In his 17 years of teaching, John Gangi has become an invaluable teacher and candidate. His career path was initially forged from watching role models and pursuing what he loved. John’s parents both were educators on Long Island in New York, but Service was his calling. Only after joining the U.S. Peace Corps and teaching in a university in Jalalabad, Kyrgyzstan did a career in education make sense to him, especially after meeting other international school teachers.
John registered with Search Associates (SEARCH) right from the start, and from the start, associates were generous with information about schools and the move to certain countries, but in early days, job fairs—John admits—were the most valuable aid to his job search:
Having face-to-face interviews with prospective schools was very important to me. Moreover, I had interviews with schools in countries I had not considered. The interviews and presentations that schools offered at the fairs did have an impact—for good or for bad—in my choices. The position I took at International School of Tanganyika, though unplanned, was a pleasant surprise. Furthermore, it was an amazing experience in the end.
Through SEARCH, John has landed positions both outside and through three Bangkok fairs. His first IB teaching job took him to Hong Kong at Victoria Shanghai Academy, his second appointment was at the International School of Tanganika before moving on to the United Nations International School (UNIS) Hanoi—where, incidentally, he met his wife. John describes one of the many joys of teaching abroad:
International schools are as diverse as it gets. A rich population of cultures, languages, and experiences all under one school makes each day so interesting. This diversity allows us to focus curriculum more on global issues and concepts that everyone is concerned with, whereas in the U.S. the education is more American-centric.
John began teaching with a background in Social Studies, but with a relentless desire to grow personally and professionally—and, we dare say, a great deal of fortitude—he began teaching International Baccalaureate (IB) Economics, IB Business and Management, and IB Theory of Knowledge, along with more traditional Social Studies within the Middle Years Programme’s Individuals and Societies course. He explains,
I have been in countless workshops and put in my time to feel comfortable in these areas and have enjoyed growing as an educator. However, in terms of teaching positions, it has made me a more viable candidate.
John did not want to leave his devotion to service work behind, however. Ten years ago, this incredibly busy teacher made a commitment to himself: to play a more active role in service action/community service within the schools he was teaching. Since then, John has worked with students and colleagues to develop social enterprises that have not only made positive impacts on the community but also on both students’ and his own learning. He recalls that six years ago, when it came time to seek a new overseas teaching position, SEARCH was there to suggest the perfect match:
Senior Associate John Ritter helped me most with this as he knew what NIST International School was looking for in regards to experience with Service, which is an area of passion for me as an educator.
Thus, six years ago, under the guidance of teacher John Gangi, NIST International School in Thailand began to develop and sell their own brand of coffee, FairNIST Coffee. And they are still going strong! They work directly with two farmers and a roaster to bring a great product to their school community while reinvesting the proceeds into their farmers’ farms and their hilltribe community.
The school, the students, and FairNIST Coffee are not the only elements bonding John Gangi to Thailand. His wife is Thai, and now they have a one-year-old, who, John says, “will eventually attend NIST!”
John has taught us at SEARCH: Don’t forget to do what you love; the youth you inspire will love you for it! To prospective international educators, he offers advice based on all that he has accomplished:
As a teacher, expand your horizons. . . Having a range of experience helps. Just because you have not worked in a particular area in education doesn’t mean you cannot. Being a lifelong learner comes with the job; the more willing you are to take that on and explore new ways of teaching—new subjects, service action, etc.—the more likely you will be a match for a school.