As far as I’m concerned, the most important people in our society (and somehow the most underpaid – sigh!) are teachers.  Our kids spend more hours a day with their teachers than they usually do with us.  I’m so thankful there are people like Julie who dedicate themselves to this awesome responsibility!

Julie 1

1.  Where do you work?  I work for the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA).  I am a kindergarten teacher at one of the Department of Defense Schools (DoDDS) schools on island.

2.  How did you hear of your job?  My husband was actually a DoDDS student when he was a kid and living in Germany!  That’s how I first found out about DoDDS.

3.  How did you get your job? There are two ways to get hired by DoDEA.  You can be a CONUS hire or a LOCAL hire. CONUS hires receive “orders” like the military and are sent to teach at one of the worldwide schools with DoDEA.  They receive specific benefits such as access to bases and housing. If you are a certified teacher and find yourself on island as a military dependant, you can apply to be a LOCAL hire. LOCAL hires are usually used to fill positions that were not filled with CONUS hires for whatever reason.  Getting picked up by the DoDDS system can be challenging depending on your certification(s) and the number of openings in the local schools. There is an online application that must be completed (the application can be found here.

4.  What is your job/what do you actually do?  Ha ha…what don’t I do…..

Julie 2

5.  Part time or full time?  Full time

6.  Pay?  Comparable to most stateside districts

7.  Education/training requirements?  See the website for specifics.

8.  Have you ever done a job like this before?  I was a teacher for 2 years before this, but I had never taught kindergarten before coming to the island.

9.  Is this your dream job or a fill-the-time job?  Dream job – I love being a teacher!  I’ve wanted this since I was a child, so it was easy to figure out what I wanted to do and actually be good at it.  I enjoy children and helping them to learn.  Seeing the “ah ha” look on a child’s face gives me tremendous joy!  Plus, I get to sing, dance, read, create, and act silly.  A lot of jobs would frown on that, but this job demands it!  There are always downsides to any job.  In the classroom, it can be large class size, frequently deployed parents, scheduling conflicts, etc., but I feel that the good outweighs the bad.

10.  Do you feel like you are making a difference in other’s island experience because of your job?  I hope so!  Any good teacher will strive to make a difference in the lives of his/her students.  I hope to give students not only a sound educational experience, but also a sense of security and stability.  The majority of my students are children of a military member(s) and must deal with frequent moves, deployments, and ongoing change and uncertainty.  If I can make a student feel safe first, then I can put my efforts into his/her education goals.

Julie 3

11.  Do you feel like you have improved your experience of Oki by having this job?  Yes!!  I would definitely need a job to keep sane while my hubby works long hours.  Also, I had completed my master’s degree in education prior to coming here, so I wanted to put it to good use.  Plus, I’ve met many of my friends through the DoDDS system and have met some wonderful parents and children through this job.  I feel extremely connected to the military community now.

12. Most stressful part of your job?  Best part of your job?  Some of the most stressful times of the year for me are also the best times.  At the end of the year, when we must have assessments and reports completed, I often get stressed out.  However, it’s also the time when I see end-of-the-year results in reading and writing that are encouraging.  Seeing a child go from not being able to recognize his/her name to reading and writing independently is an incredible experience.

13.Website/phone number:
Here is the website for DoDEA & website for Okinawa DoDDS.


  1. Hi1 I just found out I have orders to Okinawa next summer. I am also a teacher! I have taught all levels (K-2, Middle and high School) and have a 5th grade assignment this year.
    First I would like to say that I LOVE Officer Buckle and Gloria (the book Julie is reading in the top picture. Next, I would just like to ask how many other teacher types are out there. This seems to be an old post so I am not sure many will see it, but here’ hoping!
    I plan on getting started on paperwork to prepare for a smooth transition from CA teaching to DoDDS. I do hope it is not too intensive. It seems every move I start from scratch on licensing. BUT, I have always found that it is worth every minute! Like julie, I could not imagine my life with out the joys of teaching.
    Thanks Julie for sharing your passion with us and the children!!!!

  2. Hello I just wondering if jobs on base are only for Japanese people and/or Sofa Status personnel…what about for foreigners living in Japan? I have a friend from New Zealand living on Okinawa (she has a Japanese long term resident visa )and would like to apply for jobs on base. Is that possible? I would appreciate any info. Thanks!!

  3. ha ha, it’s our favourite K teacher! My son LOVED Mrs. H. last year. It was great to have her as a first elementary teacher and I loved helping out in the classroom because I was made to feel so at home! Teachers make such a massive difference in our childrens lives. I can’t wait to show Lewis when he gets home!