For over two decades, Charles Karuri taught in international schools in his home country of Kenya. The special needs educator served in two schools in Nairobi before accepting an appointment as Principal in a third. Charles has also worked closely with private schools in Kenya’s education sector to draft special education programs—all with the goal of helping learners reach their highest potential. Now, with the help of Search Associates (SEARCH), Charles has taken flight and landed in Beijing!
Charles loved teaching in an international school at home while also being surrounded by close family and friends. Of course, school trips in Kenya were incomparable: taking learners to visit a wide range of wild animals and exploring the Great Rift Valley and all sorts of natural phenomena. Now, he is excited about immersing himself in a completely different culture and “the beauty of internationalism.” Charles also believes that teaching abroad will boost his creativity with lesson content, and he cannot wait to reunite with many former colleagues who moved on from Nairobi to international schools in China!
Charles found out about Search Associates (SEARCH) from a former colleague who was relocating to the U.S. He says,
It is an amazing agency with a smooth fluid process and plenty of jobs to choose from. My particular Associate, Xiaohang Sumner, an exceptional individual by all standards…was very helpful due to her quick responses to my questions.
Once registered, Charles used the SEARCH website often, grateful to click on New Vacancies, the most helpful function of the dashboard for him. He also liked being able to reset Priority buttons, which allowed him to show his preferred roles in a target school. Charles stayed in regular contact with Xiaohang and with former colleagues working in schools in his zones of interest. He also attended the SEARCH Beijing Virtual Fair, where he says there was a “wide variety of schools to choose from.” He found that the “extremely useful” fair portal made it easy to schedule interviews despite varying time zones. Charles shares his thoughts on best practice for overseas teaching job searches:
Recruitment fairs appear to offer the most ideal opportunity for candidates to get interviews and follow-ups with schools. I was able to text my interviewers through the portal to ask questions or arrange subsequent interviews. It also made it easy to meet recruiters without having to travel.
I believe that virtual fairs are just as good as the face-to-face one. Direct “cold call” applications to schools—including those with matching vacancies—are not as helpful as recruitment fair interactions. Using the platform, a candidate needs to go to the list of schools attending a fair, meticulously picking out those that are of interest which also seek a teacher of his/her specialist subjects/skillset. This has to be followed up with interview requests to each of those schools. It also helps to attend school presentations during a fair to get a good idea of the schools one might wish to accept.
After plenty of online research on the three schools interested in him, Charles accepted a teaching position in Beijing at a well-resourced, private school with exceptional faculty from all over the world. He considers the school the perfect fit for him in view of its approach to education as well as its values of compassion, justice, respect, wisdom, and honesty. Charles adds,
Meeting the team of interviewers helped me confirm that this was the institution I wanted to work with, for the benefit of as many children as I can possibly impact. They had plenty to share about the many opportunities teachers have to make an impact on learners.
Charles cannot wait to explore the seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites found in Beijing in addition to the many national monuments and museums that he says, “boost one’s appreciation of China’s amazing history.”
Charles first thought of international teaching as a young adult studying for a Bachelor of Education, focusing on special needs. After having experienced his first years teaching in a “vibrant and successful special educational needs department in a large international school,” he decided to pursue a second degree focused on international teaching. Charles was interested in supporting special needs students from a wider array of backgrounds, over 140 nationalities at the time. His graduation from the University of Warwick with a second degree, a Bachelor of Philosophy, led to his first full-time job as a teacher at a fully accredited international school in Nairobi, Kenya. Charles says,
I totally loved my first job in that school, and I have not had a moment of regret teaching in international schools since then. My former pupils work all over the world, in a wide array of professions, making an impact through politics, research, medicine, teaching, engineering, business, the military, and conservation, amongst many others.