From A Kitchen To A Classroom

Jerome Linear and Ganesa Kaira-Souza

Brain Yamagata is the new culinary arts teacher, and is ready to share knowledge with McKinley High School students this school year.
Yamagata had many jobs before coming to McKinley. He was a student activities coordinator at Niu Valley Middle School, and before that for about 12 years he was a 6th grade science teacher at Kawananakoa Middle School, and before that he taught as a 8th grade science teacher at Mililani middle school, before that he worked in the food industry, working in many restaurants around town.
“I want to share my passion for food with students, to get them excited about cooking,” Yamagata said. “I want to help students find what they’re good at and what they’re passionate about,”
Yamagata left the food industry to start a family, and has always wanted to go back to working in kitchens. Yamagata has a wife and three children and this is where he spends most of his free time. He also does all the cooking in the house. Now he is able to share his passion with his students while still being able to provide for a family.
“This was an opportunity for me to, you know, teach what I love doing,” he said.
Yamagata dropped out of the University of Hawaii at Manoa to pursue what he wanted to do, which was cooking. Soon after he transferred to Kapiolani Community College and finally had instructors telling him he was good at cooking. The discipline in the kitchen forced him to grow up and he was soon able to go back to University of Manoa and get his teaching degree. He wasn’t the perfect student throughout his life, but he always had the drive to become something. He learned how to improve and grow when he was working in the kitchen before he came to McKinley.
“I want to help them find what they’re good at and passionate about,”he said. “Once you find something that you’re really good at, something that you’re passionate about then you can do anything with it.”