Yoks Relaxes After 32 Years


Graphics Communications teacher Lane Yokoyama, accompanied by his wife Loree, traveled to Vancouver, WA for the PrintRocks awards ceremony. Yokoyama was surprised with a special presentation at the ceremony, when he was awarded with a trophy and the Printastic Educator award.

The RamPage, Staff

Career Technical Education teacher Lane Yokoyama spent over three decades in the classroom. Over the years, he taught Agriculture Arts, Radford Academic Motivation Program, Industrial Crafts, Math B, Woods, Architectural Drafting, Digital Photography, and Graphics. After 32 years in Hawaii’s Department of Education, Yokoyama is looking forward to relaxing.

He said that he spent years “keeping people motivated, keeping people instructed, entertained, and engaged. Now, I don’t have to think. I can just relax.”

He admits that his decision to retire was difficult because of his passion for his job, and role models in his life.

“I love teaching, and I don’t know what else to do. I’ve done this for so long, it’s what I wake up for. It’s always what I wanted to do since I was a kid,” he said. “My elementary teachers motivated me to be the person I am today. They all had a hand in showing me what good teachers do. Inspire, motivate, critique, help, assist. Even when you did something wrong, they would correct in a nice way and that’s what I tried to do. They scolded me in a way that would make me get better.”

He is quick to credit specific people who influenced the path he chose.

“There are two people who are big reasons I became a teacher. One person is my high school woodshop instructor, Mr. Noboru Miyamoto. He encouraged me to enter all kinds of state Industrial Arts competitions. He fueled my competitive spirit and love for woodworking and carpentry,” Yokoyama said. “The other person is my mom. She is an amazing person. She studied to become a teacher in Colorado. She made me read so many books when I was growing up. Looking back, I think she had to sacrifice her teaching career to be our mom. I am the oldest of three boys in the family, and she was the best teacher we ever had.”

Yokoyama said that it’s been hard to leave the school because he’s leaving his dream job.

“My time at Radford has been wonderful. I love waking up in the morning, and coming to work. It was fun, and I enjoyed every minute. Came in early, and stayed late. It’s because I really enjoy coming. It’s the greatest job on the planet. You get to have fun with the students and to interact with kids who love to be here,” he said. “I had more kids than I could imagine who were here afterschool and on the weekends. They wanted to be here.”

Yokoyama advised what was formerly Vocational Industrial Clubs of America and now known as HawaiiSkillsUSA for over 28 years.

“It was a great opportunity for kids to learn leadership skills, vocational skills, learn appreciation of skills. They had the opportunity to compete against other schools. It was fortunate enough that we kept placing, and at the state level, and at the national level,” he said.

Yokoyama said he is proud of his students and their accomplishments. He always pushed them so they could reach their highest level in the competition, and it showed when they competed at the international level.

“The kids made me look big for a long time. They brought to the school a lot of awards and recognition. It was fun. It was an honor to represent them, their families, and the school. We did it. Not just the state, but at the national, and for a few times, at the international level,” he said. “Let’s just try to do it and see what happens. And, it worked.”

Yokoyama made his surprise announcement to retire in December. While only those close to him knew the truth behind his decision, he revealed that he has a brain condition that is preventing him from continuing at a job he loves.

“It’s painful,” he said. “It’s putting pressure on my head, causing headaches, and forgetfulness.”

He was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. Also known as water in the brain, the buildup of fluid causes him severe headaches and even a change in his walk.

“Some people think I have a leg or hip injury,” he said. He admitted that he wasn’t even aware of how he was walking. “It’s the communication from the brain to the rest of my body. My gait’s off.”

He was diagnosed eight years ago, after hitting his head on an open staircase at home. The hit caused a massive headache that wouldn’t go away.

“I went to the doctor and he did a MRI and said that something was wrong. That’s when they saw hydrocephalus,” he said. “According to the doctors, I’ve had this for a while, but it wasn’t uncovered until they had all this modern medicine. I had a car accident when I was a teenager, and I played football and basketball, so that could have contributed to this. I’ve taken a lot of hits to the head.”

Yokoyama believes that his condition was brought on by a head injury. He recalls a car accident during high school that may have caused his condition.

“I was in a band and coming home from practice. I was going home and I got hit,” he said. The next thing he remembers was waking up in the hospital.

Yokoyama said that it really does not matter when it really started.

“I have it, and have been dealing with it for a long time,” he said. “My wife Loree has been there for me  at many of my appointments, and of course at home dealing with my medical problem. She is my angel. I thank God for her everyday.”

Yokoyama graduated from Honolulu Community College and was a carpenter for awhile, before continuing on at the University of Hawaii. He worked on the side, as a wedding photographer, and that is where he met his wife.

“She was a bridesmaid, and out of focus, so, I had to retake the pictures,” he said, with a smile.

His teaching career started at the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind. But, his first Department of Education job was at Kealakehe Intermediate School teaching Basic Practical Arts.

He said he was only on the Big Island for one semester. “The principal picked me up from the graduation line. I was excited because I didn’t know anything better.”

Yokoyama said that he is looking forward to a well-deserved break. But, so far, he is still cleaning out years of paraphernalia he’s collected in his classroom. He avoids interrupting classes while they’re in session, so he returns to 0-202 after school hours. While he was in school one day, he noticed that some of the students left something on his office door.

“Students from different periods left a thank you note,” he said.

“I will miss my students the most, working with the kids who want to work, who want to suck up like a sponge, who want information. Over the years, there have been kids who wanted more out of me. They came to the classroom to soak up all the information that I had to give them,” he said. “My two boys like SpongeBob, and people like yellow. The computer lab room [in the Graphics room] is painted yellow.”

Yokoyama said that he wants to send to give a big thank you to all of Radford teachers, staff, administration, and especially the school’s students.

“I tried my best to impart knowledge and prepare them to be great problem solvers and critical thinkers. It is has hard to let go of something I loved to do everyday, but my mind and body just won’t let me anymore,” he said. “Physically, I can’t continue.”