After illustrious career, Coyle springs into retirement

Walking to B-Pod in North Penn High School, classrooms mainly encompassing languages like Latin, Spanish, German, and French stick out. Amongst those classrooms, however, is where Japanese teacher Sensei Noriko Coyle resides. She will be leaving B-107 home, but also leaving behind quite the legacy at North Penn.

Coming from working at Sony in Japan in the music industry, then teaching for an engineering firm in Horsham, Coyle arrived at North Penn in 1999. After finding out about the opportunity through her connections, Coyle went on to become the school’s Japanese teacher.

Flash forward to now, 23 years later, Coyle will leave the doors of North Penn one last time in June. When reflecting on her career, Coyle mentioned what she hoped to leave behind: a strong teacher who was there for her students.

“I want to leave behind a legacy of a teacher who was genuine, compassionate, and has done her best. I want my students to carry strong character, kindness, and patience for others because they see it in me. I want to leave a smile on their faces when they think of me,” Coyle said.

For this, there is plenty of evidence that her students loved her. Coyle recalled in 2011, North Penn was cutting programs and considered cutting Japanese from the school’s curriculum. Despite this, her students rallied behind her, gathered as much support as possible, and played a pivotal role in helping Coyle keep Japanese at the high school.

“Many of my students, even some on vacation at that time, stood up for me and fought to save the Japanese program and my position. They went to the school admin, local newspapers, and local radio stations to do so. That experience always motivates me to be strong,” Coyle said.

For efforts of encouraging students to be passionate about what they care about and to lead other students to certain goals, Coyle had been recognized with two awards in her career: one from the American Association of Teachers of Japanese and was named on the Superintendent’s Honor Roll.

For Coyle, it is the people that mattered the most. Coyle said that her students opened her up to a new world that created an environment where she could also learn, and her colleagues in the world language department were always there to support her. Her unique way of teaching stuck with everyone around her and ultimately made her realize what education meant to her.

Her teaching style is often intertwined with her cultural background. As Coyle is Japanese herself, she helped students explore Japanese culture in the classroom, which added a nuanced approach to her already carefully crafted classroom experiences.

“I’ve always shared my real life experiences with authentic materials to connect and engage with my students. Students often have a chance to try something new. It could be, making Japanese food; it could be throwing soybeans to demon – these are a cultural things. Writing haikus, catching real goldfish, you know, all these kinds of things help them learn something new,” Coyle added.

Coyle hopes that experiences like these helped her students view their own lives in different ways and that they will continue to learn a foreign language, whether it is Japanese or not.

“While science, technology, engineering, and math are key skills to success for everyone in today’s world, I seriously think learning a foreign language is very essential, especially when [students] are young. It will change their perspective that they experience other cultures and then you know, they’ll appreciate their own culture a lot more,” Coyle said. “That’s what teaching is all about, creating a better world for your students.”