The Bear Truth

Below the Surface – Ms. Spadinger Shares her Experiences in the Marshall Islands

Miss+Spadinger%2C+a+social+studies+teacher%2C+first+got+experience+in+her+field+by+teaching+English+in+the+Marshall+Islands.+
Miss Spadinger, a social studies teacher, first got experience in her field by teaching English in the Marshall Islands.

Miss Spadinger, a social studies teacher, first got experience in her field by teaching English in the Marshall Islands.

Photo by Ella Hall

Photo by Ella Hall

Miss Spadinger, a social studies teacher, first got experience in her field by teaching English in the Marshall Islands.

By Ella Hall and Emma Gustavsson

Day in and day out, we see our teachers one way, but there is certainly more than meets the eye when it comes to who they are outside of the classroom. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker will have had ten different jobs before they turn forty. That being said, it’s no surprise that a large majority of our teachers have had other, and in some cases quite astounding careers, outside of teaching. One of our social studies teachers, Ms. Spadinger, shared some of her  past experiences in another, most incredible career that has shaped her  into the person she is today.

 

What do or do you do that students don’t know about you?

On the Marshall Islands, I taught English to third through eighth grade students and I competed for swimming in Germany and Mexico and Canada and all of those places. World Teach, which is the program that I went through which is run out of Harvard, only does one year programs for people who want to go overseas for a year or six months. If you go through the Peace Corps, it’s two years. In the Peace Corps you have to build ditches and things like that, but through World Teach, I got to go teach (which was my major) so that’s why I opted for that. The World Teach program is run through Harvard, so it’s actually really competitive to get into that program.

 

Explain some of your past experiences involving this job?

My school had no electricity or running water, but it faced the lagoons so we could open up our windows and have access to the lagoons. On days when it rained, it was so dark; it was hard to see your paper. The sun would always rise at seven and set at seven, so when asked students how old they are, they would have no idea, because every day looks the same to them. I lived with a host family literally in a closet to the side of a house, and slept on cardboard for the first six months. I would have rats run over my feet and huge spiders in my house.  All Marshall-ese people sleep on the floor. I had a bunch of grades I taught from. In order to go to high school, you have to pass a test in English. They can retake it, so I had a kid who was seventeen in my eighth grade class.

What advice do you have for students looking to pursue a career in this field.?

A lot of people do it just to go and see what teaching is like and doing it abroad. It is a really good thing to try; you can go in college for three months, you can go for six months, you can go for a year, so it’s really flexible. Usually you are living with a host family, so you are fully immersed in the language.  At eighteen, you can apply for summer programs, and so that’s how you can prepare for teaching abroad. You apply and you go abroad for a summer where they give you training, and you can teach English at eighteen.

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