With over 19 years as an educator (eight years internationally and eleven domestically), Ryan Carey remembers he did not initially consider education as a career until he was attending the University of Colorado, Boulder. Soon after graduatingcum laudewith a degree in anthropology, he realized his drive "to teach, to inspire, and to spark others to think and be curious about the world around them." He also cherished the many summers he spent at a wonderful boy's camp surrounded by terrific role models, all teachers and coaches. Those experiences taught him about flexibility, adaptability, the importance of creating positive environments, the power of encouragement, and the key skill of listening.
The stars aligned when Ryan met his future wife, Amy, the day he graduated from CU. She was preparing to do volunteer work in the fall as a teacher at the Canon Andrea Mwaka School in Dodoma, Tanzania, but visa issues delayed her departure until the following spring. By the time Amy departed for Dodoma, she and Ryan had developed a serious relationship based on a similar outlook and the desire for a meaningful career in education. They wed shortly after.
The Careys wanted to teach overseas immediately, but it was suggested that they teach a few years stateside first to gain a foundation. They soon landed a position at the Verde Valley School (VVS) as a newly married couple hired as dorm parents, teachers, and coaches for a school that, at that time, had only 86 students, grades 9-12.
After three wonderful years, Amy and Ryan decided the time was right to pursue teaching internationally. They had connected with a few international teachers during their time in Tanzania and realized they could be paid well as international educators. They wrote to nearly 30 different schools from around the world, based upon places they thought would be interesting and fascinating to live. They finally accepted positions at the International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL), Malaysia. Ryan remembers:
"[We] went there blindly, based on conversations…When we arrived, we immediately knew we made a terrific choice, and the strong friendships and connections we formed there are still major touchstones in our lives. When you live so far from home, your colleagues truly become your family…and the outpouring of support and love from our 'ISKL family' still astounds us."
A lot changed for the Careys during the 12 years between landing their first positions at ISKL and their third foray into overseas teaching in 2010.
"…at ISKL, we were initiated into and immersed in the international scene; in essence, a whole new world opened up to us. We learned about Search Associates (with its strong reputation), different conferences and fairs and the importance of interpersonal connections and friendships. We gained invaluable insight from colleagues who had literally taught across the world and understood the complicated matrix of compromises and opportunities that you may be confronted with living abroad."
Ryan and Amy returned to the U.S. and accepted a job to teach at Gilman School in Baltimore, MD while raising their family. After eight years flew by and their youngest child was ready for school, they decided the time was right to go abroad once again. Ryan described his positive experience:
"Signing up with Search Associates was the natural choice. Our Associate met with us personally and made sure that we were presenting ourselves accurately. This was significant because it had been eight years since our last international posting. Amy had been at home with our two boys, and we were stepping off into the world again, but this time as a family. This significantly changed our outlook: we were thinking not just professionally, but also personally. This elevated the stakes for finding the right fit, and Search Associates helped bridge that gap."
Again, the couple found another amazing school, Dubai American Academy, which, like ISKL was a "perfect fit." Ryan explained his experience with the Search Associates hiring process:
"As we enter our fourth search, we are extremely comfortable with Search Associates and all they have to offer us. The firm is respected and professionally run, and I believe that this makes a tremendous difference to prospective schools. The continuous updates and listings have also allowed us to be proactive, and by October, we were having significant and serious conversations with schools regarding possible positions. Additionally, the ability to search through possible schools has given us a wealth of knowledge as we continue to refine and direct our search."
When asked what piece of guidance the couple could give new international educators, they relayed,
"Having taught both domestically and internationally, we would say the biggest difference would be the general culture(s) you face, in and outside of class… In the international setting, you may not know all the different cross-cultural backgrounds and histories of your students. [For example] just when you think that this young girl from Minnesota is trying to adjust to living abroad, she leans over and speaks fluent Swedish to her neighbor, who, while also holding a Swedish passport, has never actually lived in Sweden. The breadth of experience and knowledge is also just as varied, yet it may be difficult to find those cultural touchstones amid these global citizens."