I’ve seen a couple of “Before That…” posts, and they inspired me to try writing one of my own. Check out Mazerly Musing’s slice and Book Dragon’s slice…they are both great!
It’s August 2022, and I’m starting my nineteenth year in education. Where has the time gone? I’m in my third year at Branksome Hall Asia, an international school in Jeju, South Korea, where I’m a Deputy Head of Junior School and PYP Coordinator. I love my job, especially working with teachers to plan learning experiences and assessments and working with students in the classroom.
Before that, it was July 2020 and I was arriving in Korea at the height of the pandemic, excited to get through the mandatory quarantine and start my new job at BHA!
Before that, I was finishing my toughest year ever in education. I was in my third year at ACG School Jakarta, a small international school in South Jakarta, and it was the 2019-2020 school year. I began the year as Head of Primary (only), but picked up the PYP Coordinator role in October, when our school had a large reduction in staff (16 people let go after the first term). A month later, I added Year 6 Teacher to my resume, after one of our teachers suddenly quit. A few more months later, I was in quarantine, teaching online while trying to balance three jobs and an online PYP Exhibition. It was a challenging year.
Before that, I excitedly took up the post of Head of Primary and PYP Coordinator in Jakarta, where I was drawn to the community-like feel of the place.
Before that, I was wrapping up a 6-month stint as a preschool teacher in Bangkok- a stop-gap between two posts that proved to be just what I needed. I’d never taught preschool before, and it was full of adventure!
Before that, I made the toughest professional decision of my life, to leave my school mid-year and break a contract. I was working in Albania as the Head of Primary and after 18 months of strife, verbal abuse from my boss, and unethical decisions at the school, I had to walk away. It nearly broke me.
Before that, I helped start a new school as the founding Head of Primary and PYP Coordinator of Albanian College Tirana. I had the best staff I’ve ever worked with by my side, and while it was really tough, it was also really rewarding.
Before that, I tearfully said goodbye to my staff and students who had become my family at Hong Qiao International School (formerly Rainbow Bridge International School) in Shanghai, where I had been Early Childhood and Elementary Principal for the past two years.
Before that, I took an incredibly scary step into a leadership role for the first time, woefully unprepared for what lie ahead.
Before that, I spent two years at Rainbow Bridge as the Elementary Literacy Coach, a job I pitched and they created for me to do. I had no formal training, but I did have a passion for teaching reading and writing, and I shared that passion with others. It blossomed into something truly amazing.
Before that, I moved halfway across the world to China to teach Grade 3 at this small school inside of the Shanghai Zoo. I had no idea what I was getting myself into or how I would change as an educator and a person, but I wanted to see what it was like.
Before that, I taught Grade 4 in Texas for six years. I loved my students and colleagues, but I craved something more.