Alum Stephanie Cuono – Teaching English…In Japan


Photo courtesy of Stephanie Cuono

HHS 2008 graduate, Stephanie Cuono's place of employment: a school in Toyako-cho, a rural town in northern Japan.

Ruqaiyah ElSaawy, Staff Writer

Despite her current career, Stephanie Cuono had actually planned to work in editing and publishing after college and had never considered teaching. Once she got to college, however, she understood better what the plan for her future should be. Cuono, a Hawthorne High School Class of 2008 graduate, is currently teaching English… in Japan.

Cuono, who graduated from The College of New Jersey with an English major and Japanese minor, was recommended to apply for the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program by one of her Japanese professors. This program sends college graduates to Japan, in order to work with the local Japanese governments and schools. While, according to Cuono, it was a tiresomely long application, it proved worthwhile when she was chosen to be an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) in Toyako-cho, a rural town in northern Japan, to teach in three junior high schools and two elementary schools.

As an ALT, Cuono’s job consists of making up various games and activities to help teach the students and improve their English. In the elementary schools, Cuono leads the students in activities to get them used to the language, while in the junior high schools, Cuono provides the students with 10-15 minute lessons at the start of class to help with English pronunciation and intonation.

Despite working in another country, Cuono claims that, while more difficult than it would have been working in the United States, she has transitioned well, and the Japanese people have been very understanding and patient with her as she learns the culture.

Cuono feels fortunate for the experiences she has received while in Japan, saying, “The Board of Education I work for and all of the people I work with are incredibly kind and helpful, so it’s really been a great experience so far. I was very lucky to have been placed here… For now I’m really happy with where I am and what I’m doing.”

How exciting it is for us back at Hawthorne High School to think about one of our grads having an impact on the lives of so many Japanese children.