Meet Our Leading Teachers
Your Child’s Success Is Our Success
Miwako Sakabayashi, Founder
Lovingly known as Sensei Miwako (‘sensei’ means ‘teacher’ in Japanese), Miwako grew up in her native country of Japan with the Abacus. When she first put her hand to a heavenly bead at age 7, her path was set. At the age of 12, she placed third in Japan’s National Abacus Competition, and her Abacus math accomplishments as an adult garnered a prestigious position in Japan’s banking industry.
She came to the U.S. in 1992 and settled in Oregon. With her love of the Abacus and a passion for working with children and teaching, she founded the Japanese Abacus Math School, JAMS, in 2001. For Miwako, there’s no greater sense of accomplishment than seeing a student’s face light up with confidence when they discover their mental calculation abilities and succeed with their class work.
And Miwako is a hands-on person – maybe that’s why she’s so skilled with the Abacus. She’s earned degrees in calligraphy, flower arranging, tea ceremony and sewing kimonos. Beyond the classroom, she still enjoys those activities, as well as getting creative in the kitchen or preparing genuine Japanese cuisine.
Besides opening her own school, Miwako has been working to educate others about abacus throughout the region for 20 years. Her accomplishments include:
- Richmond Elementary School, Portland, Oregon – January 1998 to December 1999
- Woodstock Elementary School, Portland, Oregon – Fall 1999
- 2001 Working on Abacus pilot program for 4th graders along with Dr. Leo Richards, Director, Montana Abacus Institute and Former Professor, University of Southern California
- Saturday Academy 2007
- Children’s Hour Academy May 2007-June 2008
- Village Home (Home School) Fall 2008
- Oregon College of Art and Craft Spring 2009
- Oregon Episcopal School Spring 2009
- Sherwood School District – Summer 2009
- Portland State University – 2009 to present
Mika Comeaux, Parent Coordinator & Assistant Teacher
Mika was born and raised in Japan. She came to the U.S. to attend college and has remained ever since. Throughout her college career, she volunteered tutoring other students and helped educate elementary school students about the Japanese culture. She has long understood the importance of a strong educational foundation.
Over the years, Mika has participated in volunteer activities in the community as well as public school system. Mika has also held the position of assistant instructor at the Japanese Montessori Children’s House before joining JAMS.
Mika always finds it fascinating to watch children adapt and excel with amazing skills in their own way, and looks forward to helping them to learn and grow. Her favorite part of being a key member of the JAMS team is knowing that she also learns and grows with every student at JAMS.
Mika has a lot of hobbies. She is interested in many areas and always curious and open to trying new things. Children definitely keep her surprised and meeting new people constantly gives her a fresh perspective on life.
Mai Bukres, Assistant Teacher
Mai Bukres is a third-year undergraduate student at Portland State University majoring in International Studies, International Development, along with Economics and a minor in Child/Youth and Family Studies. In the future, she hopes to apply her research with a focus on foreign policy concerning youth. She is also a full-time educator at the Japanese Abacus Math School, teaching children abacus. She grew up in a Japanese-Libyan home in Tigard, Oregon, USA and studied abroad in Japan during high school, which heavily influenced her strong international perspective in academia. And had the opportunity to be an intern for a congressman in Japan over the summer. In her free time, she enjoys playing the violin and has been classically trained since the age of 5.
MR. HUFF, M.S.
Advanced Math Teacher at JAMS
Bryce Huff, or Mr. Huff as students and parents call him, joined JAMS to guide students on their path to becoming great problem solvers! He earned his Master’s degree in teaching with emphasis on academic extracurricular programs from the University of Portland. At JAMS, he works with Intermediate, Pre-Advanced and Advanced students. He helps our students connect Anzan/Abacus skills to classroom math by using individualized standards-based problem-solving curriculum and effective methods.
He naturally adopted Japanese culture while studying Economics at Aoyama Gakuin, while searching for the best bowl of ramen in Tokyo. He’s always been passionate about teaching, whether it was swing dance classes in Southern Oregon, English tutoring in Japan, or Mathematics in the classroom. Mr. Huff finds joy in the accomplishments of his students, and is energized by the excitement of “Aha!” moments.
Aside from being one of JAMS’s most recent math instructors, he is heavily involved in our community. He is a board member of the Oregon Scholastic Chess Federation, and often volunteers with a few of his favorite organizations: FREE GEEK rebuilding computers, Portland Metro STEM Partnership improving access to STEM, and Teacher Leadership Network which addresses educational issues with compassion.
Growing up riding horses in Ashland and biking around Portland Bryce is a native Oregonian. In addition to his love of teaching, Mr. Huff also enjoys playing fetch with his cats, trail running with his dogs, camping, water sports and playing chess.