By BREANA INOSHITA, Florin JACL
When young Katherine Liebert finished university in San Francisco in 1942, she was preparing to enter the work force of a society stuck by war fervor with the constant bombardment of anti-Japanese rhetoric following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
With the face and skin tone of the “good guys,” Katherine probably had several options as to where she would start her career as a grade school teacher; however, Ms. Liebert chose to teach children with faces of the “enemy” when she made the gallant decision to leave her life in San Francisco and teach at the newly opened incarceration camp at Tule Lake.
Ms. Liebert taught a class of 40 fourth-graders at Tule Lake for just one year before marrying her husband, a guard at Tule Lake, and taking on the name of Mrs. Katherine Kirkland.
At 94 years of age, Mrs. Kirkland now resides in a Sacramento area senior care home and is seeking to reconnect with her former students. Earlier this month, a person close to Mrs. Kirkland reached out to the Florin Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) for assistance in the search for Mrs. Kirkland’s former students. The Florin JACL Civil Rights Committee had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Kirkland and hear her recollection, albeit fragmented, of her year teaching at Tule Lake.
Time is definitely of the essence in this search for her former students! The Florin JACL has a list of all fourth-grade students at Tule Lake during the year that Ms. Liebert taught there, but cannot identify which students were in Ms. Liebert’s class without your help
Here are a couple of ways you can help us reconnect Ms. Liebert with her former students:
1) Look over the list of fourth-grade students and see if you recognize any names. A digital version of the list can be accessed at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7Tjl-OSF4pweEdXSDNZRG5seXM/view?usp=sharing
2) If you recognize a name and have a way of contacting the person, ask the person if the name “Ms. Liebert” sounds familiar or if they remember having her as a teacher.
3) Share the list of fourth-grade students with anyone who may recognize a name.
If you find someone who may have had Ms. Liebert as a teacher, please email [email protected] Also, contact me with any other leads you encounter or questions you may have.