Japanese Language Immersion Faculty - The International School

Japanese Track Faculty


Chisa Terano Chilgren
PreK (3 year olds) Teacher

  • From Nara, Japan
  • Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts at Tezukayama University, Japan
  • Master’s in Curriculum & Instruction at Portland State University
  • Teaching since 2000; teaching at TIS since 2005

I look forward to coming to school every day to spend precious moments with my students. They are my source of energy and smiles! I am very fortunate to be a teacher at TIS where I can passionately share Japanese culture and language, and support young learners to be global citizens. I believe that true learning can happen when children are challenged while having fun in a nurturing environment. It is my goal to create a learning environment that attracts children to be curious learners all day long.

My favorite moment at TIS is when I get to have casual conversations with my former students in Japanese on campus. My young stars always give me delightful surprises by speaking Japanese more fluently and with confidence year by year. What a rewarding profession teaching is!

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Junko O'Neill
LowK (4 year olds) Teacher

  • From Shiga, Japan
  • Bachelor's in English from Kyoto Sangyo University
  • Teaching since 1999; teaching at TIS since 2006

While attending Kyoto Sangyo University, I became interested in bilingual education and the process of learning a second language.  After graduation, I began my career by teaching English to young children in Japan for three years.  I then took a position in Singapore teaching the Shichida Method.  It was a very diverse environment, and I greatly enhanced my knowledge of early childhood education. 

When I moved to Portland three years later, I knew that TIS was the school that I was searching for!  I believe strongly in a full immersion environment as the best way for students to learn a second language.  I am privileged to be able to see the students' everyday growth so closely.  I am constantly thrilled to rediscover the beauty of Japanese language and culture through the eyes of the children.  I am proud to be a member of TIS!

Click here for an article about Junko.


Hideko Forzley
Kindergarten Teacher

  • From Tokyo, Japan
  • Bachelor's in Japanese Literature at Tokyo Kasei Gakuen
  • Teaching since 1998; teaching at TIS 1998 to 2008 and since 2009

I like to have a great time with my students and actually the students teach me something new every day. That is the best thing about teaching for me. Everyone at TIS focuses on the students and on making this a good place for the students to learn. Thank you to the TIS community for everything - I really love teaching here!

Click here for an article about Hideko.


Akiko Grimm
1st grade Teacher

  • From Osaka and Kyoto, Japan
  • Bachelor's from Portland State University in Speech, Communication and Teaching English as a Second Language
  • Teaching since 1988; teaching at TIS since 1996

It has been a wonderful experience to teach at the International School where I can witness young learners absorb new culture and language just like a sponge! My goal is to help students to discover the joy of learning and become active and proactive learners. I believe that children learn best when they are given an opportunity to explore answers through their own five senses. I do my best to foster a fun and stimulating environment that nurtures children’s creativity and curiosity.

It is my pleasure to be a part of young learner's life and help them to enrich their world through language and culture from my native country.


Masami Maruki
2nd/3rd Grade Teacher

  • From Kanagawa, Japan, as well as Peru, Brazil, Japan, and Singapore
  • Bachelor's in Rehabilitation Services at University of Connecticut
  • Master's in Education at Japan Women's University
  • Teaching since 2006; teaching at TIS since 2006

I am proud to be a member of the TIS community, where cultural interactions are always active and fresh. Having lived in different countries in my childhood, I am aware of the great stimulation that different cultures and languages can give in the early stages of life.

Now as a teacher, I am more than thrilled to experience this path of engaging education with my students and their families. By working together with my students, I hope to see the world from their points of view, to grow, and to achieve the best results.

Click here for an article about Masami-sensei.

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Takanori "Taka" Fujii
4th/5th Grade Teacher

  • From Fukuoka, Japan
  • Bachelor's from Soka University in Economics, followed by a teaching license in 1996
  • Teaching since 1996; teaching at TIS since 2009

I taught 1st to 6th grade as a certified Elementary School teacher for ten years in Hokkaido, Japan. Several of my college colleagues told me to "treasure every encounter, for it will never happen again" and this has become my personal motto. I’ve been fortunate to have experienced many of these precious encounters with my students and look forward to working with the parents and staff of TIS to support your child’s educational growth.

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Keiko Buckendahl
Japanese Track Lead Teacher & Japanese Track Marketing Manager

  • From Fukushima ken, Japan
  • Bachelor's in Japanese Literature and Teaching, Japanese Teaching License from Nisyogakusya University
  • Teaching since 1996; teaching at TIS 2006

When a visitor came to see a Japanese prek class, she told me she thought the class was so creative. The teacher was explaining the life cycle of a pumpkin to three-year-old children and showing them a pumpkin she had made. I believe The International School blends the most positive aspects of American-style education with the target language education. In the Japanese Track, this means learning to be creative and disciplined.

When I was growing up, I studied English from middle school to college. When I came to the United States to teach Japanese nine years ago, it was difficult to understand what people said- not only because of the language but also because I was not familiar with the American cultural topics they discussed. Now I see International School students who are bilingual or trilingual from an early age. I am really happy to see their confidence. To immerse students not only in language but also in cultures, makes children world citizens who are accepting and understanding of others.I am so honored to work with a wonderful faculty and staff, students and parents from all over the world.

As the Marketer for the Japanese Track, I would like to invite you to see how our students learn the Japanese culture and language to become confident world citizens.