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Janet Takahashi in the classroomJanet Takahashi first began working with individuals with learning disabilities in a summer educational program at Sonoma State Hospital. The discouraging conditions motivated her to enter the field of special education. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Mills College and a master’s in special education from San Francisco State University. In 1974, Takahashi was hired to work in the Educational Diagnostic Center at De Anza, a pilot program to help adults with disabilities achieve academic goals at the community college level. 

“At the time the whole premise of the program was controversial,” said Takahashi. “Since then research has proven that adults can change and learn at all stages of life.”

For 40 years, Takahashi has taught and advised students with disabilities in the EDC program. She currently teaches basic math skills in transition classes created to move students back into mainstream math classes. Her classes are diverse ethnically, culturally and in the range of disabilities.

“For those I have advised, it is always welcome news to hear they have found their way,” said Takahashi. “Some have contacted to tell me they have become surgeons, plumbers, homemakers, small-business owners and police officers.”

Takahashi has also been a part of many hiring and tenure committees. She participated in writing the original Asian/Pacific American Staff Association bylaws, and has twice taken over as the Executive Head of the EDC when a temporary replacement was needed. In the last several years, Takahashi has been the Disability Support Programs and Services representative on the campus Curriculum Committee.

“Teaching is a two-way dynamic process,” Takahashi said. “I only hope that I have taught my students as much about mathematics as they have taught me about courage, resourcefulness and persistence.”

In her free time, Takahashi participates in various campaigns for both bond measure initiatives and candidates supporting educational improvements. Several years ago, she and other EDC staff and students gathered 7,000 letters as part of a campaign to maintain categorical funding for community colleges. The staff personally delivered the letters to the State Capitol. Takahashi has also run for one of the delegate seats to attend the National Democratic Convention.

Contact: Vanessa Smith
Phone: 408.864.8948

Last Updated: 12/19/14