International School Community Member Spotlight #24: Cherry Doromal (An int’l school educator working at Mahatma Gandhi International School Manila)
May 18, 2013
Mabuhay! Let me take you to Manila, Philippines! I am Dr. Cherry Moriones- Doromal, Bachelor of Mass Communication, Bachelor of Laws, Master in Business Administration, Doctorate of Strategic Studies, Licensed Teacher, Secondary Education—specializing in English and Literature, multi-awarded educational and community leader, composer, blogger, Generalist Educator for MGIS International Primary Curriculum, Quad-Media Director of Mahatma Gandhi International School, and a lifelong learner .
My career, in sum, has been 19 years of exciting journey, allowing me to meet different kinds of people, in different walks of life, in different parts of the world. These experiences have not only molded me to become versatile and sociable, but also prompted me to devote my future in the academe. I believe that being an educator is the perfect avenue where I can best serve my purpose, and is the noblest profession where I can maximize, utilize and impart my God-given talents.
As to the other things about me, such as my quotes, family life, hobbies and writings, they may be found everywhere on the Web.
How did you get started in the international teaching community?
I am currently working at the Mahatma Gandhi International School Manila, or MGIS for brevity, and I am truly thankful to our Headmaster Lawrence M. Buck for this opportunity.
Which international schools have you worked at? Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.
Mahatma Gandhi International School Manila , or MGIS, is exceptional in many aspects. My two sons are enrolled here. Here are some of its unique features, and please bear with me as I try my best to shorten my description:
• Individualized teaching – Generally, less than 10 students per class; in rare cases, maximum of 15 pax per class
At MGIS, potentials are determined, recognized, enhanced and supported. Here’s just one out of the many examples. There’s one 6th Grader, James Ketcher, who loves singing. When the teachers saw this interest in James, they believed and supported the kid’s potentials, such that he was diligently coached and guided by the MGIS Music and Theater Arts specialists making James Ketcher one of the most admired lead role actors in the series of theatrical shows of The King and I at Resorts World Manila.
At MGIS, we let your kids think. We don’t teach religion; we teach VALUES. We respect individual and inter-cultural differences and freedom of expression where the students are heard. Plus, there’s no haircut policy, which is common in our local schools where the boys are required to have their heads shaved or cut at a certain length.
Most of all, at MGIS, the teachers who are all specialists in their respective subject area are passionate about teaching, practicing empathy towards the learners. Our staff are supported towards being life-long learners where they are being sent to local and international conferences and seminars regularly; thus, assuring that MGIS 21st century educators will acquire the competence expected of them.
In this school, international and professional quality performing arts is taught to students at all levels. Each year, before the end of the last term, MGIS comes up with a school-wide play/musical, participated by all students, faculty and staff. Last SY 2011-2012, we had Notre Dame de Paris– French Version; the year before, we had Cats the Musical.
Another feature is that MGIS connects daily with parents and students through our state-of-the-art online facilities; and yes, we use Edmodo.
MGIS listens to suggestions, addresses needs, and cares for your kids the way you would at home. Simply said, MGIS serves the community, celebrates with the world, values nationalism, promotes internationalism, loves the earth, and makes a difference.
Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
What puts a smile on my face? Well, I am a satisfied parent- educator with two kids studying in MGIS! Witnessing how my own children and the rest of our international students get to easily adapt to MGIS upon entry, and how they develop camaraderie among their classmates and schoolmates, is such an affirmation of the kind of convivial environment we have here in MGIS where the school values of C.E.R.T. (Compassion, Empathy, Respect and Tolerance) are truly thriving.
What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
All I want is a school that genuinely promotes a positive learning and working environment for all. One that empathizes with and cares for the teachers, administrative staff, and the students, hence, providing their needs to be more effective in teaching and in learning.
In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
Successfully making a positive difference!
If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here. If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!
Want to work for an international school in Manila like Cherry? Currently, we have 8 international schools listed in the Manila on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:
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May 14, 2013
The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted have had very easy when trying to get reimbursed for things at their international school (though ‘kind of hard’ was in a close second place).
Thank goodness that most members are finding is very easy to get reimbursed. There is nothing worse than buying something for your school (even after getting approval to buy it) and then it being a big hassle to get your money back.
Some countries you need to really do everything by the book, otherwise there isn’t much hope for you to get your money back.
But what is it typically like for the international school teachers who are finding it very easy to get reimbursed? These schools will most likely be not-for-profit ones. They also will be in an excellent financial situation with great budgets for departments and for individual teachers. When you buy something for this kind of school, all you have to do is hand in your receipt to the business department; and yes they will accept all kinds of receipts (or better said, the country that they live in doesn’t have a history of corruption amongst local businesses and the receipts that they use will be more universal and accepted).
Once you had in your receipt at a school where it is ‘very easy’ to get reimbursed, you will either get paid back straight away in cash (if the amount is under a certain amount) or you the business office manager will set up a bank transfer that day so that you can get your money back quickly in that manner instead.
Getting your money back in a timely manner is good for everyone at the school. If you are waiting for money to be paid back to you then that most likely means that you are still thinking about getting that money back when you come to school each day. As each day passes (without you getting paid), it starts distracting you (at times) from your work and doing the best job you can do.
Let’s share more about the international schools where it is ‘very easy’ to get reimbursed! It would be very interesting to see which schools would show up on that list.
Luckily on International School Community, we have a School Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses this very topic.
• What types of budgets to classroom teachers/departments get?
There have been many comments and information submitted in this topic on numerous school profiles on our website.
One International School Community member said about working at Vietnam American International School (27 Comments): “There were no budgets. No one ever knew how much they could spend. Most of the supplies requested and ordered did not come in. Even basic supplies like teacher’s editions to lab supplies to art supplies were not purchased during the 2011-2 school year. However, there were two very good copiers and plenty of paper available.”
Another member said about working at American School of Barcelona (98 Comments): “Getting supplies at ASB can be quite the challenge as all the supplies are “guarded” by 1 person. You must go through him to request these supplies and sometimes he is not so forthcoming with them to you. If you ask for pencils, you might get 10 from him!”
Another member submitted a comment about working at Harbin No. 9 High School International Division (Songbei Campus) (45 Comments): “I was not aware of any budget process. The man financing this for profit school was Mr. Cao Ying Hua. He seemed to wield the purse strings as he saw fit. I believe that his primary intention for the school was to make money. He showed very little concern for anything else. Certainly not for the well being of staff or even long range student well being. Oligarch maybe!”
If you are currently a premium member of International School Community, please take a moment to share your experience of what it is like to get reimbursed (or NOT reimbursed) at the international schools at which you have worked. You can start by logging on here.
Stay tuned for our next survey topic which is to come out in a few days time.
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Selecting an international school: Tip #10 – Does the school facilitate learning about the host country?
May 9, 2013
What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons for why teachers choose to work at an international school abroad as well? There are many different kinds of international schools and they are all in different situations. How important is finding out about how well the international school deals with disciplinary problems? It could be beneficial to ask these types of questions at your interview, before you make any big decisions to move or choose an international school at which to work. So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend or for you to work at? In this blog series, we will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.
One of the exciting reasons to work at international schools is to live, work and learn about a different culture and region. Many international schools strive to embed the local culture into the academic curriculum, extra-curricular activities and overall vision/mission of the school. The benefits of doing so are enormous. It helps to create open-mindedness, a sense of belonging to a community, create local partnerships, inspire community action and outreach projects, and promote understanding of language and local customs. However, this does not happen by accident and a school must make a conscious decision to design this all areas of the school; starting with the vision, mission and core values of the school.
Assessing how much value an international school puts into its local culture can start with looking at the school’s mission, vision and core values. For example, the International School of the Hague’s mission statement states part of its mission is “to make an active contribution to global, international and local communities” while “interacting with global, international and local communities through the exchange of resources and knowledge.” Another international school in Indonesia, Sinarmas World Academy, has their mission to “engage, act, thrive” by engaging in service to solve local, Asian and global issues. So why does this matter? All school-wide goals, projects and action items must be aligned with an overall school’s mission, vision and values. Therefore, if you have an interest in engaging in the local culture, this is a good place to start your research.
The second place to start is within the formal curriculum. Does the school offer authentic ways to engage and connect with the local community within a unit of study? Some international accreditation bodies have it as part of their framework. For example, the IBO (international baccalaureate organization) has a strong action and community service component of the PYP, MYP and DP programs. The DP program has a creativity action service (CAS) program where students use local issues to take up action projects. Both the MYP and PYP have strong action components as well that are integrates into units of inquiry and cross-curricular units. This often leads to relevant and meaningful action projects where students get to learn about and help solve local issues. Often schools have CAS coordinators that help to coordinate these projects across the school. These projects do not just happen outside of school walls, but can happen inside school. For instance, local schools are often invited into the school for a mutual learning experiences tied to a unit of study.
Another area to integrate with the local community is through extra-curricular activities, conferences, special events and sporting programs. An important question to ask your prospective school is what types of extra-curricular activities do they offer with the local community? Do they offer local conferences for teachers or parents? Do they offer sports tournaments with local teams? Do they offer cultural events celebrating local traditions or customs? These are often questions that are way down the list but contribute to the overall school culture and climate. They provide unique opportunities for students and staff to learn and develop friendships with local members of the community. For example, in some international schools in Asia, they celebrate Chinese New Year and often invite local performers, artisans and experts to offer musical, arts, culinary activities for students to engage with. This can really enrich the informal areas of the curriculum that can have long lasting effects.
The opportunity to learn another language is another popular reason for choosing to work at an international school. The ability to converse in another language opens doors for our future learners as well as professionals. Thus, a critical question to ask is what languages are offered at the school and what language levels? Do they offer language instruction in the local language, either in the formal curriculum or as an after-school activity? Do they offer language lessons for staff? Often being able to speak even a few words of the local language goes a long way and is often appreciated by locals.
Interacting and learning from local cultures provides a tremendous opportunity for rich learning experiences for students, teachers and parents. I believe this is one reason why we travel and live overseas. Often, this is an area that is forgotten in job interviews but remains an important consideration when choosing an international school in the future.
Have a specific international school in mind that you thinking of applying at? Check out our “Where our Members have worked” page and start contacting some of our members that know about the international school you are interested in knowing more about. Our 2400+ members currently work at (or have worked at in the past) 430 different international schools. Feel free to send them a private message about how much their international school facilitates learning about the host country.
28 Tips for Selecting an Int'l School
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Blogs of international school teachers: “Life in Kunshan, China” (An international school PARENT at Kunshan International School)
April 30, 2013
Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?
Our 30th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Life in Kunshan, China” It is not actually written by a teacher, but by a parent! Check out the blog entries of this international school PARENT who currently sends their children to Kunshan American School in China.
A few entries that we would like to highlight:
“The school is quite large. We were only able to see the kindergarten area today – a meeting with teaching staff and tour of the school will occur later in the month – but what we saw was impressive: the kindergarten has a room with beds for naps, a separate and large room with great play equipment, a traditional teaching room and a separate reading room with about a dozen PCs for the kids to work on.
I was struck by the cost of the school: only 12,500 RMB/semester for Logan and 10,000 for Jordan. That works out to a little over $3,000/year for our two boys, a small fraction of what we’d have to pay to send the kids to school in Shanghai, and even less than we were paying in California for Jordan’s pre-school…”
It is interesting to get the international school parents’ perspective once and awhile. I actually just witnessed a “tour” going on today at work with our school secretary showing around a new/prospective family. I was out on break duty and was wondering what the parents were thinking as they watched all the students running around. Were they impressed by the school’s playground and how the students were using it? We should have the school secretary share more about what kind of feedback/statements she/he hears when giving a tour of our school. It could prove to be quite intriguing to hear what prospective/new parents (and their children) are saying!
And then there is the cost of sending children to the international school in question. Typically it can be very expensive for expat parents paying for themselves. But we all know that many expat parents don’t typically pay for the tuition themselves, their company pays for them. What a nice surpise then to find out the tuition at Kunshan International School is actually low when compared to other international schools in China.
On a side note, we also have an article on our blog about international school teachers’ dependence on IKEA when living abroad. Check out the article here.
“The teachers seem to take a deep interest in the kids. About a week before the start of school, Jordan’s (who was going to start kindergarten) teacher came to our house to visit on a Saturday, speaking with Jordan and answering questions we had. She was going to all the students’ homes, getting to know them and allow them to get comfortable with her (of course, this just doesn’t happen in the U.S.)…”
I have never heard of this happening! How great that a teacher at this international school goes to each student’s house to answer questions that the student and family have! Does any one know of any other international school that does this kind of orientation?
Want to work for an international school in China like this blogger sends their children to? Currently, we have 142 international schools listed in China on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:
• Beijing City International School (31 Comments)
Blogs of International Teachers
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New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves at International Schools: Resource person with a contact number and email address
April 26, 2013
In this blog series we will talk about the ins and outs of an excellent new teacher orientation programme at an international school. A new teacher orientation programme can really play a very important part to the start at your new school, in your new host country. What are all the must-haves then? Check out our blog series here to read all about the ones that we have discussed so far.
Must-have #9: Resource person with a contact number and email address
There is so much going on for international school teachers in their first days, weeks and even months after starting at their new school. There is just as much going on for you before you arrive at your new host country. Being that there is so much to think about, one of the most important things that international schools can do for their new hires is set-up so that they have a resource person. New teachers actually need to have a contact person from the moment they get offered their contract (e.g. when they are still in their home country or their current placement). There are so many things going on in the new teacher’s mind, and that person needs somebody to talk to and ask questions to as the time gets closer and closer for his/her big move.
I remember getting the chance to talk over the phone (now it would be done via Skype I’m sure) with a contact person a few months before I moved. The contact person was another teacher at the school who had worked there a year already. In turn, it was fresh in her mind all the things that a new teacher would want to know about. I had my list of ‘new teacher’ questions ready to ask her. She was very real and forthcoming with her answers and it made me that much more comfortable, at the time, in my preparation for the big move which was in 2-3 months. Sure I got some information and answers from the director who hired me, but it is many times much better to get a different perspective on things. Also, there are some questions that you just might not ask a director (potentially your immediate supervisor). Once I got to the school, that initial ‘resource’ person then coordinated some new teacher orientation activities for me and the rest of the new teachers. But then, that was it. Also, I found out later that this contact person wasn’t actually getting paid any extra to do this; contacting and helping out the new teachers. A year later, they changed that and made sure to give an appropriate stipend for the teacher/s that take on this role.
Other international schools have this initial contact person, but then that teacher turns into an official mentor. The mentor’s role is definitely to be the contact person for this new teacher. Some mentorship programmes at international schools are quite helpful, others not so much. Sometimes there isn’t a good match between the mentor and the new teacher. That new teacher just might find a better, more compatible mentor in one of the teachers in their immediate team at the school. It is nice though to have another contact person, an official one, if the other teacher isn’t available. Basically anyone can be a mentor at a new school. Just because someone is your official mentor doesn’t mean that another teacher could turn into that role for you if you don’t think the first one is the best fit for you.
Not all international schools are that organized though with regards to assigning contact people to new staff. It could be that the school doesn’t even have a mentor programme. But the problems could also be related to an existing, ineffective mentor programme. For example, there is nothing worse than when you email your ‘resource’ and then that contact person never gets back to you. Maybe the person is just ignoring their ‘resource’ job or maybe the school just gave you the wrong email address (for example some teachers might not use their work email address very often or at all during the summer holiday). Either way, when you don’t have communication with your new school during these pre-move months, then you can easily start to get a bit anxious and nervous about whether you are preparing the best way you can. Some new teachers might even get “cold-feet” and call the whole thing off; it can happen! The main point is though: to keep the new teacher as comfortable and as most informed as possible!
So, does your international school assign a resource person with a contact number and email address to their newly hired teachers? Please share your experiences!
New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves
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