Member Spotlight #34: Ms. Barbara Meinel Jacobs (A teacher at the Albanian International School)
December 15, 2015
I’m from the USA, but I have been involved in humanitarian work and teaching around the world since 1973. A close friend of mine was a Montessori teacher from Ireland and she had invited me to come to the UK to work with her. After 3 months I moved to Essen, Germany to set up a Montessori center for very small children. I had 3 little students: my 5 month old daughter and 2 boys, both 4 yrs old. One was German and the other was Finnish. Neither of them spoke English or each other’s languages, so I taught them in English 5 hours a day. They learned fluent English by the time my daughter was 11 months old.
How did you get started in the international teaching community?
In March I moved on to Italy and from there got married, lived on a farm, and we traveled around Europe working with youth groups and setting up little Montessori/Preschools in Italy, France, and Portugal. This was just the beginning of our travels with our little growing family of six.
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.
Currently, I am teaching Preschool (EYFS) Albanian International School in Tirana, Albania. I’ve been teaching at this school since it’s conception in 2011. I started as Librarian sorting through 12,000 books and documenting their titles and authors. Then I taught English to the students that first year. The next year I started with the Preschool kids and have been involved in these ages ever since. I really enjoy teaching the littlest students of our school! It’s so much fun and exciting when they learn a concept, begin to speak English, make friends and discover something new about the world we live in.
My day begins at 4am. I wake up early so that I can think through the day, change any plans that may need to be changed and listen to calm music before I have to really get up at 6am. Then I leave the house at 7:30 and take a short walk to school.
One of our favorite things to do during rainy season is to dance for our exercise/play time. Albania has a long rainy season of December through middle of June! It rains every day and it is cold. We keep the little ones inside so discovering “Just Dance Kids” on YouTube has been a life saver! The kids love dancing along with the figures on the screen and are now proficient dancers.
Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
A really funny thing happened to me last week. We had been preparing for the Albanian independence days celebrations at school. My kids were dancing and singing in Albanian for weeks in preparation for their show. On Saturday after the show I was walking down the street to the supermarket playing music in my head. Halfway home I realized that I was singing Albanian folk music instead of the usual music I play in my head. I’ve finally become Albanian! I’ve been here since 2010.
What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
One of the important things I look for when searching for an international school is whether there is much pollution (I have asthma), a safe environment, and they won’t mind my age or nationality.
In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
Exciting, fun, new friends, challenges!
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Want to work for an international school in the Eastern Europe like Barbara? Currently, we have 105 international schools listed in Eastern Europe on International School Community. 54 of them have had comments submitted on their profiles. Here are just a few of them:
Pechersk School International (Kyiv, Ukraine) – 122 Comments
International School of Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia) – 34 Comments
Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia) – 66 Comments
Wroclaw International School (Wroclaw, Poland) – 46 Comments
American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland) – 82 Comments
International School of Latvia (Riga, Latvia) – 33 Comments
American International School of Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia) – 29 Comments
Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria) – 28 Comments
International School of Azerbaijan (Baku, Azerbaijan) – 39 Comments