apple polishing; agreements or decision normally change with the wind, complaints and inquiries often miss handled and information miss reported or miss understood; the ability to communicate with non-Japanese parents – N; progress reporting system – N, too subjective; fairness to all students/parents – N, no comments here; equipment – G; a good learning environment – N; English speaking school – N, even though lessons are taught in English, except for the Japanese course, most students communicate in Japanese; bus transportation – G; club and activities – G; safe environment – S; but the outdoor areas adjacent to the school boundaries have some potential areas for mishaps.

    Key areas are a good transportation system, but considered as being costly; and having “Horse Club.” Tuition to some may seem high but, I think it’s an acceptable rate for a private school that has at least Japanese Government accreditation.

    This is only my opinion and most off base schools known to me would be rated as being equal in the appropriate areas.

  4. There is another International School in Uruma City: Leonardo Da Vinci Academy.

    FULL TIME PROGRAM
    Leonardo Da Vinci Academy prepares “custom made” curricula that start with actual knowledge of the student. We develop a personalized tutoring program in which the student develops learning independence, builds his personality, and solves problems creatively.

    The school offers a program recognized internationally as well as by the Department of Education of the United States. In other words, once the requirements are fulfilled, a student graduating from LDVA will be able to enter a high school or college overseas that requires accreditation.

    The school’s philosophy is to promote an interdisciplinary approach, cultivate student independence, build strong ethical values, and use student’s time wisely. Subsequently, the school is open to working with families who want to take a combined ‘at school’/homeschool approach.

    LEARNER SUPPORT
    For students with ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, and Dyscalculia, we provide professional support and counseling.

    AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM
    This an assisted program enabling learners to study at their own focused pace. We also offer English, Japanese, and Spanish language learning.

    SUMMER PROGRAM
    This runs for eight weeks between June and August of each year. Mornings are dedicated to academics. Afternoons are dedicated to having fun.

    Please see the website for more details, or give us a call for more information.
    http://www.leonardodavinciacademy.org

    • Stay away from LDVA. The owners are hostile and deceptive. The initial veneer of pleasantness quickly disappears when genuine inquiry is made about staff and curriculum . The aggressive responses received are surprising for a couple professing qualifications in psychology and counselling. It is interesting to note that staff do not remain at this school, but move on quickly. It is a family run business.

  5. There is a new school opening in Uruama-Shi. It is called Okinawa Amicus International-OAI. This school is groundbreaking in its model of education. It is a dual English speaking program (an immersion system of education for non-English speaking students and an international system of education for English speakers). Both systems will merge for certain content areas to share and expand their knowledge of their diverse population. In the spring of 2011, OAI will be accepting students in Kindergarten and fourth grade, next year it will be Pre-K, K,1,4 and 5 and each year adding two grade until it is a full Pre-K to 9 school.

    http://www.amicus-okinawa.jp/en/

    A little background on this new school.
    The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) is scheduled to open in Onna-son, Okinawa Prefecture in 2012. A large number of researchers, students and their children are expected to be brought together in the region to conduct their research and lead their lives. Therefore, Okinawa Prefecture needs to establish a school which accommodates the children of OIST staff members, including foreign nationals.

  6. Jen, I just read your comment. The school I’m going to enroll my child is the Busy bee international school right off the foster legion gate. Their registration fee is ALOT of money but this is the only place I found that was close enough to Kinser. I just want my daughter to be able to continue learning and being able to be around other kids.
    I still want her to go to a dod school but I don’t want her to get held back over her birthday!

  7. The DoDDS schools do offer a summer school program. It runs from June 28-July 23rd, I believe. The hours are 9-12pm. Only certain schools on each base run the program, and space is limited. They sent out notices on May 10 to parents whose children were accepted into the summer school program. However, it never hurts to check. By the way, it is an enrichment program and not a remedial program.

  8. @Pauoa,

    I don’t know of any summer school programs, as in actual school.

    The bases offer summer programs at the Youth Center, but that is just basically “daycare” for school aged children (as far as I know).

    Perhaps some of the private schools around here offer summer sessions-most of those are religious based and can be easily found online.

  9. Summer is coming up and we are PCSing next month. We have 2 children aged 8 and 10 and want to know what summer school programs are available. Need to be English speaking.

    I’ve looked throughout this website, Google, and other Okinawa forums and there seems to be very little information about summer school.

    Thanks!

  10. Ocsi isn’t that great of a school. I noticed there were not any comments on the highschool/middleschool side of the school. There is no A/C in classes except for the office and library. Knowing how hot it gets in Okinawa i felt bad for my son when he came home smelling like he just went to work out.(The Dress code only allows him to wear collared shirts) I also visited recently at the school and although they say that all the teachers are degreed, most of them do not have a teaching degree. I thought this was strange so i sat in one of the classes with my son.(he was not embarrassed, but he wanted to show me how it was in a normal school day) After seeing his science class, taught by Mr. Anthony Njoku, I was not impressed. You could barely understand him at first and all he basically did was copy and paste the book onto the board. By the afternoon I was literally covered in sweat. The heat in the school is outrageous, no wonder my son is having a hard time paying attention in class. I talked to some of the students that I passed by and they honestly told me that this school was not worth it. There is no variety in classes that are taught there except for the occasional J-Term where the students get 2 classes for the whole day throughout January. Since this school has no way to make a nice studying environment for their students I do not agree with their strict dresscode. Once I can I will be happy to say that i will enroll my son back to Dodds school (kubasaki) for his last remaining years of high school. if you’re wondering he has spent 3 years at OCSI (from 8 to 11th grade)

  11. Marina,
    I noticed that school too! I am seriously looking at Maehara Catholic school for my children: 9, 7, 5 coming in this summer, but we are not Catholic so it does impose a problem..however, World Christian School seems to be up our alley. I just don’t know anything about the school there.

  12. Maybe no one else has noticed, but in the little box ads on the right side of the page, at the very bottom is a link to a school. World Mission Christian School. I’m not sure where it’s located, but looking at their site, they teach grade school.

  13. I just seem to have trouble finding anything near Kinser. I already drive to Sunshine Montessori everyday and I am really tired of it. All of the other ones mentioned are even further away, I believe. English language or Japanese language really doesn’t make much difference to me, but finding the info for the Japanese schools is very, very difficult.

  14. FYI, here in Japan the school system officially begins with grade 1. Pre-k and K are Yochien. There are several posts of Yochien in the schools section that you can search for one near you. I have noticed most Yochien also include younger ages. You may also be interested in East West Montessori, Clover Montessori, or Okinawa Montessori, all of which have K classes for 5 year olds. The only other English school would be Okinawa Christian International they have K3, K4, and K5. But, that would be a hike from Kinser. Not sure if their buses go that far, but you could ask. I have also heard really good things about the Kuwae program on base. Good Luck!

  15. Jamie – if you find anything I’d be interested to know – I’m down on Kinser as well. My daughter’s b-day is sept 11 and I am really not happy with the new cut-off dates. We still have an extra year to keep looking (she’ll only be 4 this year), but if you find somewhere I’d love to know! I’ve been looking, but haven’t really found anything.

  16. Does anyone know any English Speaking elementary schools near Kinser off base? My daughter turns 5 Sept 3rd and she missed the cut off date for Kindergarten by TWO days. I want to get her into school ASAP because she enjoys learning and miss being around kids her age. I don’t want to wait next year to put her in kindergarten. Thanks!

  17. SORRY– SUPER LONG COMMENT—
    Currently my children ages 14,13,& 10 have attended 8,7,&4 different schools, respectively. They have attended poor academic, excellent academic, parochial and DODDs schools (foriegn and domestic), even a very short stint of homeschooling. We have moved in the summer and school breaks as well as in the beginning/middle/ending of school years. After the intial adjustment period, they EXCEL in their schools—even in schools where i just butted heads with the staff! I am not bragging about my kids but I never believe in a “bad” school and never let my kids think that way either. We always try to make the best of any school they attend. My kids are normal—they love video games/computers/junk food/too much tv/ hanging with friends as well as reading/art/ musical instruments/oceans sports and whatever any location has to offer. They are doing as well as my nieces. whos mom forbad everything that is “cool” as a kid. They are on the track to attending colleges with dreams of becoming an architect, marine bioligist and…. well my 10 yr old hasnt quite figured that one out yet. But they are kids from a mom who attended 2 years of community college and a dad who flunked a year in high school and went straight into the military. We just try our best. That’s all you can do. But as for the schools they are in now–Kubasaki HS, Laster MS and ECKillin ES,—the only thing that “I” had to adjust to was more computer time for their homework. My 4th grader is using a flashdrive and making a power point presentation! All bulletins/info/newsletters comes thru the email. I have had to learm to adjust to this but hey that;s what we do right—Adjust and Overcome 🙂

  18. I am interested in hearing experiences from both on base school (Foster) and of base schools. I am up in arms trying to decide what’s best for my first grader. If you have any info please share it with me.

  19. This may be late, but I hope this helps anyone who’s interested in off-base medical care.

    I have a friend who opted for Tricare Standard so that she and her children can go to a Japanese doctor. Her husband is active duty so he has no choice (I was told) but to be seen on base only. She feels that the quality of medical care that they receive from the Japanese doctors and medical facilities are better than what she received on base. She goes to Chuba Hospital on Rt 75 near the Main City San-A in Gushikawa.
    As for the language issue, my friend said that their Japanese doctors speak good English. Worst case scenario, you can always bring an interpreter with you when you need to.

  20. I know this comment is very late, but I just wanted to mention this. I went to New Life Academy for second grade, and then moved to the DODDS school on Kadena until my family moved again. I enjoyed my time at both places.

  21. I will be arriving in July. I have two boys 10 and 8.Do most people send their kids to DoDDs schools? I have been looking into the the schools a little trying to get an idea if they are good or not. The standardized test scores look a little sad. I would love some input. Thanks

  22. I appreciate all of the information that you all have offered. I am wondering what are the tuition fees for schools off base? Also can anyone provide websites and or phone numbers to the local off base schools. I did find out that my son would be Tricare Standard and not Prime wich means that he would not have a PCM. I have also found out there is care on Okinawa but could be very costly. Can you please provide any school information as our time is quickly approaching for PCS.

    Thank you
    Kim

  23. First let me apologize if this gets too long.

    There are a number of options for off base schooling for children that are not eligible for Dodds or parents that desire a Christian education.

    Outside of Kadena Gate 5 and down the road a bit is Zion Christian Academy. It has K4 through High School and teaches using the Abeka curicullum. Many families from the bases send their children there, along with many “doubles” as well. Bishop Whitaker and his wife do a wonderful job there.

    Oh and on a side note there are plenty of medical facilities here in Okinawa that can treat diabetic children. Only trouble would be the hospitals have few if any English speaking staff or Doctors.

  24. I am sorry your son was denied medical clearance. I would assume that if he is not on your orders you would not be able to enroll him in school as you need a copy of your orders along with other various papers to enroll students. We nearly had the same problem – my daughter had reflux. If they deny your medical clearance it usually means they don’t feel there are sufficient medical facilities to care for him on the island. Or that they can’t get the medication or other items he may need. If this is true or not is debatable.

  25. I don’t know anything about DoDDs schools but as for health care, I know there is an Adventist Medical Center on island that has at least some English speaking staff. It’s something to check in to. Website is: http://www.amc.gr.jp/

    But I agree with chunkychun that if you can get your orders changed, that may be the easiest thing. If you can’t… then I’d check with the Adventist hospital.

  26. I’m sorry your son didn’t pass the overseas screening. I would seriously consider not coming to Okinawa. I think it would be difficult getting good health care with the Japanese unless you are fluent. I would let him know it is not his fault and be excited about the next option.

  27. My 13 yr old son was denied medical clearance from Kadena because he is a type 1 diabetic. I still want to bring him. I have the option of leaving him with his father, but I don’t really want to do that. His dad is a great father, but I want him to be with me and his 7 yr old sister. I am wondering can he still come over non command sponsored and attend any of the DODD schools, maybe on a waiting list if not what other options are there for High school students (will be going to the 9th grade). Also what medical facilities on Okinawa treats patients with diabetes. He is seen at the doctors office 4 times a year to get his A1C level checked. He is on the minimed 522 pump. If you can help me, the information will be greatly appreciated.

  28. Okinawa Christian School International is the only english speaking school that is not Dodds that I know of. I know people who have gone to OCSI they claim that they didn’t learn much there. That when they went to college in the U.S. they were completely lost. OCSI only teaches religion none of the usual courses in public schools.

  29. It seems that the question about off-base schools is answered, but I listed the website and phone numbers for the schools again here.

    I do not have school-age child myself, but I have visited the campuss of OCSI and New Life Academy in Yamauchi right outside of Kadena Air Base Gate 5 for preschool children. Both schools are based on Christianity. There are American and Japanese students. I have not visited New Life Academy campus on 330 for primary, middle and high school students. It is located not far from Camp Butler. At both schools there are American, Japanese, and mixed children. I hope that someone whose children have been to one of those schools will be able to post comments about the schools in the near future.

    Off-Base English Speaking Schools
    OCSI
    http://ocsi.org/
    Phone: 098-958-3000
    New Life Academy
    http://www.newlifeacademy.com/
    Phone: 098-930-3893
    AmerAisan School in Okinawa
    Phone: 098-896-1966

  30. Okinawa Christian School International is an off base school in the Yomitan area(if traveling from kadena go up the 58 towards Nago. Turn left on the 6(I believe, the road torri is on). Follow this to Torri. When you get to the front gate of Torri start watching. the light after Torri you will turn right(there is a small family mart/lawson on the North-West (left side if you dont know your directions yet)corner, can’t remember which). It will be up the hill on your right. This school has Japanese teachers, but they speak only english to the children. They also have a block of study of the bible starting in Kindergarten. They do bus and the classes are small(my sons Kindergarten has 9 kids).

  31. Looking for an English speaking (preferably Christian) elementary school near Kadena for child not eligible for DoDDs. Please, if possible, give some idea of cost and location. Thanks.

  32. Our first year here, my daughter attended New Life Academy, which has a pre-school/kindergarten campus outside of Kadena Gate 1 and primary/middle school campus off of Hwy. 330 near Camp Foster. We had a wonderful experience with pre-school at New Life Academy. They have a website: http://www.newlifeacademy.com. I have also heard good things about Okinawa Christian School International which is up near Torii Station. I believe they also have a bus system for the kids for an extra charge if that’s a bit of a drive for parents. Their website is: http://www.ocsi.org/english/
    My son attends Okinawa Montessori School as a pre-schooler, but they will accept students up to age 6.
    Hope this helps and good luck!

  33. My daughter recently started kindergarten at a local Japanese public school. She is the only full American student enrolled in kindergarten, which has about 70 students. If this is the route that you want to take, the first step is to go to the “Social Education” department at the city office building for the city that you live in. You might want to take an interpreter with you. The city office set up an appointment for us at the school and our interpreter helped us fill out the forms.

    Before starting kindergarten, my daughter spent about 9 months in an international preschool so that she knew some basic Japanese. She has been doing well in kindergarten and has been able to communicate with the teacher and the other students. No English is spoken in her kindergarten class.

    My daughter and I are both enrolled in Japanese classes at a local Kumon center also.

  34. I may have answered this one a bit myself. I asked around a bit and it seems that you can either put your child in a Japanese school. I’m not sure of any that people have gone to. Or there are a few schools that do the early primary grades. New Life Academy. Maybe a Montessori school. Not super helpful, I know.

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