Teaching overseas broadens you. Why don’t you try it? For me it was the most amazing adventure! A place to learn and serve others less fortunate than myself. Before the Islands, we lived in the UK. I left school with just a leaving certificate and a broken family home that wasn’t conducive to further study. At church, I began to take Sunday School as a young teen and found I Love to Teach! But thought it impossible for me because I had left school with nothing.
1986, my husband was commissioned by the British Government to work in the Solomon Islands (SI’s) as Chief Pharmacist. We worked in Islands through the late 80s and early 90s. The”Ethnic Tension”, or civil
unrest, blew up in 1999. I started to help young girls to learn to sew clothing who had left school at the end of Primary with no prospects accept to become a housegirl (cleaner) or marry. Nothing wrong with either accept it may not be what you really want to do. So, I taught the ones I knew to learn a skill. Soon ten girls grew into 100+ men, women and girls. I had a class of twenty per day. It was fun and a wonderful way to get to know people and laugh together.
I was asked to help at a local school one hour per day in the Prep class. Teaching reading, speaking and writing English. This grew, until I was teaching full-time as an unqualified teacher, with 72 kids in the class. How about that? Now I don’t know how I did it. Especially now that I’m qualified – I wouldn’t think to do it now. Here’s a pic of my first class. Aren’t they lovely?
The day one student taught me a lesson
There was one boy – let’s call him Nick, that’s not his real name but it will serve it’s purpose for this story. He just wouldn’t settle to work in class. He was always in some sort of trouble and no matter what I said he would just keep on misbehaving. One day during a language activity, I just happened to catch Nick drawing instead of doing what the rest of the kids were doing. I turned to rebuff him but stopped in my tracks. The drawing was beautiful and I remarked how good it was. Nick, looked at me with a great big massive smile and from that moment he was your A+ student! Nick taught me a very important lesson that day, that I shall never forget.
The Australian teachers at the school noticed a difference in the students’ ability to question and speak in English as they moved up the year levels. They also, saw how much I love to teach and encouraged me to get a teaching degree. So, when we returned to the UK, 1991, I went back to school [Tech] and studied A’level English and O’level Maths. Here in Oz we call it SACE. Two years later, we emigrated to Western Australia, where I trained as a Primary Teacher and taught for several years as a qualified teacher.
Building and setting up a new primary school
While the civil unrest was still a big risk in 2001, the Australian Government was still warning expatriates not to return or visit. But we were invited to return in early 2001. Three years later, we worked with a local Solomon Island church to start a primary school for students who could not afford the high fees of the International School but wanted a good education. That school is ‘BibleWay Emmaus Christian School’ Honiara, SI’s.
After much hesitation and a bit of nudging from our Island friends, I took up the reigns. They had more faith in me than I in myself. I promised to start it but at the end of the year someone else must take on the reigns. The elders of the church agreed but five years later I was still there. Then a Solomon Island Principal who was my Deputy took over Jan 2008 and by Dec 2009 I moved back to Australia.
I love to teach
Back in 2004, I started by teaching the Prep class and added one class at a time each year. Operationally this made the school completely self-sufficient. I trained teachers using an apprenticeship style because I really do love to teach. This love of teaching was taken up by the staff and they all, have this characteristic in their teaching. They now train Student Teachers who are sent to the school by the SI Teachers College. Teaching overseas really broadens you.
The success was measured by the fact that all the students in the first cohort to complete year six were awarded secondary school places. Normally only about one-third of the average year six class would go forward into secondary.
In fact, the whole cohort appeared in the top 10% of the National Year 6 Assessment Exams. The top three places nationally were taken by Emmaus Christian School students that year.
Help us, Help teachers, Help kids
It’s amazing what can be done when we teachers share our resources and what we have learnt over the years. I’m back in Australia now and I still love to teach just as much as I did when Nick came to my first class. Life is good! But, there are many village schools in the Islands with teachers who have to manage on barely anything. Would you like to help us, help these teachers? Then please join us and sign up below, to learn how.