In August 2019, Mark and Hannah Bailey will begin their first year as international educators! They have sold their home, and they are packing up their infant and their toddler and heading to the American School of Kuwait. Are they in their right minds? Absolutely. With the help of Search Associates (SEARCH), they have actually undergone a thorough and practical process to secure wonderful new positions. The Baileys explain,
There is no right time to uproot your life and go on an adventure. Look at us: we have two young children and were perfectly content at our current school. But we felt the urge to do something different and took a chance. There is a whole world waiting to be explored and young minds wanting to learn. Be that inspirational teacher who took a chance and broke the mold.
The Baileys believe that their experiences traveling to, living with, and learning from other cultures have shaped them, and they want the same wonderful opportunities for their children. They also crave professional and personal growth. So, after seeing friends and colleagues join the international school community, they thought, Why not us – why not now?
As children, both Hannah and Mark lived an international lifestyle. Hannah’s father worked in oil and gas; Mark’s worked for the airline industry. While Mark traveled extensively across the world with his family, Hannah’s family lived in Jakarta for eight years. There, she was privileged to attend excellent international schools.
All their lives, Mark and Hannah have loved their subject areas. Mark’s passion for people and music led him to a career in music education, specifically teaching and directing choirs. He says,
I believe that music and arts have the ability to deeply impact the lives of our students . . .[What I enjoy most is] getting to know my students, being a part of their lives, and watching them grow both musically and emotionally . . .The most rewarding feeling is having them come back to thank me or to watch them become music educators as well.
A lover of stories, Hannah majored in English in college, and by junior year, switched her aspiration from publisher to professor. Working on her master’s in English, however, she had a realization:
I loved teaching my college freshmen, [but] they already felt ‘molded.’ Instead, I wanted to work with high schoolers, whose lives I could impact more significantly. Although I still love English—and now also Library Science—my favorite part of teaching is my students. They bring me such joy, and knowing I have impacted them fills me with a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
Mark and Hannah first met and became friendly at university. Not until four years later did they date when a mutual friend set them up, when Hannah, a graduate student at Texas Tech University, was visiting Houston for an internship. They later married, and a few years after that, in a moment of serendipity,
position for a choir director opened at the school where Hannah was teaching English. Mark jumped at the opportunity. Hannah and Mark speak, respectively, about life as a teaching couple:
It has been a blessing to work at the same school as Mark! I feel it has brought us closer together, and I look forward to the day when our children will join us by attending the school where we both work.
It has been wonderful being able to serve and pour energy into the same community each day, though it does present some challenges, in particular not bringing work home with us.
The Baileys describe how they pursued their first international jobs. Mark laughs and says that if his wife, the librarian, did not know something already, she would certainly know how to find out. Indeed, Hannah found Search Associates!
Because we were new to it, the international job search experience was challenging, in particular the interview process and the varying hours—early a.m. and late p.m.—when the interviews took place. Help and encouragement came from our Search Associates Susan and John Ritter. They were absolutely incredible in providing pertinent information, as well as support and encouragement. . . We could not have done this without [them.]
The Baileys checked the SEARCH website daily for new job openings, contacting administrators, and learning more about potential schools. The information on the packages offered as well as childcare information was very helpful. They also found APLi to be a helpful tool and wished every school would use it.
Prior to making their decision, Hannah and Mark received multiple offers and carefully researched each school, country, benefits package, and child-care options. The information and resources on each school’s Search Associate page was quite helpful. Additionally, the schools with which they interviewed were very forthcoming about the realities of the country, community, living expenses, and culture they would be joining.
The Baileys made the “right choice” when they weighed the pros and cons of each situation, but most importantly, considered what was best for their family of four. Teaching abroad is a dream come true. Next year, Hannah will be teaching high school English and Mark will be the Director of Choirs and Chair of Fine Arts at the American School of Kuwait. So, if you are considering pursuing teaching in an international school, the Baileys exclaim,
Go for it! Don’t wait for the ‘right time.’