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The student news site of Kalani High School

Ka Leo O Kalani

Kalani Alum Zoe Tateyama Joins the Science Department as a First-Year Teacher

Kalani alum Zoe Tateyama returns to start her educational career teaching marine science and human physiology while finishing up her post baccalaureate degree at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. 

Tateyama, who has been a coach on the Kalani judo team for the last 4 years, is excited to be able to apply her knowledge both in and outside of the classroom. 

Zoe Tateyama poses in her new science classroom in room E-28. As a Kalani alumnus and judo coach, Tateyama is excited to enter this new phase in her educational career. (Lily Washburn)and outside of the classroom. 

“Since I started coaching I found a love for teaching,” Tateyama said. 

Tateyama has been in Judo since she was 5 years old and says it has been a huge part of her life ever since. She finds fulfillment in sharing the love of the sport and “giving back what was given to me”. 

One of her students, Piper Lee, emphasized Tateyama’s dedication to the team and to the school. 

“Coach Zoe is respectful, knowledgeable, supportive, understanding, and engaging,” she praised. 

Lee acknowledged Tateyama’s value for both hard work and rest, explaining that she encourages her students to take breaks to prevent burnout. 

 “She knows how hard we work but also values rest, as she has been in our shoes before,” Lee said. “This creates a healthy practice environment and an overall happier mindset for her athletes.”

Lee described Tateyama as “one of the best and most favorite coaches” she’s ever had, and admires her both as an instructor and person. 

“I love how she genuinely cares for each and every one of us,” Lee explained. “It’s hard to find good coaches who genuinely care for our wellbeing and push all of us to be our best.” 

For Tateyama, teaching is another way to share her passions with her students. 

As a student, she recalls having teachers that “weren’t the best”,  and wants to use her position to be the kind of teacher she wished she had in high school. 

“What I like most about her teaching style is that she is open to feedback and takes measures to ensure we fully understand the material being taught,” Kenya Visser (12), a student in Tateyama’s human physiology class, said. “For example, after we take notes, we do group activities where we get to apply what we learned.” 

Tateyama said it’s been challenging to adapt what she’s learned in college into lessons that are fun and interactive for her students, but feels it’s important to make learning enjoyable. 

“I’m still trying to get used to the whole teacher thing,” she admitted. “But I’m trying to be more personable and connect what is taught here with real life.” 

According to Visser, Tateyama looks to her students to improve her teaching and adapt to their learning styles. 

 “She doesn’t have a set teaching style yet and tells us to give her feedback if some things are hard to understand,” Visser explained. 

So far, Tateyama’s favorite thing about teaching has been getting to know her students.  She loves the diversity among her classes and enjoys getting to see how each student thinks and works in their own way. 

“I really like how the students are very self-directed and know that they’re responsible for their own learning,” she said. 

This year, she’s most looking forward to seeing the growth within her students. 

“I know a lot of them are in HOSA, so they do know a good amount of what I’m teaching, but it’s just like, not just knowing black and white,” she explained. 

Tateyama wants to provide a more in-depth understanding of human physiology to her students by showing them how they can use what they learn in class in their own life. She likes to structure a lot of group work into her lessons as well to mimic future professional environments. 

“The thing I like most about her class is that it allows me and my classmates to work together and get to know each other,” Visser said.

“When I’m able to work with other people it keeps me more engaged and makes the class more enjoyable” 

While teaching is her passion, sports, family, and friends are also major sources of joy in Tateyama’s life. 

“I just think that you always have to have people around you, no matter what you’re going through, so family and friends are very big for me,” she said. 

Having her family and friends by her side has been her biggest support during her transition to teaching this year. As a Kalani alumnus, Tateyama has also received a lot of support from her past teachers, who are now her colleagues. 

“Their support and their help, it really helps,” she said. “The support from everyone on the staff is super good.” 

Even her Judo students come to visit her in her classroom to check in on her. 

“Coach Zoe was born a natural teacher and leader,” Lee stressed.  “I have no doubt she is as great in school as she is in practice.” 

Tateyama sees teaching as her forever job and envisions herself in this position for the long run, explaining “school and sports is a very me type of thing”. 

“I’m proud to be an educator in sports and in the classroom,” she stated. “They help me grow. I help them grow. So, it’s like a reciprocal thing and that’s what makes me proud.” 

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Lily Washburn
Lily Washburn, Reporter
Lily is a senior and will be writing all the news you read in a few years-- if not sooner.

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