Senior Lecturer in Japanese Receives National Association Teaching Award

January 3, 2019
Yuko Prefume

Yuko Prefume, Ed.D., senior lecturer in Japanese at Baylor University, was recently honored with the Teacher Award from the American Association of Teachers of Japanese. (Robert Rogers/Baylor University)

Baylor Fellow Yuko Prefume recognized for outstanding teaching by the American Association of Teachers of Japanese

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WACO, Texas (Jan. 3, 2019) - The American Association of Teachers of Japanese has honored Yuko Prefume, Ed.D., senior lecturer in Japanese in Baylor University’s College of Arts & Sciences, with the association’s annual Teacher Award presented at the AATJ Fall National Conference Nov. 16-18 in New Orleans.

The AATJ Teacher Awards recognize outstanding teachers who demonstrate excellence in teaching, advocacy and leadership in Japanese education both locally and regionally.

“I could not have reached where I am without the support from many people I am blessed to have in my life: they are my family, my colleagues from Baylor University as well as the JTAT (Japanese Teachers Association of Texas) and beyond. Most importantly, my current and former students have inspired me and challenged me to be a better teacher,” Prefume said. “I truly appreciate this honor and privilege of being able to serve my students, my school and my community as a Japanese teacher.”

AATJ Teacher Awards are given in two categories: K-12 educators and Community College/College and University educators. Prefume was honored for the rigorous quality of her teaching and guidance of students’ independent projects, as well as for her inspirational contributions to the academy and dedication as a teacher. The award also recognizes leadership in the promotion of the study of Japanese.

Teaching creatively

“Teaching excellence is a way of life for Baylor faculty,” said Christopher Richmann, Ph.D., assistant director of Baylor’s Academy for Teaching and Learning (ATL). “Our students are lucky to have instructors who, like Dr. Prefume, approach teaching with creativity and commitment. An integral part of Baylor’s mission of transformational education is supporting and celebrating the often unsung work of quality teaching.”

Prefume teaches in the department of modern languages and cultures, which prepares students for the challenges and opportunities of global citizenship by fostering both linguistic proficiency and intercultural awareness within a nurturing community of scholars.

Each summer since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011, Prefume has taken students to the towns devastated by the tsunami to engage in community outreach and see transformative learning in action.

“Throughout my career involving such experiences, I have learned that being a Japanese teacher is not only about teaching the language but also helping students to be global citizens, who respect and understand the value of diversity and cultural empathy,” Prefume said. “I am very grateful that Baylor, especially being a Christian institution, allows me to incorporate teaching of such human values to language teaching and learning.”

Baylor Fellows

Prefume is a 2018-2019 member of Baylor Fellows, an ATL program that recognizes outstanding teachers across the disciplines and provides them the opportunity to implement new teaching approaches.

As Baylor Fellows, these faculty members embark on a one-year project to develop and implement activities and assignments in one course each semester as an “incubator” or “lab” classroom. Following best practices of evidence-based scholarship, the Fellows also develop means to assess their projects.

Prefume’s Baylor Fellows initiative involves project-based learning, driven by students who gain skills such as problem solving, collaboration, critical thinking and self-management. The project also is meaningful and important to them and their communities. For example, Prefume said students in the third-year Japanese course created a website to introduce Japanese visitors to Waco’s travel destinations.

“It is a challenging project but turned out wonderfully so far, and we have received some positive feedback,” Prefume said.

The Baylor Fellows program also provides faculty, like Prefume, with a forum in which to share their efforts, collaborate, hold one another accountable and forge interdisciplinary networks through monthly meetings in which Fellows present their projects and progress.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 25 academic departments and seven academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit