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2011 Superheroes for Washington families: Karen Kodama

Karen Kodama, Seattle Public SchoolsKaren Kodama, Seattle Public Schools

Karen Kodama wishes she had learned Japanese from her grandmother. It’s a little ironic, given her role as the international education administrator for Seattle Public Schools. Kodama began her career education in 1970 as an elementary school teacher and eventually served as the founding principal of the John Stanford International School. Now, she’s in charge of the expansion of international education in Seattle’s public schools. Inspired by the vision of the late superintendent John Stanford, her goal is to eventually create 12 international schools. Graduates of the schools will have the skills to succeed in the global economy of the future, with cultural competency, academic excellence and fluency in a second language.

“Karen has not only been an advocate for global education, in all of its facets, but also a staunch supporter for such educational opportunities for all children,” says Susie Murphy, Ph.D., the principal of the Beacon Hill International School.

Murphy recalls watching Kodama demonstrate her global citizen skills on a recent trip overseas. “I had the good fortune to travel to China with Karen recently. She represented Seattle Public Schools as our spokesman to the Confucius Institute. She was, indeed, speaking on the global stage. She was eloquent and passionate. Our Chinese hosts were impressed and thrilled.” — KFM

Get to know Karen Kodama...

Personal heroes: My parents, who were my role models for working hard, and the late John Stanford. He was a visionary leader who taught us all to think outside of the box.

Pet peeve: People who are always late.

Best recent read: Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Tony Wagner’s The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need — And What We Can Do About It.

Best way to get kids involved in giving back: Teach children that they can make a difference in the world, locally and globally. Demonstrate different ways of helping. Kids must feel that they can make a difference in the world.

Up Next: Dr. Beth Harvey, pediatrician >>

Flip ahead to meet the rest of our 2011 Superheroes:
Ron Sher, creator of local retail centers
Rebecca Mallos, Attachment and Trauma Specialists
Mike Heinisch, Kent Youth and Family Services
Karen Bryant, The Seattle Storm

Flip back to see previous 2011 Superheroes:
Estela Ortega and Roberto Maestas, El Centro De La Raza
Shandra Benito, Reach Out
Michael Schindler, Operation Military Family
Sebrena and Rena Mateja Burr, Wellspring Family Services
Dan Savage, It Gets Better Project
2011 Superheroes: Home

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