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Alum Marla Starr Hall (MED ’04) on Teaching in Japan

Marla Hall's Students

Marla Hall and her students

Ten years ago Marla moved to Japan and her great adventure began.  She moved to Japan after teaching at NSSED for a few years.  Here is her story.

“The Japanese school system is quite different than the US, especially in terms of special ed.  I am currently teaching at a wonderful little international school.  We are an alternative school for children with disabilities and any other child who just doesn’t fit in anywhere else.  We have such an interesting mix.  With only 35 kids, our school is a bit more like a family than a school.  In the summers I have been teaching in other places — Germany, Nepal, Tanzania and Mongolia.  The world is a fascinating place.

The last three years I have been leading a Japan-wide network of special educators.  Because we are somewhat isolated by our status as foreigners, it is important for us to have a network where we can connect with colleagues.  Most international schools have only one, or at most two, special education teachers.  The experience has made me want to expand my leadership opportunities, and it has made me want to use my experiences to influence positive change on a wider scale.  So many international schools are still very exclusive, because they think that having students with any kind of disability will compromise their program.  I have also seen how great the need is in developing countries for well-trained teachers (in Tanzania I was teaching the teachers how to write numbers to 100!)”