Messiah College is taking “a worldwide sense of belonging” to the next level as spring ‘14 marks the inaugural year for seven education majors to student teach abroad.
Supporting a calling
To make student teaching abroad possible, Messiah College partnered with the Christian College Teacher Education Coordinating Council (CCTECC), an organization that arranges placements in international schools. According to Messiah College Director of Teacher Education and CCTECC Campus Coordinator Jennifer Fisler, growing requests for student teaching abroad opportunities led to establishing this partnership. More and more, post-graduate education majors are choosing to “go global” and this unique new program will open career opportunities for students who feel called to teach internationally. One such alumna, Danielle Hale ‘12, is currently teaching at Bingham Academy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She says, “I am so excited that Messiah has created this opportunity for their education majors because it opens up so many doors to new places and challenges … teaching in an international setting introduces you to new cultures, changes your worldview and builds relationships with colleagues and students from all over the world.”
Collaboration with the Intercultural Office
Alongside the Teacher Education Committee, the Intercultural Office played an integral role in creating this opportunity. Director of International Programs Faith Minnich says, “The Intercultural Office is deeply interested in student transformation and providing off-campus experiences that hit foundationally the academic component but also provide opportunities for holistic opportunity and learning.” Through this partnership, Messiah College’s ultimate goal is to give students international teaching experience as they are stretched in their teaching abilities and understanding as they enter into an entirely new culture.
All teacher certification students who have completed the pre-requisite requirements for the Teacher Education Program leading up to the semester are eligible to participate. After the application process, seven students were accepted into the program. While other students left campus for spring break, these students left the country to teach in Thailand, New Zealand, Colombia, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Morocco and Panama. Students had the opportunity to choose their destinations either from the list of schools provided by CCTECC or by requesting specific schools. Seniors Jordyn Scheib and Danielle Pianucci are both returning to places they visited while on service or Collaboratory projects. Pianucci, who will be teaching at the International School of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, says, “I was able to visit the ISO and observe a few classes there during a J-term trip to Burkina Faso. During our visit, I fell in love with the school and the idea of teaching such a diverse population of students in a context so different from anything I am familiar with.”
Students will be teaching at both Christian and secular schools. Inspired by Mark 16:15: “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation,’” senior Brynita Lacey will be teaching first grade at El Camino Academy, a Christian school in Bogota, Colombia. She says, “When I read El Camino’s mission statement and saw statements like ‘fostering spiritual growth,’ ‘modeling Christ-likeness and disciplining intentionally,’ and ‘providing a Bible-centered education,’ it really resonated with me. The fact that I could teach students and at the same time share my faith made me feel excited. Jesus did not give too specific directions on where each of us should go, but He said go!”
Once abroad students will have a cooperating teacher in their host school and will maintain contact with their Grantham-based college supervisor via technology, so that they have a person to provide them with additional support and feedback. Teaching abroad, students hope to increase their global awareness and spread Christ’s love internationally.
Story by Katie Johnston ‘15. Photo courtesy of Jenn Fisler.