Ice Treyanurak was made to bust stereotypes. Born and raised in Thailand, he began his development in global citizenship as a child. Until his last years of high school, Ice admits to living an “extremely privileged life” while attending an international school. To finish high school, however, he needed “generous financial aid.” Nothing has held Ice back! Scholarship assistance for all four years at Hamilton College in New York allowed him to earn his bachelor’s degree abroad, and abroad is where Ice found his first job. Inspiration came early to him:
Wonderful teachers made school feel like home. Having had such a great time as a student just made me wonder: what would it be like on the other side of the classroom? So, when I went on to college in the U.S., I looked around for a chance to try it out. . . Given that I enjoy being abroad, immersing myself in a new culture, and—most of all—teaching, looking for an international school position felt natural to me.
Ice’s first teaching experience involved tutoring high school juniors in SAT Prep in the local community. Although he admits to “not being great at it,” his enjoyment of doing it motivated him to take his first job as a biology tutor for his college’s summer program. This led to a position at the school’s library manning the reference desk as Research Tutor. Next, Ice was hired as a teaching fellow at Cushing Academy, a private boarding school in Massachusetts. Cushing then took him on him full-time to teach math, science, and ESL—not to mention STEAM in the summer! Ice reflects,
I loved my time there. We were not technically an international school, but we cherished our many international students.
Ice remained at Cushing for a few years before being accepted into a master’s program at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, his school of choice. However, when the pandemic hit in 2019, he was compelled to defer admission for a year and return to Thailand. Ice was content to take some online courses and wait out the crisis from home, after seven years abroad; his family had endured much in his absence.
But COVID-19 persisted, and Ice could not quell his longing for the classroom. In late February and early March 2021, his mentor suggested that Ice contact Search Associates (SEARCH) for help finding an international teaching position. He explains why SEARCH has been invaluable:
My interviews-per-application ratio doubled after registering with SEARCH. In the short time I got to work with them, John and Susan Ritter traded over a hundred email messages with me. I wouldn’t have my current job without them. I also found that I was not constantly drowning in disgust at the non-English-speaker (NES) style, color-based hiring practices practiced by many non-SEARCH schools. . . Comparatively, it was a breath of fresh air to work with SEARCH schools.
Willing to go anywhere and flexible about what subject he would teach, Ice cast a wide net. He applied for every position at every school for which he felt (even remotely) qualified. Using the SEARCH dashboard “multiple times a day,” Ice found the listing of vacancies very helpful, and he calls the automatic record-keeping and document-delivery system “game-changing.” Ice also believes the APLi portal will enhance the dashboard further. His job search has been bold yet conscientious:
Throughout the process, I maintained constant communication with my mentor and John and Susan Ritter. For each school I wanted to apply to, I wrote notes and gathered information. Then I would spend about a day or more pondering my life there before writing up a cover letter.
Not long after starting his international education job search, Ice landed a temporary post teaching 6th and 7th grade science at Chiang Rai International School for the last quarter of the 2020-21 school year. Then, while teaching from a hotel room adjacent to the school, Ice received notification that he had been hired for his very first, permanent position, teaching math Xi’an Liangjiatan International School (XLIS) in Xi’an, China for the 2021-22 school year. He offers a unique perspective about that leg of his international school journey:
I think the right choice is something you only really find out about with hindsight. . . I knew I was applying late in the season . . . After ensuring that we shared the same vision, then knowing that the school was willing to take a risk with me, I felt XLIS was right enough for me at the time. It is now the shared responsibility of my school and me to keep this decision the right one.
Ice, who has taught in his home country for only two months, believes that international school teachers make the profound decision about where and who they will educate—a thought Ice constantly revisits. As a result of this freedom, he believes that overseas educators “teach anyone and everyone who steps foot into their classroom, to the best of their ability.”
These days, Ice is teaching online (again) while awaiting his visa to go to China. Getting all the documents necessary is taking many months due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, he is aware of the silver lining. COVID-19 has not taken anyone in his immediate family, and it has inadvertently given him and his family time together. Finally, Ice knows that his willingness to uproot his life during a pandemic played a large part in finding a teaching job abroad!