TeachingMatthew Cook is an educational policy writer, and currently a senior staff member of the Osaka Prefectural Board of Education, in Japan.

Matthew Cook was raised in Danville VA, and had an exceptional interest in reading and learning at an early age, as well as a passion for sports and being active.

Matthew’s parents enrolled him in karate lessons when he was six years old, and he soon became active in other sports and skills. His experience doing martial arts led him to a successful tenure as a competitive wrestler in both high school and college, at Virginia Tech. During a university internship, Matthew began teaching martial arts classes at a local gym. It was through leading classes of students ranging in ages from children to senior citizens, that he realized martial arts was not his main passion, but rather teaching was.

Matthew was inspired by his students successes, and this motivated him to start running his own martial arts school. He was often lauded by his students for his ability to convey information and explain points to others in a concise and simple manner. After 4 years, he moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to take his teaching to a broader stage.

During this time, he extensively studied the history of karate and Bushido, to the point that he felt he needed to go and see for himself where this amazing history was born and handed down generation after generation. In 2007, he was accepted as a participant in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, and began Japan teaching English to Junior high school students.

For 5 years, Matthew worked in a public junior high school in Daito City, Osaka, but teaching English to elementary and junior high school students. Matthew has also served as a Regional Advisor to other JET Programme participants in Osaka prefecture, often presenting workshops on pedagogy, technology in the classroom, and classroom management.

In 2011, Matthew was elected to serve as a national representative of JET Programme participants for the Association for Japan Exchange and Teaching, as its Chairman and CEO. In this position, Matthew began to engage the government ministries MEXT, CLAIR, MOFA, and MIC, as well as JET alumni associations, international corporations, and news media about the value of the Programme and internationalization.

After JET, in 2012, Matthew was hired by the Osaka Prefectural Board of Education, to be their Native English Teacher (NET) Program Coordinator. During this time, he got the opportunity to develop iPad curriculum and train teachers at the high school level.

In May 2013, the Osaka Prefectural Board of Education hired Matthew as a senior staff member, and appointed him to the English Education Reform Project. As far as anyone knows, Matthew is the first foreigner to be hired as a senior level staff member in a Japanese government office. From April 2014, he was appointed to the special, new Education Innovation Group. In this role, Matthew is working to reform education and English-language education for approximately 1,000,000 children in Osaka Prefecture’s school system.

In his spare time, he loves practicing and teaching karate under one of the highest ranked sensei of traditional karate-do in the world. Matthew has also become heavily involved in learning the the traditional way of bushido (samurai arts), through being active in an iai-do association, which is the art of drawing and handling the katana (traditional Japanese sword)


Resume and Experience

Senior Manager (主査)osaka-gold
Osaka Prefectural Board of Education – General Affairs Division, Education Innovation Group
April 2014 – Present (1 month) Osaka prefecture, Osaka city, Japan
The first foreign national hired as a full-time senior staff member in a Japanese government office.
Part of a 4 member team tasked with project development and policy reform within the Board of Education.
In addition to overseeing the implementation of initiatives developed by the English Reformation Project Team, current projects include:

  • Administration of TOEFL iBT courses in Osaka’s top high schools
  • Development of extensive reading programs in pilot schools throughout Osaka prefectural junior high schools.
  • Support, training and development of elementary school English programs.
  • Serving as liaison between Osaka Prefectural board of education outside foreign entities ( foreign universities, government officials, media, etc.)
  • Supporting and facilitating the implementation of ICT/tablet computers in high schools
  • Tackling key issues for prefectural students, such as bullying/ijime
  • Analyzing best methods for vitalization of classrooms, improving in-class experience

Senior Manager (主査)osaka-gold
Osaka Prefectural Board of Education – Educational Promotion Office, English Reform Project Team
May 2013 – March 2014 (11 months) Osaka prefecture, Osaka city, Japan
The first foreign national to be appointed as a full-time senior staff member in a Japanese government office, and the youngest senior staff member of the Osaka Prefectural Board of Education. 

Contributed to the reformation of English education in Osaka Prefecture. The reach of these reform plans spanned from elementary to senior high schools.

This included broad-scale research and development, and planning for a 1.6 million dollar budget that was granted by the Osaka Prefectural Assembly for the creation of new curricula for an English literacy program using phonics, and the first large scale extensive reading program in Japanese public schools.

The ultimate goal of this reformational planning was for students to be able to score 80+ on TOEFL iBT exams upon graduation, after preparation from new courses introduced in the curricula for students in English majors at the top high schools in Osaka prefecture.

Actualization of these goals required sourcing the best content and methods available, as well as designing professional development and training courses for teachers, in conjunction with directing the hiring processes of teachers.

Native English Teacher Coordinator
Osaka Prefectural Government
September 2012-May 2013 (Osaka, Japan)

  • Advises Native English Teachers
  • Assists with message content and quality control for promotional material and correspondence for official documents
  • Gives advice and counsel regarding English language education for the prefecture
  • Trains and speaks at seminars and other workshops to enhance NET professional development
  • Coordinates and plans prefectural seminar/conferences for staff development

English Teacher
Yuhigaoka High School
September 2012 – March 2013, Osaka, Japan

      • Oversees prefectural English Frontier Program implementation at YGHS
      • Advises teachers on education methodology and pedagogy practice
      • Chief Architect of iPad program, as well as, technology implementation & deployment supervisor and trainer
      • Leads workshops for staff development
      • Works on internationalization and cultural initiatives regarding study abroad and advising on the International Exchange Committee

The Association for Japan Exchange and Teaching (AJET)
May 2011 – May 2012 (1 year) Osaka, Japan

The Association for Japan Exchange and Teaching is an internationally recognized, government relations organization of over 4,500 professionals in Japan, and over 55,000 alumni worldwide.

      • Represented JET Programme participants to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations, and the Ministry of Internal Communication.
      • Oversaw all business matters pertaining to AJET.
      • Coordinated and supervised research reports to help with the effective administration of the JET Programme.
      • Engaged government ministries, foreign diplomats, and local authorities on a variety of education policy issues.

Education Specialist and Trainerjet
Japan Exchange and Teaching Program(me) (JET)
July 2007 – July 2012 (5 years) Osaka, Japan

      • Developed and implemented unique junior high school curriculum centered around natural language acquisition through phonics.
      • Increased student engagement through the integration of technology into ESL classes.
      • Tracked student records for progress and achievements.
      • Designed training and evaluation system for Assistant Language Teachers.
      • Supported first-year teachers and university student-teachers through training in ESL, classroom management, and the use of technology.
      • Designed and oversaw the implementation of Regional Advisor system in order to ensure a smooth transition for new employees into their contracting organizations.

Managing Director
The Martial Way
January 2000 – July 2007 (7 years 7 months) Virginia, USA

      • Managed sales, memberships, and inventory for a martial arts program of over 100 regular students.
      • Provided unique, authentic lessons in the traditional martial arts of Japan and Korea, for students ranging in age from kindergarten to senior citizens.
      • Developed cross promotional initiatives between the program and local businesses.
      • Conducted a variety of demonstrations and speeches for local organizations, (including university half-time shows, special community events, and public schools).
      • Organized events aimed at integrating Martial Arts learning opportunities into the community.
      • Initiated and instructed self-defense and personal safety courses for women.



AJET – iConnect
Apple App Store
April 20, 2012
Authors: Matthew Cook, Kevin Mitchell, Cailin Arena, Rob Maxwell
This application was designed to make life in Japan easier and less stressful. Created with JET Programme participants in mind, but useful for any Englishspeaking, foreign national living in Japan.

Spring 2012 General Activities Report
Association for Japan Exchange and Teaching
July 9, 2012
Within this report, AJET outlines the vision that the council, under Matthew Cook’s leadership had, in moving AJET forward and reviewed the exclusive opportunities created for JETs during 2011-2012. Outlined within are the activities, during that year, in which AJET worked hard to create a foundation for a secure financial future through new and more meaningful relationships with organisations who can benefit JETs, as well as strengthen our relationships with CLAIR and the Three Ministries as well as other government-related organisations.

Foreign Language Activities at the Elementary School Level
Association for Japan Exchange and Teaching
December 20, 2011
In April of 2011, elementary schools nationwide saw the implementation of the Revised Course of Study (Shin Gakusho Shido Yoryo) authored by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) requiring 35 hours of foreign language study under the newly-established Foreign Language Activities (Gaikokugo Katsudo) curriculum standard. Currently, a significant number of JET Programme participants, both Assistant Language
Teachers (ALTs) and Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs), participate in team teaching at elementary schools. The need for collaborative classroom instruction by native speakers is expected to rise, and with it, the number of JET Programme participants active in elementary schools, as foreign language education at the elementary level continues to develop. As such, it is important to understand the current state of JET Programme participants’ instructional support at elementary schools. The major aim of this report is to assess the status of foreign language activities at the elementary school level from the viewpoint of the JET Programme participants themselves and to analyse issues therein.
In particular, the following areas will be addressed:

      1. Cooperation and coordination between JET Programme participants and elementary school faculty
      2. The role of the JET Programme participant during Foreign Language Activities class
      3. The supplementary teaching materials for Foreign Language Activities (English Notebook [Eigo Noto])
      4. JET participants’ views on foreign language activities at the elementary level

Contributing Editor
AJET Connect Magazine
(August 2011-May 2012) Contributing Editor and Monthly Columnist:
Oversaw direction, managed content, and wrote a monthly introduction column for magazine, while serving as CEO and Chair of Association for Japan Exchange and Teaching.

International Perspectives Columnist
Itosu-kai Karate Quarterly Magazine
(2012-Present) Writes a continuing column in the quarterly, Japan-based, Itosu style karate quarterly magazine. As the only foreign columnist, writes on topics to give foreign perspectives and experiences to Japanese readers across the country on world events, business practices in martial arts, internationalization etc.
The articles are printed in English and Japanese, side-by-side.


Volunteering and Public Service

Regional Advisor Program Manager
International Relations Division of Osaka Prefectural Government
July 2011 – July 2012 (1 year 1 month)
Designed and oversaw the implementation of Regional Advisor system in order to ensure a smooth transition for new employees into their contracting organizations.

Conducted professional development seminars on ESL, lesson planning, Japanese culture, workplace integration, designing activities for junior high school and elementary school, team-teaching fundamentals, motivating students, and integrating technology into the classroom.

Earthquake Relief Fund Committee member
JET Alumni Association of America

Advisory Board Member
Smile Kids Japan
March 2011 – Present (2 years 1 month)
Smile Kids Japan is a small non-profit group. Aims are to:

  • Promote awareness of orphanages across Japan, especially amongst theforeign communities.
  • Encourage these communities to set up regular volunteer visits.
  • Help show these volunteers how this is possible, with hints, tips, and an overview of everything from setting up the first meeting to keeping up volunteer motivation.

Assistant Coach
Osaka Kyoiku University Karate Team
Assist with training and instruction of traditional karate and help to strategize for contemporary karate competition

Karate Instructor
Minami Oe Elementary School
Instruct Japanese elementary school students in traditional karate

Contributing Editor: Current Events/Politics, Connect Magazine
The Association for Japan Exchange and Teaching (AJET)
May 2011 – May 2012 (1 year)


Presentations and Workshops

Presenter, “Integration in the Workplace,” Osaka JET Orientation
August 2008

Presenter, “Motivating Students,” Osaka Prefecture JET Skills Development Seminar
November 2008

Presenter, “Lesson Planning,” Osaka JET Orientation
August 2009

Presenter “Classroom Activities and Games,” Osaka Prefecture Skills Development Seminar
December 2009

Presenter, “Life at School,” Osaka JET Orientation
August 2010

Presenter, “Lesson Planning and Controlling the Classroom,” Osaka Prefecture JET Skills Development Seminar
December 2010

Presenter, “Motivating Students and Fun in the Classroom,” Osaka Prefecture Skills Development Seminar
December 2010

Keynote Speaker, “Team Teaching Fundamentals,” Osaka Prefecture Skills Development Conference (JHS, Elementary)
December 2010

Keynote Speaker, “Team Teaching, Life at School, and Integration in the Workplace,” Osaka JET Orientation
August 2011

Presenter, “Martial Arts and Japanese Culture,” Uno-sensei’s English Circle

Presenter, “Tohoku Disasters and Response,” Uno Sensei’s English Circle

Presenter, “English Education in Public Schools,” Uno Sensei’s English Circle

Presenter, “iPads in the Classroom,” Japan Association of Language Teachers (JALT) Computer Assisted Language Learning National Conference
May 2012

Keynote Speaker, “Team Teaching, Life at School, and Integration in the Workplace,” Osaka JET Orientation
August 2012

Speaker, “iPad Orientation for Teacher”, Teacher Training Workshop, Yuhigaoka High School
October 2012

Speaker, “iPad Deployment and Implementation”, Teacher Training Workshop, Matsubara High School
December 2012

Keynote Speaker, “Introducing Cooperative Learning to Classrooms”, Osaka Prefectural Education Center Teacher Training Workshop
January 2013

Keynote Speaker, “Teaching in Osaka Senior High Schools”, Osaka Prefectural Board of Education TNET Teacher Training Workshop
May 2013

Presenter, “Cooperative Learning and the MEXT Course of Study”, JALT PANSIG National Conference
May 2013

Keynote Speaker, “Tech Talk – How to Use iPads in Class”, Jin-Ai University, Fukui, Prefecture Professional Development Workshop
June 2013

Orientation Coordinator & Speaker, “Primary Education and Lesson Planning,” Osaka Prefectural JET Orientation
August 2013

Orientation Coordinator & Speaker, “Cooperative Learning and the MEXT Course of Study”, Osaka Prefectural NET Program Orientation
August 2013


Education and Certifications

Virginia Tech
Bachelor’s, Human Nutrition, Foods & Exercise
Club: VT Wrestling Team 1997, Student Athletic Trainer for VT Women’s Sports 2001

Renshinkai Association of Iaidoka
August 2011
Two time winner of Taikaisho Prize 2011 and 2012


References and Recommendations

Steven HorowitzMatt has, without exaggeration, taken AJET and the image of the JET Programme to an entirely new level. Matt’s vision and follow-through and his ability to generate confidence in his ideas and relationships to support his goals have turned AJET into an organization that has successfully strengthened member recruiting and support as well as giving a strong, clear and self-aware voice to the JET community at an absolutely crucial time. He works with great purpose and seizes key opportunities while remaining open to ideas from others and finding effective ways to collaborate with all potential stakeholders. Additionally, thanks to Matt’s initiative and desire, we have been able to achieve far greater levels of collaboration between AJET and the JET alumni community than ever previously existed. And as a result of Matt’s efforts, these ties will only continue to grow stronger. He was the right person to come along at just the right time, and the JET and JET alumni communities are and will be the beneficiaries of his work for years to come.

Steven Horowitz, Content Developer, Social Media Consultant & Community Builder

Steven HerderUnder Matthew’s leadership, the AJET name and profile has grown significantly in the past year. AJET is now on the radar of teachers all over Japan as well as in the minds of university programs overseas.

Matthew and his team have created a real buzz about a full range of their activities – from their online website and Facebook presence, their online AJET magazine, and their regional professional development training days to their major national conferences.

My own experience working with Matthew was as an invited guest speaker for their regional professional development seminar held in Osaka in December 2011. I was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism of the teachers and the organization overall. With 100 teachers in the session, more than 75 of them acknowledged that they wanted to continue being professional language teachers for their careers.

Soon after the event, I made it clear to Matthew and other organizers that I would be more than happy to have further opportunities to interact with such a keen group of teachers.

I know that all of this positive AJET energy doesn’t just happen: it takes leadership, enthusiasm, organizational skills, vision and more than anything else, determination and hard work. Matthew displays all of those traits in abundance.

Steven Herder, Founding Director, International Teacher Development Institute (iTDi)

Jessyca WilcoxI was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work closely with Matt in his capacity as AJET Chair. Matt was in a leadership position during a particularly difficult time (post Great Japan Earthquake/ Tsunami) and rose to the challenge of the extra stress and pressure. He is diligent and focused and I can always rely on him to drive a project forward knowing that the results will be of the highest quality. He keeps his promises, always delivering on time and remaining accountable for his actions and responsibilities that he’s taken on.

I have found Matt to be sincere and honest in his dealings with others, but with a delightful sense of humor to round it all out. His has an aptitude for reading situations and people which he utilizes in tandem with his ability to gently lead. Matt’s incredible work-ethic, his affable interpersonal skills and his ability to think outside the box, makes him both a highly valued team-member and a natural leader. It was absolutely my pleasure to work with him in the past and I always look forward to working with him on future initiatives because, simply put, things get done well and it’s a joy to interact with him.

Jessyca Wilcox, Country Representative, JETAA USA; JET Programme Coordinator

Sho NakazonoSakai City has two JETs as CIRs (Coordinators for International Relations) and they are playing very important roles in the city hall. As a local government, it is essential to have such human resources and connections with associations like AJET to support and give information to foreign citizens and visitors. Matt, as the chairman of AJET, has been very cooperative and a true partner of our city. One of his achievements is that he has coordinated a program of private English classes for the Fire Bureau of our city. This program is contributing to improving our city’s emergency service for foreigners.

Matt has a great human network, and a wealth of information and experiences as well as a spirit of charity and cooperation. He is definitely the first person to turn to when in need of assistance regarding international relations.

May 10, 2012
Sho Nakazono, Chief Executive Staff, Sakai City Government

Translations for by Ms. Mariko Mukai