She was on a different career trajectory working in Human Resources when Jessie Lytton decided to overhaul her life and become a teacher. She put herself back to school while working and commuting to her job. Jessie recalls that entering the public school system was like “stepping into the unknown.” Indeed, it was! At the time, she was unaware that the New York City Department of Education had instituted a giant hiring freeze. Nevertheless, Jessie’s reaction reveals some core qualities of successful international school teachers:
“While saddened by this prospect, I persevered nonetheless and found avenues to weave through in order to jump start my journey as an educator. Doors opened up at a variety of schools that weren’t traditional public schools. I discovered the world of independent schools and charter schools. The experience of working in multiple settings has served to enhance and bring purposeful breadth and depth to my teaching craft.”
Jessie considered herself a world explorer. Traveling with her husband Jeremy not only was a source of joy, but also a source of the global and cultural awareness she would bring into her classroom curriculum and discussions.
Collaboration is central to Jessie’s work and happiness; she loves learning from her students and colleagues every day. She is especially passionate about building positive relationships with her students as individuals and bringing them together collectively as a strong classroom community. She thrives as well in workshops and professional development institutes where she can collaborate, learn from others, and extend her network.
International teaching seemed like a distant dream, but during Jessie’s eighth year of teaching in the States, she had a conversation with a colleague about his time abroad. An experienced international teacher, he was able to guide Jessie on how to get started. She was motivated to seek out others who have been on the international circuit and began to navigate an informed search process. She quickly found out that the timeline for applying to international schools would be much earlier than applying for domestic schools. Jessie also learned it was simply the “logical and natural next step” to register with Search Associates (SEARCH). She explains,
“SEARCH always edged out on top of the list of international recruiting agencies and seemed like the best fit. A special feature is that SEARCH assigns you a dedicated recruiting agent. SEARCH was empirically helpful in the process of scouting an international teaching job. Once you are accepted as a candidate, you have coveted access to position openings from around the world. All of your credentials are packaged together, making it seamless for principals to access your information. SEARCH also helps you stay very organized and informed.”
With the support of her Senior Associate, President/CEO Jessica Magagna a phone call away, Jessie would “spend a big chunk” of her week logging in and launching from the dashboard to research, apply, and check on schools. She says the My Dashboard, My Schools, and My Job Search sections were especially helpful, and that she would also look forward to receiving daily emails that listed current and updated postings. Through her process of research and internet communications, Jessie landed her first overseas teaching position as a First Grade Head Teacher at the Korea International School Jeju (KISJ) for the 2019-2020 school year. She never did get to attend January 2019 Search Cambridge Job Fair!
Jessie says that KISJ built her trust from the beginning. Their helpfulness has made her feel very fortunate to start her life as an international educator with them. The staff has readily communicated at all times via email and Skype–even though they are practically a day ahead of her New York time zone! School staff members made Jessie feel important in the process and continuously answered questions as they arose. KISJ also provided—in a very well-documented Google Drive folder—highly transparent, detailed information about the school and life on the island of Jeju. During Jessie’s time at KISJ, her husband Jeremy Noller— a freelance jazz drummer and music educator— will be traveling throughout Asia, performing concerts, giving master classes to university students, and visiting K-12 schools as a teaching artist on behalf of The Juilliard School.
Seasoned teacher and new international educator Jessie Lytton has this to say to those considering the leap:
“To anyone seriously thinking about and embarking on this process: you will encounter many different reactions from your friends, family, and colleagues—some expected and some unexpected. Whether embarking on this next stage as a teacher on your own, with a partner, or with a family, remember to trust your heart and know who you are.”