It’s June, and Melanie Dickerson feels buoyant after taking part in this year’s Graduation. It has been rewarding witnessing how much her students have grown over the years. After more than two decades teaching English in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years and Diploma Programme, Mel continues to feel fulfilled. She says,
“I always wanted to have a career where I would be faced with new challenges and opportunities each day, and I think teaching is a good fit for that. You never really know what the day will bring.”
Melanie’s career began over twenty years ago when she completed her English Language and Literature training in the U.K. She immediately set out to see the world by scanning the international section of the weekly TES Educational Supplement. For her first overseas teaching position, Mel applied directly to Greensteds International School, in Nakuru, Kenya and was hired, following an interview in London. Kenya proved to be most rewarding, especially since Melanie met and married Chris Dickerson, a South African who was Director of Sports at the time. Together, they moved to Buenos Aires for their next appointment at St. George’s College North, which they had secured, in part, by word of mouth! Melanie explains,
“My partner (now husband) had met a number of the staff at the school when he went there to attend a friend’s wedding. We heard there was a vacancy and applied.”
Though Chris became Director of Sports in Argentina, his diverse skills have scored him different positions. He taught English in Mumbai when he and Mel took a six-month cover placement at the Ecole Mondiale World School, and he has been a language acquisition teacher as well as Senior School Deputy Principal in Chiang Mai. For the Dickersons’ next overseas posting, Chris will return to the classroom full-time as a teacher of English acquisition.
Melanie can hardly remember how she first heard of Search Associates, so long ago it was! But with the help of Search, Mel and Chris landed positions in International Baccalaureate schools first in Mumbai and then at Prem Tinsulanonda International School in Thailand. The Dickersons have spent 12 happy years in Chiang Mai, teaching and starting a family. Last year, when it was time for Mel and Chris to renew their registration with Search Associates, Senior Associate Harry Deelman and his Search partner and wife Margaret helped them determine the best job fair to attend. At the Search Leadership Fair in Bangkok, Harry and Margaret gave “invaluable” advice on the most suitable schools with which to interview. Melanie says, “We really appreciated their expertise and knowledge of us and our situation.” Because a head of school had reached out to the Dickersons prior to the fair, they arrived having done their research. Melanie details,
“Initially we used the information on the Search Associates site, and then on the Fair Portal. Subsequent to that, I checked YouTube videos! As this is our first move as a family, we decided to fly to the school for a long weekend to see what it was like. This was a great idea and made us all feel much more confident in our move.”
That’s right! After Jasmine (almost eight) and Thomas (nearly five) enjoyed a tester day at Global Jaya School in Jakarta, the whole family agreed that Indonesia would be the next stop on their international adventure. Melanie has never tired of living and teaching abroad. She highly recommends it to teachers considering the international teaching life.
“I have never spoken to a teacher who has worked overseas and regretted it! . . . There is room for risk-taking and trying new ideas, and it’s exciting to keep up with the latest pedagogy and training. . . You will find yourself among like-minded colleagues and will feel refreshed and reinvigorated with every move. It’s a great way to see the world and learn more about its rich cultures and landscapes.”
Time and again, adventurous candidates like Mel and Chris Dickerson have said, “Go for it!” Teaching abroad, especially at Search Associates schools, allows educators and their families the opportunity to thrive in ideal environments.