Home town and university: Sayler Park, Ohio. I studied Mathematics Education, English Literature, & Gerontology at Miami University (in Oxford, Ohio, NOT University of Miami in Florida. We were a college before Florida was a state!)
Fulbright ETA placement location and year: SMA Muhammadiyah 1, Pontianak, West Borneo, 2013 – 2014.
Current city and job: High School Mathematics & Science Teacher at Yarram Secondary College in Yarram, Australia (Yarram is a Country Town Outside of Melbourne).
Life After Fulbright: After my Fulbright Grant ended, I went home for 2 months in order to apply for and obtain my official working VISA for my current job in Australia. (I attempted to apply for it while in Indonesia, but coordinating paperwork amongst 3 countries is a fairly ugly task.) The school I currently work at is the same school I did my student teaching at during my final year of university, and I am SO thankful that they offered me a full-time position. (One teacher at the school actually held off retiring for 6 months so that I could begin after my Fulbright Grant ended, and I am so grateful for his generosity!) At the school, I teach both Year 9 (Freshman) mathematics and Year 11 (Junior) Chemistry, Physics, and Psychology. The small size of the school has led me to take over multiple science courses, which I greatly enjoy, but the workload can be immensely stressful at times! However despite the amount of planning required, the small class sizes and friendly students make it all worthwhile. Beyond classroom teaching, I currently work as the stage manager of the school production (which is hilariously funny), and like to spend any free time I have wandering the school campus and hanging around with the students! (I tend to get into lots of interesting conversations about Indonesia on Fridays when I wear my Batik shirts to school!)
My time co-teaching in Indonesia taught me many incredible things, but the most valuable trinket of knowledge I learned while teaching in Pontianak was that it’s alright to get to know your students on a personal level. In the U.S., teachers are always taught that you have to have a professional distance between yourself and your students that keeps you from getting too close to their personal lives. However after living in Indonesia, I learned that it’s alright to really invest in your students, get to know them outside of the classroom, and take a greater interest in them beyond just their academic abilities. While I still certainly maintain a level of professionalism with my students, I also believe the personal bonds you can form with the kids you teach goes a long way towards helping them achieve their personal best in the classroom.
I’m unsure where my life is headed, but at the moment I love my job, as well as my geographical closeness to Indonesia! (It’s so easy to get back over to Pontianak and check in on the wonderful stuff Adam and all of my friends in Pontianak are doing with Planet Indonesia!) All I know is I’m thankful for the experience, understanding, and opportunities that Indonesia has provided me. I’ll close with a quote: “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that nobody is here forever. You have to live for the moment, each and every day… the here, the now.” – Simone Elkeles