When Francy Johnson was young and teaching her two step-daughters to read, she had a Eureka moment: This is what I want to do with my life. She returned to school and earned her degree, never imagining that one day she would teach overseas. Her career began in Tempe, Arizona, teaching in a dropout recovery program called The Success Center.
Compelled to understand the Arabic culture and the Muslim faith better after 9/11, Francy started a Global Friendship Project with her high school students in Las Vegas, interacting through emails with students in Kuwait and Egypt. Once the project concluded, Francy traveled to the Middle East to meet the students with whom she’d connected. She says,
“It was a powerful experience. Seeing the Kuwaiti girls with their American flags waving goodbye to me at the airport, I made up my mind to take a few Arabic classes and return one day to teach. A year and a half later, I took a leave of absence and went to Kuwait. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
When Francy applied for her first overseas position in Kuwait, she had no idea what she was doing. She simply sent her resume to a few schools and accepted an offer. She admits,
“It was probably the lowest paying in Kuwait, but I loved my time there. I didn’t know about resources like Search Associates back then.”
Francy landed her next job in Qatar the same way. Only later did a friend, who was job hunting, introduce her to Search Associates. Once she registered, Francy was amazed at the clear picture that Search Associates was able to give about schools around the world. She receives email updates almost daily, and she appreciates the details that searchassociates.com provides about its member schools:
“It’s information that is helpful when making career decisions, such as salary, the amount you can expect to save, and whether housing, utilities, and airfare are included.”
Francy has taught for eight years internationally, at the Universal American School in Kuwait, the Qatar Leadership Academy in Qatar, and currently at the Anglo-American School of Moscow. She has enjoyed a tax-free salary, fully-covered housing and insurance—benefits which have allowed her more funds for travel and entertainment.
In addition to recommending that candidates thoroughly research the countries they are considering—including making a trip there—Francy advises candidates to immerse themselves in the culture and language of their new country. She explains,
“Some of the most rewarding moments of my overseas teaching journey were volunteering at the orphanage in Kuwait, restoring an abandoned beach mosque in Qatar, and working with students in Russia to build schools in Africa.”
Teaching overseas has been extremely rewarding for Francy, both before and after Search Associates. She looks forward to attending a future job fair. Truly an adventurer and philanthropist, with no regrets, Francy says,
“In each country, there was a reason for my being there and something for me to learn.”