Travis and Shannon Raybold have only just become international educators, but the idea has been cooking for years. When she was young, Shannon's interest was piqued when she learned that parents of her friends had taught overseas. Travis dreamed of joining the Peace Corps after college, but instead, his interest in education led him to a 15-year career in developing curriculum mapping software and training teachers in many schools abroad in how to use it. During his travels, he fell in love with international school environments. Despite not having classroom teaching experience, Travis speaks to the joy of teaching:
"I haven't started… in a classroom yet, but I've been teaching programming to elementary students after school, and what I love most is seeing those moments of connection - when a student suddenly gets a new concept. That excitement and pride is priceless."
One day, when Shannon had accompanied Travis on a trip to instruct teachers at several international schools in Asia, the "crazy idea" of teaching abroad began to materialize into a feasible long-term plan. Without the help of a recruiting agency, Travis knew it would be difficult to find the overseas teaching positions he and Shannon desired. Travis, who is working towards a Master of Curriculum and Instruction at George Mason University, spoke with a colleague, who recommended Search Associates.
The Raybolds used the Search Associates database as their primary job search tool, but after they had researched all of the current schools, they mostly relied on the updated job listings in daily emails for information and guidance. Attending the Search San Francisco Fair, run by their Associate Michael Williams, was crucial to their success. Travis explains:
"My wife and I are not the typical candidates (if there is such a thing), so getting a chance to talk to someone face-to-face and explain our strengths made the difference."
Initially, the Raybolds were disappointed to find only three possible schools matching their desired profile at Search San Francisco. However, attending the schools' presentations gave them more insight into those possibilities. The Raybolds received two offers, which they researched quickly and thoroughly, using the State Department website, other online resources, and personal connections in order to make their decision. As a result, Travis and Shannon accepted teaching positions at Ashagbat International School in Turkmenistan. Travis says of their choice:
"It was certainly not a location we had anticipated going to (Turkmenistan), but it looks like a great school for us to start our adventure."
Travis would like candidates to learn from his and Shannon's experience, and to stay open to new places and new experiences. He adds:
"We heard a number of 'I never thought I'd end up in ____, but I loved it!' stories at the fair, and hope we are well on our way to our own version of that story."