NIS Stories

Meet the Staff: Nina Radcliffe, PYP Coordinator

A teacher is sitting at a table doing an art project with pre-school children.

Our teachers have such interesting backgrounds! Read more about Ms. Nina and how her love of archeology morphed into a love of teaching and how all of her many experiences teaching around the globe benefit the Primary school every day!

What is your role/what do you teach at NIS?

My current role is the PYP coordinator, which means I coordinate the curriculum in the elementary school, and half of my role is teaching. I started the year teaching in the Gr. 3-4 Pod, and now I am teaching in the ELC, supporting the Preschool and Kindergarten.

Tell us about your path to becoming a teacher?

I studied archeology in university because I love history, being outside, and being physical. Archeology was the thing that checked all those boxes, and I adored it! When I was coming to the end of university life, I didn’t know what to do with my degree. I had a job when I was in Gr. 10, working in a primary school, and I really had enjoyed it! My mum very wisely reminded me that I was good with kids. So I investigated and found some great grant opportunities to learn and teach in London, and I went off to become a teacher!

How long have you lived in Japan?

This year is my second year living in Japan. I came here with my family to start the 2020-21 school year. (Editors note: Nina’s husband is a Secondary teacher at NIS, and they have two children in the Primary school!).Family

Where else have you taught? How did that (did those) differ from NIS?

I taught in Central London for two years, then moved to Spain to teach for three years, and in Thailand for 12 years before coming to NIS. Outside of my experience in London, all of those were International Schools. They were all different, but I learned a lot in each location. The last school I taught at in Thailand, though very different from NIS in size and structure, I find it is somewhat similar in that they really valued Professional Development (PD) for staff. I had 12 years of immense learning. But it has been great to be back to a smaller community here at NIS, and we are enjoying Japan.

What’s the best thing about being a teacher?

Spending time with children. That’s it for me…I could spend all day reading with children, playing in the block corner [in the ELC], or running around the field. Being with the children is the best part of my day.

What is one of your passions or interests? What do you do outside of school?

I am a yoga teacher and a trained personal trainer, so fitness is very important to me. Getting certified gave me some flexibility when thinking about needing to care for my mum, who lived with us in Thailand for a bit. [Editors note: Nina volunteers teaching yoga once a week to NIS teachers]. Our family also enjoys winter sports and loves snowboarding and skiing here in Japan.

What’s one thing you’d like your students to really understand?

That they are capable of anything!

What are you reading right now?

I am reading a book called “Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire.” It is written by Akala, a rapper, political commentator, and professor. It is all about race and the impact on the breakdown of the British colonies. I’m also listening to a fictional audiobook called “Thursday Murder Club” by British comedian Richard Osman. And I just finished an education book. I read a lot at once!

What’s your favorite place in Japan? 

Oooh, this is a hard one, but I really like Nozawa Onsen. It’s got a great vibe. 

What’s your favorite food in Japan?

That is hard to answer. I’ve been a vegan for eight years, and it is hard to find vegan food here. I love vegan ramen and vegan gyoza, but it is easier to find in Tokyo. If I had to choose one, it would be ramen.