Having grown up overseas, Valerie Muckleroy has always wanted to return to the international life. For the last 43 years, however, she has made her home in East Texas. During these years, she successfully home-schooled her six children, Grades K–12 and served as the activities coordinator of the home school community in her region, president of the youth group at her local church, assistant for local Hispanic farmers in need of translation and language acquisition in her community, assistant midwife, and teacher of birthing prep classes! She says quite simply:
I have always enjoyed learning new things and sharing my knowledge with others so I guess that is the key.
Valerie is not joking. At 46, after her divorce, she began her formal education to become a teacher. Four years later, she graduated with honors and began teaching. Her response to working in three public schools in east Texas furthers reveals Valerie’s nature:
The obsession with standardized testing . . . combined with a very high poverty rate . . . causes a great deal of stress . . . but can be very rewarding when you see students rise to the occasion and surprise even themselves.
The plan to teach abroad was always in the back of Valerie’s mind. In fact, over the last 10 years, she has applied to numerous schools around the world, but “the time was evidently not right,” says she. This year, though, Valerie and her youngest daughter—now in her senior year at university—agreed it was the time to make the leap. Nearly 60 now, Valerie Muckleroy is heading to Egypt to teach abroad!
A friend who had worked in Egypt shared his excitement, as well as his connections, with Valerie. Even though she reached out independently to a school there, she wanted some back-up—a better chance of finally leaving the U.S. to teach abroad. Valerie explains why she called us:
Search Associates was the most recommended agency from the people I know directly. . . Through them, I was in contact with so many other teaching opportunities around the world that I had never even considered, so it broadened my horizons and gave me hope that I had never felt before. My associates were kind, thoughtful, and quick to respond to any questions or give me hope when I was feeling overwhelmed. . . It’s the best thing I’ve ever done!
Valerie used the SEARCH website at least four days a week, with a goal to apply to 100 schools! She found herself mainly in the Search Criteria section, looking for schools that fit her particular needs, and she constantly reviewed her emails so as not to repeat applications. In the end, she applied to a mere 78.
It has been a new dawn. At the Cambridge Fair, Valerie met “so many people with like minds and learning more about schools I hadn’t considered.” It was “busy and intense” but “well worth it.” Her plan is to enjoy her new position for five years before definitely attending another job fair where she will reach out to the connections she made with the folks at this one. Valerie also knows how important it is to keep track of strict age limits in different countries and overseas schools.
Her greatest joy has been to help those who might fall through the cracks. She is a powerful role model with strong advice for prospective overseas educators who feel they might not have the right profile:
Don’t be afraid; take a leap of faith. Reach out to others with international teaching experience. Research online; read a blog. Join Search Associates; apply, apply, [apply,] and attend a job fair.
In August 2020, Valerie will start her overseas teaching career at the American International School Egypt, Main Campus. It has been the right fit for her from the beginning, and her first choice after researching the school region, people, religion, and culture extensively. She explains,
Having lived in Iran for six years, I knew that Egypt has much to offer that is similar to my previous experiences, so I felt it would not be such a huge culture shock for me. Plus, the school offers all that I need in their package.
Valerie sees her new life as the perfect case scenario, where she can take what she knows and share it with new people in a new place, “In an effort to make the world a better place, as well as open the eyes for many that are unfamiliar with how the world really is,” says she. She is glad to show others, who have “never left their hometown and are afraid of the world” that it can be done. “Even my leaving is a form of teaching.”