Why choose ISB?: Stories from real faculty
When choosing the right school to call home, you may find yourself wondering, “why do I want to teach here?”
To help prospective teachers make this decision, we asked some of our current faculty members to answer this seemingly simple question - Why do I want to teach at ISB?
Why do I want to teach at ISB?
We spoke to a group of faculty and staff from ISB, from a teaching couple who met at the Great Wall, to a passionate educator living the expat life, and asked them to share their experiences and their journey to ISB. Through their stories, we hope you’ll discover any number of reasons to choose ISB to teach.
Amanda Chang, HS Science and Engineering, and Michael Clark, ES Visual Arts, Curriculum Area Leader
For one of ISB’s teaching couples Amanda and Michael, their reasons to choose to teach at ISB are simple.
“Professionally, ISB is a rewarding place to work,” says Michael. “It's an exciting place full of a lot of passionate and skilled educators, where you have the resources and the support to focus on the craft of teaching.”
“ISB feels like an educational utopia because we have the finances to have basically any resource we want,” adds Amanda.
Both Amanda and Michael came to ISB from the US, having met in the Chicago area where they have both previously worked as teachers. Their young son, Bo, was born in China, and is a testament to his parents’ desire to live internationally and raise a multilingual family. As a Chinese-American herself, Amanda felt it important for her child to be raised within the culture and develop his language skills from birth.
Amanda and Michael have been unable to travel back to the US since Bo was born, but they look forward to him experiencing his other culture in person.
“He is almost two and he's starting to talk a lot, and seeing his English and Chinese language skills develop at the same time has been really cool as both the educators of small children, but also as a parent and as a Chinese language learner,” says Amanda. “It has been really fun and exciting.”
As one of a number of teaching couples at ISB, Amanda and Michael work in different departments, which means they often only see each other during their morning and afternoon bike rides to and from work, occasionally passing each other in the halls or meeting up when their lunch breaks align.
“It’s a pleasant surprise if we cross paths,” Amanda says, smiling at her family.
Teaching at the same school also means their holiday schedules are aligned, which has made their life a lot easier. Additionally, they might even cross paths with their son, as he is cared for on campus. Amanda has even been able to maintain her breastfeeding schedule with him, having been provided a private area on campus to do so. She acknowledges that this support from ISB allowed her to raise her son as she chose, while also maintaining her career.
“I think I would have stopped working [after my son was born] if I wasn’t teaching at ISB. Or I might have stopped breastfeeding and just returned to work”.
Both Michael and Amanda are excited for their son to attend ISB and to participate in the dual language program.
Ishi Gidwani, ES Physical Education and Curriculum Area Leader
Ishi (middle) is active in more ways than physical. She is an engaged member of the ISB community.
Ishi was born and raised in Hong Kong and traveled to Melbourne for university and is now entering her third year teaching at ISB.
When asked why I want to teach at ISB, the answer is simple. Having visited ISB’s campus to participate in soccer tournaments while teaching at another school, Ishi fell in love with the energy on campus, the immaculate facilities, and buzz she would hear from her colleagues.
“All the coaches would talk about ISB. They’d talk about the amazing facilities, the Dome, and I thought, ‘this sounds like the place I want to be’,” she says. “I’m so fortunate to be here. You feel so lucky and privileged. As a PE teacher this is the dream.”
Ishi joined the ISB community during the pandemic, which added to the challenge of finding her place within the existing community. But from Ishi’s perspective, the community at ISB was friendly, helpful, and supportive during her transition.
“ISB is a family away from home. Everyone here genuinely wants to see you succeed. It’s challenging for sure, but everyone’s got your back.”
Speaking of having her back - not only are her colleagues around to support her social, emotional, and mental health, she has a team of supporters who have encouraged her to take on leadership positions at ISB.
“I don’t think I ever would have dreamed of the person that I’ve become while at ISB,” she says. “The growth opportunities here are limitless.”
Azucena Ramirez, MS EAL Instructor, Curriculum Leader
Azucena wears many hats within the ISB community. As a Middle School EAL (English as an Additional Language) instructor, Curriculum area leader, and girls’ soccer coach, she’s always on the move.
Having lived in China since 2017, this is her second year teaching at ISB, and her first year in a leadership role. Her previous experience teaching in China was at a for-profit school, and Azucena felt that she wasn’t growing her skills as a language instructor and was seeking a new challenge.
When looking for her next step, ISB was at the top of her list.
“I felt like I needed to be refreshed. I needed to be pushed, to be stimulated,” says Azucena, regarding her skills as a teacher. “After being in China for three years I felt like I was going to work at ISB or I was going to go home.”
Equipped with ISB’s professional development allowance, she picked up any learning opportunity that came her way, including Project Zero from Harvard Graduate School, C6 Biliteracy Instructional Framework, and many more that she attended with her entire team.
Being able to see where ISB invests in the community was a major reason why she chose to teach at ISB.
“At ISB, they really care about you. As teachers we’re so used to taking care of and putting everything we have into our students that sometimes we forget about us. But ISB is great regarding our overall health, and not just for kids but for staff as well.”
All that being said, Azucena acknowledges how challenging it is to be so far from her family back home in North Carolina. Covid-19 has impacted many of ISB’s staff from being able to travel home and travel within Asia, but the strong community within ISB helps support staff through challenging times.
“As an educator I think ISB is a top notch school, based on how we are treated. How they value us, what they offer us, not just financially but in the growth you can achieve here,” she says.
Rob Skupien, Student Activities Coordinator and MS Physical Education and Rosalyn Thomas, Grade 3 EAL Teacher
Though they both hail from the UK, Rob and Rosalyn’s story together began in 2013 when they met at the Great Wall.
As Student Activities Coordinator and MS physical education teacher, Rob had his eyes set on ISB from the beginning. While working as a football coach in Beijing, Rob had the opportunity to travel across China and experience a number of schools, but when it came time to make his applications, he knew where to start.
“Out of all the schools I had visited, the first one that I emailed was ISB,” says Rob.
Meanwhile, Rosalyn was busy earning numerous credentials in linguistics, teaching, and more. Though only days into her tenure as a Grade 3 EAL teacher at ISB at the time we spoke, Rosalyn already felt a part of the ISB family. For Rosalyn, one of the reasons to choose to teach at ISB was due to the amazing community atmosphere.
“It's an incredibly supportive and inclusive school that aims to create community within its staff and students,” says Rosalyn.
“It just feels like a joint effort from everybody, parents, teachers, students. It's not like you're just stuck in your department or in your classroom. The direction of the school and the purpose is very clear,” adds Rob. “We're not starting anything from scratch. We're just standing on the shoulders of people who've done a fantastic job.”
“The food is great as well,” he adds with a laugh.
Admittedly, surviving Covid-19 in Beijing was a challenge for the couple. But thanks to the support they received from ISB, they were both able to find like minded friends and colleagues to share their time with.
“You are separate from family and friends, and sometimes that can be challenging,” admits Rob.
“ISB definitely tried to take into consideration staff wellbeing and really tried to take care of you and support you [throughout the pandemic]. I have been very impressed with that so far,” says Rosalyn.
Reasons to teach at ISB
Ultimately, when it comes to choosing the best school to teach at, there are many factors that come into play.
Ask yourself this question: why do I want to teach at ISB?
What are your reasons to choose to teach at ISB? Visit our Employment page for more information.
ISB is an extraordinary school, made so by a tradition of educational excellence spanning 40 years. Establishing, nurturing, and growing such an exceptional learning community has been and remains intentional; we work hard to build strong relationships so our learning is at its best.