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Administration and Staff

Debbie Martin's picture

Debbie Martin

Office Coordinator
26 years administrative experience
At school since: 2014
debbie.martin@pbahi.org
Debbie Martin's picture

Debbie Martin

Office Coordinator
26 years administrative experience
At school since: 2014
debbie.martin@pbahi.org
Prior to coming to PBA, Debbie Martin worked at Midweek Publications, Inc. for twenty-six years in a variety of roles, from mail clerk to administrative duties. After leaving Midweek she served as a health aid for the DOE and worked with students in kindergarten through the twelfth grade. When the office coordinator job opened at PBA, Martin, who has raised three children of her own, jumped at the opportunity: “I enjoy working with high schoolers. With them I never know what’s in store for me for that day. I love watching them grow from that shy freshman to that confident senior. PBA defines the word ‘sangha.’”
Rüdiger Rückmann's picture

Rüdiger Rückmann

Director of Advancement
German Teacher
Syracuse University, dual degree in English/Journalism
Waldorf Foreign Language Teacher Training, Certificate
At school since: 2014
rudiger.ruckmann@pbahi.org
Rüdiger Rückmann's picture

Rüdiger Rückmann

Director of Advancement
German Teacher
Syracuse University, dual degree in English/Journalism
Waldorf Foreign Language Teacher Training, Certificate
At school since: 2014
rudiger.ruckmann@pbahi.org
Rüdiger (Rudy) Rückmann has led Pacific Buddhist Academy’s Advancement Office since he moved to Hawaii with his family in 2014. A former speechwriter for a Japanese Embassy and a tennis writer, Rudy has worked as a Director of Development or Advancement in small, independent schools for 20 years. In his role at PBA, he enjoys the opportunity to connect people to each other and to build bridges between like-minded communities, especially those that serve the advancement of peace and education. A Quaker, Rudy and his family are also members of two Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii temples. Rudy is the coach of PBA’s Run for Peace team composed of students, parents and faculty/staff that takes part in the Honolulu Marathon as a fundraiser for the school. Rudy has finished 22 marathons with a personal best of 3:40.
Reverend Toshiyuki Umitani's picture

Reverend Toshiyuki Umitani

School Chaplain
Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii
At school since: 2014
hqs@honpahi.org
Reverend Toshiyuki Umitani's picture

Reverend Toshiyuki Umitani

School Chaplain
Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii
At school since: 2014
hqs@honpahi.org
Reverend Umitani is an ordained minister of the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha Buddhist denomination. As a minister of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, he has served Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin (2001-2003), Kailua Hongwanji Mission (2004-2005), and Makawao Hongwanji Mission (2006-2011). He currently works at the Hongwanji Headquarters Office as the Executive Assistant to the Bishop where he assists PBA as a liaison for the Hongwanji, Ryukoku Sogo Gakuen, and its affiliated schools in Japan. As a school chaplain, Rev. Umitani provides PBA students with religious guidance mainly through weekly temple services. He enjoys seeing PBA students cultivate the values of peace, harmony, interdependence, and gratitude, and thrive on to be the driving force of the next generation.
Liane Viloria's picture

Liane Viloria

College and Career Counselor
University of Hawai‘I Mānoa, BA, Secondary Education
University of Phoenix, Honolulu, MA, Secondary Education
At school since: 2006
liane.viloria@pbahi.org
Liane Viloria's picture

Liane Viloria

College and Career Counselor
University of Hawai‘I Mānoa, BA, Secondary Education
University of Phoenix, Honolulu, MA, Secondary Education
At school since: 2006
liane.viloria@pbahi.org
Liane Viloria is the College and Career Counselor at Pacific Buddhist Academy. Previously, Liane worked at Pearl City High School as a Career Education instructor and started up the Human Services Academy at Kapolei High School. A news article about Pacific Buddhist Academy prompted Liane to seek employment opportunities and enroll her children at the school. As PBA's College and Career Counselor, Liane works with each student to find the best fit for their schooling or career needs. She firmly believes that active explorations of college and career opportunities will help students make better decisions for their future. Liane fills other roles at the school as well. As the Alumni Coordinator, Liane is rewarded with seeing the students as thriving adults. In addition, she manages special events such as the annual Interfaith Peace Day Service, Lighting Our Way Banquet, and Taiko Festival. Being part of these annual traditions is an exciting part of her job as these events serve as opportunities to  share the mission of Pacific Buddhist Academy. It is the belief in this mission that kept Liane here for the past 11 years!
Blanche Yarnell's picture

Blanche Yarnell

Director of Admissions
University of Phoenix, BS, Health Administration
At school since: 2016
blanche.yarnell@pbahi.org
Blanche Yarnell's picture

Blanche Yarnell

Director of Admissions
University of Phoenix, BS, Health Administration
At school since: 2016
blanche.yarnell@pbahi.org
Blanche Yarnell came to PBA 7 years ago as a part-time administrative assistant to the development office. Within a few short months, Blanche became the full-time office coordinator, teacher, adviser and administrative assistant to the Development Director, Dean of Students and Head of School. After receiving her Bachelor's degree, Blanche ventured from PBA to work at a health care company as an IT Access Management Specialist. But she returned three years later to begin a new tenure as PBA's Director of Admissions.
Patrick Ito's picture

Patrick Ito

Business Manager
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, BBA, Accounting
At school since: 2016
patrick.ito@pbahi.org
Patrick Ito's picture

Patrick Ito

Business Manager
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, BBA, Accounting
At school since: 2016
patrick.ito@pbahi.org
Patrick Ito is a recent hire at PBA and has been welcomed with open arms into the school sangha. He has worked on the business side of several businesses during his career, and  noted that it is “a pleasure working” at PBA. Although he does not have a lot of contact with the students on a day-to-day basis, the ones that he experiences are  enlightening and rewarding. Ito believes that PBA students are “good kids” and they motivate him to provide whatever service necessary to provide a good experience for them. They have changed his outlook on life and given him a younger perspective on things. Ito looks forward to seeing current and future students make their mark on the world.
Josh Hernandez Morse's picture

Josh Hernandez Morse

Head of School
University of Oregon, BA, Anthropology
University of Oregon, MFA, Creative Writing
At school since: 2003
josh.hernandezmorse@pbahi.org
Josh Hernandez Morse's picture

Josh Hernandez Morse

Head of School
University of Oregon, BA, Anthropology
University of Oregon, MFA, Creative Writing
At school since: 2003
josh.hernandezmorse@pbahi.org
Josh Hernandez Morse thinks of Robert Hayden's poem "Those Winter Sundays" when describing the educator's work: "Sundays too my father got up early / and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, / then with cracked hands that ached / from labor in the weekday weather made / banked fires blaze." "It's the unseen, behind-the-scenes activity that makes a school work," he said, "and most of what I value about the job." As a poet, anthropologist, educator and all-around aspirant, Hernandez Morse seeks to create and participate in environments that awaken individuals and heal. "More than any specific thing we teach at PBA, we impart a way to live, I hope. If graduates leave PBA understanding that communities are made things, and as such, can be rendered in ways that promote harmony and improve lives, if we make that learning possible for our students and families, then we have achieved success."

Teacher

Sugiko Tomori's picture

Sugiko Tomori

Japanese Sensei
Math Teacher
University of the Ryukyus, BA, Education
At school since: 2015
sugiko.tomori@pbahi.org
Van Velasco's picture

Van Velasco

Science Teacher
PeaceBridge Project Teacher
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, BA, Zoology
At school since: 2007
van.velasco@pbahi.org
Van Velasco's picture

Van Velasco

Science Teacher
PeaceBridge Project Teacher
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, BA, Zoology
At school since: 2007
van.velasco@pbahi.org
Van Velasco has taught science and peace at PBA since 2007. His Urban Gardening elective allows him to pursue one of his many hobbies while teaching students to reconnect and discover a connection to the land. Prior to teaching at PBA, Velasco worked in University of Hawaii-affiliated labs for ten years doing marine research, HIV/AIDS work, and lecturing. Being at PBA has afforded him creative ways to teach students and engage learners. He has worn many hats over the years, but his favorite thing about PBA is working alongside his students and colleagues to create the school’s unique and caring learning environment.
Joe Udell's picture

Joe Udell

Humanities Teacher
Brandeis University, BA, Politics, minors in Journalism and Latin American Studies
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, MA, American Studies
At school since: 2011
joe.udell@pbahi.org
Joe Udell's picture

Joe Udell

Humanities Teacher
Brandeis University, BA, Politics, minors in Journalism and Latin American Studies
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, MA, American Studies
At school since: 2011
joe.udell@pbahi.org
Joe Udell has taught a variety of classes at PBA, including World History, Popular Culture, Globalization and the Politics of Hawaii, and United States History and Literature. He enjoys the school’s mission of peace because it allows him to craft project-based initiatives that closely examine topics related to race, culture, gender, and class that he believes are crucial to creating a more harmonious society. He is heavily involved with PBA’s exchange program and earned a CELTA certificate from Akcent International House in Prague, Czech Republic, where he taught speakers with a range of English fluency. Udell has also worked as an editor and journalist for over a decade in the radio, television, and newspaper industries. He has traveled extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and Latin America, and has earned multiple awards for his travel writing from the Society of Professional Journalists.
Jay Toyofuku's picture

Jay Toyofuku

Taiko Sensei
University of Hawai‘i Mānoa, BA, Business Management
At school since: 2003
jay.toyofuku@pbahi.org
Jay Toyofuku's picture

Jay Toyofuku

Taiko Sensei
University of Hawai‘i Mānoa, BA, Business Management
At school since: 2003
jay.toyofuku@pbahi.org
Jay Toyofuku has been the first and only taiko instructor at PBA since the school’s inception. After viewing a May Day performance by the Hongwanji Mission School taiko group, former Head of School Pieper Toyama recruited Toyoko to build a taiko program at PBA. Prior to coming to PBA, Toyofuku taught taiko at Hongwanji Mission School in their after school, middle school, and elective programs, in addition to running a shiatsu massage since 1994. He has established one of the premier high school taiko programs in the state, highlighted with an outstanding showcase of student talent at the annual school Taiko Festival. Because of the relatively small size of the school, Toyofuku loves the intimate types of relationships that are established between students and faculty. Having no children of his own, he views his students as his "kids" and feels that they have helped him to slow down his aging process. Working with teens definitely forces him to think from a younger perspective. The desire to maintain the quality of taiko at PBA and to create and grow different aspects of the program keeps him coming back year after year.
Steven James's picture

Steven James

Science TeacherPeaceBridge Project Teacher
PeaceBridge Project Teacher
University of Pittsburgh, B.S., Astrophysics
Air Force Institute, M.S., Electro-Optics
At school since: 2013
steven.p.james@pbahi.org
Steven James's picture

Steven James

Science TeacherPeaceBridge Project Teacher
PeaceBridge Project Teacher
University of Pittsburgh, B.S., Astrophysics
Air Force Institute, M.S., Electro-Optics
At school since: 2013
steven.p.james@pbahi.org
Steven James was born and raised in Eastern Pennsylvania, where he spent his summers on his grandparents’ farm or apprenticing with his father building and repairing homes. Upon graduating from high school he was awarded a full scholarship to the Air Force ROTC program, and was later commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. His first assignment was to the Space Vehicles Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratories, where he worked to develop several ground-based space-based surveillance systems. Dr. James later ended his military service as a program manager and research scientist at the telescope facilities atop Haleakala, Maui. His position there allowed him to work closely with both U.S. Space Command and NASA on a number of space related projects. After leaving the military, Dr. James shifted his education and profession toward the psychology of peace development. During this period, he traveled to Thailand, where he volunteered as a teacher at a novice Buddhist monk secondary school, and worked at an orphanage for disadvantaged Hill Tribes children. He now specializes in educational methods that promote holistic development of compassionate, self-aware, humble, and peace-driven students.
Wayne Takazono's picture

Wayne Takazono

Fine Arts Teacher, Drawing and Painting
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, BFA
At school since: 2006
wayne.takazono@pbahi.org
Wayne Takazono's picture

Wayne Takazono

Fine Arts Teacher, Drawing and Painting
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, BFA
At school since: 2006
wayne.takazono@pbahi.org
Wayne Takazono has been a full-time professional artist for many years and his work can be seen around the island. He has been teaching art for twenty years and says that “becoming the art teacher at PBA was one of the best decisions” he ever made. Takazono enjoys working with teenagers, who he believes are are skillful enough to create amazing artwork. One of his proudest accomplishments happened recently, when a former alumna Lauren Tsai had a solo exhibition at a local gallery. Takazono has been at PBA for over a decade and he treasures the sense of closeness and ‘'ohana that exists between members of the sangha. He cherishes his role of art teacher and looks forward to each year, as the senior class graduates and he sees the new faces of the incoming freshmen.
Loren Otake's picture

Loren Otake

Japanese SenseiPeaceBridge Project Teacher
PeaceBridge Project Teacher
Pacific University, BA, Japanese Language
University of Hawaii-Manoa: MA, Japanese Linguistics
Nagoya Gakuin Daigaku, Certificate
At school since: 2007
loren.otake@pbahi.org
Loren Otake's picture

Loren Otake

Japanese SenseiPeaceBridge Project Teacher
PeaceBridge Project Teacher
Pacific University, BA, Japanese Language
University of Hawaii-Manoa: MA, Japanese Linguistics
Nagoya Gakuin Daigaku, Certificate
At school since: 2007
loren.otake@pbahi.org
After graduating from Iolani School, Loren Otake ended up at Pacific University in Oregon, where he discovered a newfound passion in the Japanese language. He decided to major in the subject and studied abroad at Nagoya Gakuen Daigaku in Aichi Prefecture during his junior year. After graduating from Pacific, Otake again found himself in Japan, this time teaching high school English through the JET program for two years. Experiences like teaching there, joining the local karate dojo, and daily life in the country made him feel like the language and culture were truly becoming a part of him. Shortly after graduating from the University of Hawaii with a Master’s degree in Japanese linguistics, he began working at PBA. He has been here for nine years and enjoys working with high school students because they keep him young and it is never a boring day.
Alan Kubota's picture

Alan Kubota

Fine Arts Teacher, Photography
Indiana University, BA, Biological Sciences
At school since: 2003
alan.kubota@pbahi.org
Kena Heffernan's picture

Kena Heffernan

Math Teacher
Athletic Director
Yale University, BA, Biology
At school since: 2010
kena.heffernan@pbahi.org
Benjamin Bruch's picture

Benjamin Bruch

Humanities Teacher
PeaceBridge Project Teacher
Harvard University, A.B., English and American Literature and Language
Harvard University, Ph.D. and A.M., Celtic Languages and Literatures
At school since: 2014
benjamin.bruch@pbahi.org
Benjamin Bruch's picture

Benjamin Bruch

Humanities Teacher
PeaceBridge Project Teacher
Harvard University, A.B., English and American Literature and Language
Harvard University, Ph.D. and A.M., Celtic Languages and Literatures
At school since: 2014
benjamin.bruch@pbahi.org
Before joining the staff at PBA, Benjamin Bruch was a visiting professor and lecturer at the Universities of Vienna and Bonn in Europe, teaching language, literature, and linguistics courses to undergraduates and graduate students. He has also worked with students in grades 1-12 as a class teacher, music teacher, and ELL teacher at the Waldorf School of Baltimore and at Scattergood Friends School in West Branch, Iowa. Bruch values the way PBA’s sangha embraces diversity and is impressed by the supportive and inclusive atmosphere the school’s staff and students work together to create. As a teacher, Bruch appreciates the freedom the school gives its faculty to design challenging and engaging courses that go beyond the scope of a standard college preparatory curriculum, enabling students to develop their own ideas and express their own viewpoints as they explore fields of study that many young people do not have the opportunity to encounter until they enter college or begin a career.
Marion Yasui's picture

Marion Yasui

Chadō Sensei
Mankato State College, BS, Education
Omotesenke Fushinan, Kyoto Japan, Teaching Certificate
At school since: 2009
marion.yasui@pbahi.org