”“I love being able to see every 6th grader and watch them grow over a short period of time,” says Gojo.
Middle School, Japanese Teacher
By Stacy Yuen
Life’s early experiences often spark one’s passions and life’s work.
This is the case for Aiko Gojo, a yonsei or 4th generation Japanese-American, who recalls watching KIKU Japanese language television in her childhood home in Mānoa Valley and trips to Japan as a pre-teen.
“Our family would visit cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hokkaido to watch my grandfather play softball,” recalls Gojo. “When I was 7 years old, I began playing, too, in Bobby Sox leagues in Hawaiʻi.”
After graduating from Roosevelt High School, Gojo went on to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa earning a degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in Japanese.
As a walk-on, she rode the bench her freshman year and worked her way in her sophomore year to a starting position and a scholarship, earning Western Athletic Conference academic honors in her junior and senior years.
Upon graduating from UH-Mānoa, Gojo taught Japanese at Kahuku High School and St. Andrew’s Priory before coming to Mid-Pacific in 2017 as the middle school’s Japanese teacher. She has been able to pursue both passions – Japanese and softball – as she is in her 4th year as the Owls’ girls varsity softball coach.
“I love softball. It has given me a lot of opportunities, including friendships, opportunities to travel and meet people. If I’m ever having a bad day, everything will be OK on the softball field.”
Gojo teaches every 6th grade student as part of the middle school’s six-week exploratory program which allows students to explore new subjects and areas of interest.
“I love being able to see every 6th grader and watch them grow over a short period of time,” says Gojo. “It’s fun to see the lightbulbs go off in their heads, hear about their experiences in visiting Japan or their excitement to use what they’ve learned if they visit Japan in the future.”
Japanese is an elective beyond 6th grade. The 7th grade curriculum introduces them to Japanese culture and conversation and 8th graders learn reading and writing.
“We introduce different practice tools such as Kahoot!, a digital learning platform which motivates them through competition,” she explains. “We help them identify how they learn best.”
In her spare time, Gojo spends time with husband, Walter, and their two daughters, Tara, a 7th grader at Mid-Pacific and 9-year-old Emmy who attends Aina Haina Elementary School. The Gojo family enjoys playing softball and traveling to Japan.