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Member Spotlight #20: Jack Murphy (An veteran int’l teacher currently working as an Int’l School Consultant)

Every 1-2 months International School Community will highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight feature.  This month we interviewed Jack Murphy:

Screen Shot 2012-12-19 at 8.53.56 PMTell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I grew up on Long Island about 30 miles from New York City. I attended college in North Carolina and did graduate work at Notre Dame University. My career gravitated from teacher and coach to guidance counselor and then to college counselor. However, that developmental process took twenty years.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

I taught history and coached in Charlotte, NC for several years after military duty. At a certain point I decided to see more of the world and thought that teaching abroad might offer that opportunity. My first overseas teaching assignment placed me in a castle in Scotland. From that experience onward, with the exception of a few stopover years back home, I was to be an international educator.

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.

Many international teachers travel the world and work at a variety of schools. I may have taken that tendency to a different level.  During my career I taught, coached and counseled a twelve international schools located on five continents. The schools ranged from smaller to larger, proprietary and private, American to international, IB curriculum and otherwise. Each school was unique but each had energetic, vigorous and dedicated faculty. International teachers bring a certain active and innovative spirit to their profession and students thrive on that spirit. Two of my favorite places were at schools were in Amsterdam and Venezuela.  However, I had the most fun at the International School of Kenya and the Jakarta International School.

Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.

I have experienced many but one that comes to mind occurred at a golf course in Vietnam. After attending an EARCOS Conference in Ho Chi Minh City we took a short holiday in the highlands. We decided to play golf one day and arrived at a lovely course and small club house. Our clubs and equipment were taken by several Vietnamese women caddies but we expected to find them on the other side as we proceeded into the building to pay and shop at the Pro Shop. When we departed the building on the other side and expected to join up with our clubs and caddies we were surprised that the clubs were no where to be found.

After a few long minutes of confusion and panic, two Vietnamese woman pointed to the road and tried to give signal that our clubs were on the course or near the driving range. None could speak English so they pointed, laughed and acted out and what they needed to say. Then they drove us up the road to the driving range giggling all the way. When we arrived at the driving range, near the first tee, their was a French couple hitting golf balls and I immediately recognized that the tall man was swinging my clubs next my golf bag. As we approached I could also see that he was wearing my shoes and my golf glove next to my golf bag.

To make a long story short we cleared up the matter and I set out to play one of the finest rounds of golf of my life. The priceless part was watching the Vietnamese ladies enjoy the hilarity of the mix-up and take it all in stride with lovely smiles, soft giggles and an ability to bring warmth and kindness to what first appeared to be both a stressful and embarrassing to all the westerners involved.

What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?

When I looked for the next school it was the location that counted most. My purpose was to try a new place in a new region each time I moved schools. Secondly, I also wanted to grow with each move and I sought schools that might finance my own professional development and provide opportunities to attend conferences in my field.  And, of course, when I was a younger teacher I wanted to go places that had an active school and social life.

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?

Exciting, inspiring, educating, challenging and fulfilling.

Thanks Jack!

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 Kenya like Jack?  Currently, we have 9 international schools listed in the Kenya on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

International School of Kenya (13 Comments)
Aga Khan Academy Mombasa (3 Comments)