Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight #36: Cassandra Anthony (A teacher at Stamford American International School)

March 11, 2017


Every so often International School Community is looking to highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight blog category.  This month we interviewed Cassandra White:

member spotlightTell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I’m originally from Sydney, Australia however as a child I lived in both Germany and the UK for various amounts of time. I first did a Music degree at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, followed by a Graduate Diploma of Education at the University of New England, Australia. A couple of years after this, with an interest in Education Psychology which had been piqued whilst studying Music Education at the Conservatorium, I decided to do a Masters of Arts (Music Psychology in Education), at the University of Sheffield, UK. This masters degree really opened my eyes to the world of Academia as well and I’m currently halfway through a PhD in Music Education at the University of Queensland, Australia. I guess you could say I’m the eternal student!

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

The travel bug hit me big time in my early 20’s and I travelled extensively around Europe, Asia, the USA and Africa. I became very interested in the International School scene after meeting a music teacher who worked at WAB in Beijing and had been international for the last 15 years, this really opened my eyes to what could be an amazing lifestyle overseas whilst still teaching. This friend kept me in the loop of ‘good’ jobs that were coming up in various countries but due to study commitments, it wasn’t until I was 30 that I was truly ready to embark on an International School journey. I found my job on the schools website and applied, within a month I had a job interview and a job offer a few days after that. It was definitely a case of right place, right time for me.

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.

member spotlightI began working at Stamford American International School, Singapore in August last year. I have close friends who live in Singapore and have visited them very regularly so knew that Singapore was an ideal ‘first international school’ country for me. SAIS is an IB world school which also follows the AERO (American Education Reaches Out) standards, this was my first IB PYP experience and it’s been a learning curve but I absolutely love inquiry education and I’ve learnt so much in my first 8 months already. My school has a huge mix of nationalities, Americans, Canadians, Brits, Aussies, New Zealanders, as well as several other nationalities. It’s a cultural melting pot and it’s one of my favourite aspects of the school. My school is quite large with over 3000 students from 2 years-grade 12. The students are exposed to a wide variety of CCA’s and they have a Global Mentors Program which brings leaders in various fields to the school to give presentations and engage with the students, already this year we have had a Nobel Laureate, a Real Madrid soccer player and the ex-flautist of the London Symphony Orchestra visiting the school! 

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

Singapore is a unique place, a lot of people say it’s boring but there is so much to do here! I have funny cultural interactions with my colleagues a lot, I share my classroom with an American teacher and she has learnt a lot of Aussie slang from me! The first time I described a lesson as a ‘ripper’ she looked very concerned until I explained a ‘ripper’ meant a great lesson, it still makes me laugh! I can’t convince her to like vegemite for breakfast but she does love weetbix now! 

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

DO YOUR RESEARCH! I read as many reviews as I could possibly find about the school, read the good, the bad and the ugly so you can make the most informed choice. Find out about the professional development opportunities (ie if you’re new to a curriculum, will they send you on training?). Good leadership is also essential, ideally you want those in positions of authority to have several years of classroom experience behind them so they can be supportive of decisions for staff as well as students. The internet is such a powerful research tool now, use google maps and google images to find out about the location of the school, if there is accommodation nearby that is affordable or will you need to spend a lot of time in transit to and from, check out expat forums to get an idea of salary or prices of food/travel/transport. 

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

Exhilarating, Challenging, Adventurous, Broadening, Inspiring

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Thanks Cassandra!

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 one year free of premium access to our website!

Want to work for an international school in the Singapore like Cassandra?  Currently, we have 24 international schools listed in Singapore on International School Community. 13 of them have had comments submitted on their profiles. Here are just a few of them:

EtonHouse International School (Singapore) (Singapore, Singapore)30 Comments
International School Singapore (Singapore, Singapore)17 Comments
Nexus International School (Singapore, Singapore)22 Comments
One World International School (Singapore, Singapore)16 Comments
Overseas Family School Singapore (Singapore, Singapore)26 Comments
Singapore American School (Singapore, Singapore)44 Comments
Stamford American International School (Singapore, Singapore)47 Comments

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Singapore American School

October 9, 2016


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the Singapore American School (Singapore), described her way to work there as follows:

The road to Singapore American School…

It is no accident that I wake up each morning to sweeping views of the rainforest. Like all SAS teachers new to Singapore, we had to decide if we would live near the school in Woodlands at the northernmost point of the island or commit to more of a commute by living away from campus.  While many teachers make this decision based on their interest in being closer to the city center, we were looking for the opposite!  My family and I decided early on in the relocation process that living close to some sort of green space was a must.  Finding just such a spot in densely populated Singapore which also had all the necessary transport options was a challenge, but not impossible. Though, we do feel a little like we hit the jackpot with our condo.

Singapore American School

The MRT (train system) in Singapore is known for being efficient and punctual, which in my experience is definitely true.  What many people don’t realize is that the bus system is equally so!  I was tipped off by a fellow expat, (thanks Mette) who encouraged us to venture further away from the MRT stations and look for housing with a great bus route.  We hit the jackpot there too! Before we signed the lease, we did a practice run to the school and were very relieved to discover it was easy peasy. We’ve been for a while now and have our commute down to a smooth routine.

Here is our journey to Singapore American School in numbers:

5:15: time the alarm goes off (for the first time)

6:35: time I have to leave in order to make it to school around 7am (nice and early to get a head start on the day)

> 3: number of apps available which track public transport services and tip me off to when my next bus will come by.  On a perfect day, I can leave our condo and stroll to the bus stop just in time to walk onto the bus.  On the less than perfect days, rarely more than 10 minutes passes between busses.

23: number of floors we ride the elevator down. We’re not alone in our highrise living.  According to 2014 Singapore Housing statistics, over 80% of island residents live in HDBs, while a further 13% live in apartments and condos.  This means that a full 93% of the country’s inhabitants live high above the ground.  In that way, we are definitely amongst the majority with our one-floor-shy-of-the-penthouse condo.

up to 2: minutes of elevator time. The bus stop in front of our condo is max 200 meter as the crow flies from our front door, but I inevitably underestimate the vertical commute! Luckily, when I step off the elevator I’m greeted with a lush pool area and I’m reminded of one of the many reasons we made this move.

Singapore American School

26-29: degrees Celsius, the temperature that greets me each early morning as I stroll through aforementioned pool area. The temperatures vary very little here, with an almost daily high of 33 and nighttime low of 26. It’s easy to dress knowing exactly what the weather will be like each day (just remember to pack an umbrella). I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the constant gloss of sweat, though.

2: number of taps of my school ID card it takes to pay for the bus ride to school-one to get on and one to get off.

S$1.30: bus fare each way

70-80%: passengers sleeping on the bus, head nodded forward or leaned awkwardly against a window.  I’ve noticed sleeping on the bus is a ‘thing’ here.  The result is a truly quiet ride, perfect for getting into the mental zone of the day.

4: languages (Malay, Tamil, Mandarin and English) bus sign are written in which is reflective of the cultural mix on the island.

0: sips of coffee I’ve taken since getting on the bus. I’ll avoid the $500 fine, thank you! I do miss the option of bringing my mug and a snack on the days when I’m running late though.

12-15: total bus ride, in minutes.

4: times per hour the school shuttle departs from Marsiling MRT station to the campus in case you want to skip the…

8: minutes walk between Marsiling MRT and campus.

Approximately 2 out of 5: days in a work-week that I get to witness a beautiful sunrise from the top deck of the bus.  On the days when I’m a little behind schedule, nature reminds me to slow down and enjoy the ride with one of these:

Millions: trees and plants lining the roadside. Singapore prioritizes landscaping in any new building project, roads included. While the result is a very manicured landscape, it certainly beats the concrete jungle. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest and lived many years in Scandinavia, I do miss a good wild forest though.

Dozens:  motorcycles and scooters zooming by, weaving in and out of traffic, sometimes erratically.  

1*26’: distance of school from the equator. Because Singapore sits so close to the equator, the day is consistently 12hrs long: sun up 7:15ish, sundown 19:15ish.

At least 10: school busses backed up at the intersection leading to the school. Something like 80% of students arrive on school busses each morning. That requires dozens of busses and quite complex logistics. It works though, like a well-oiled machine.

7-8: security guards smiling, waving, standing watch at the school’s well-guarded main entrance.

S$2.50-4: price of a tasty Hawker Center meal. A bonus of the walk back to the bus stop from school in the afternoon is passing through the local Hawker Center where very inexpensive and tasty local food can be had.  Good for those late afternoons when the thought of cooking is just too much!

approx S$10: cost of a taxi home on the days that I can’t take the thought of an 8 minute walk to the bus stop after a loooong day. Taxis are relatively inexpensive here, especially compared to owning a car (astronomical, and purposely in order to keep the number of cars down). On taxi days, I’m home in less than 10 minutes.

There are days now and then when I wish we’d chosen to live in the neighborhood close to school. They are, however, far outnumbered by the days I look out over the jungle and am thankful that we stumbled upon this little gem. And, that all the numbers add up to a pleasant journey and a smooth start to our school day.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author and International School Community member.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Singapore?  Out of a total of 24 international schools we have listed in Singapore, 13 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

EtonHouse International School (Singapore) (Singapore, Singapore)30 Comments

International School Singapore (Singapore, Singapore)17 Comments

Nexus International School (Singapore, Singapore)22 Comments

One World International School (Singapore, Singapore)16 Comments

Overseas Family School Singapore (Singapore, Singapore)26 Comments

Singapore American School (Singapore, Singapore)38 Comments

Stamford American International School (Singapore, Singapore)40 Comments

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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Blogs of International Teachers

International School Teacher Blogs: “The Roaming Filipina” (A counselor working at Shekou International School in Shenzhen, China)

April 11, 2016


Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad and working at an international school?

Our 44th blog that we would like to highlight is called “The Roaming Filipina”  Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who works at Shekou International School in Shenzhen, China.

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

How Did I Get Here?

“I attended my first Search fair in Cambridge, MA and came away with interview experience, but no job. ISM even left me a “thanks, but no thanks” note.  Frustrated, but undeterred.  Through that experience I learned that it wasn’t really about moving to the Philippines anymore, but about fulfilling my desire to explore the world.

About 2 weeks after the Cambridge fair, one listing caught my eye.  A listing for a whole school counselor at a school in Uzbekistan. YES UZBEKISTAN.  I waited a day or two to think about whether or not I really wanted to apply to this school.  Afterall, it is in a country that I knew so little about.  My boyfriend gave me a weird look, but said that I should do it if it’s what I really want.  I also sent resumes to more schools in the East Asia/SE Asia region and even considered teaching English somewhere.  But after perusing the school’s site thoroughly and reading every article I could possibly find on Google, I started to imagine myself living in Central Asia. It didn’t seem so bad.

I interviewed with the two principals and Head of School on Skype.  After a few days, they asked if I wanted to meet face to face in California. I was offered the position and I immediately accepted.  I spent three GREAT years in Uzbekistan…”

Getting your first job overseas is always exciting and typically makes for a great story to tell your international school teacher friends. 

Want to read more about what “newbies” to international school teaching should know about?  Check out our blog series called “For the Newbies.

Surviving the International School Job Fairs

Day Two and Three – Saturday & Sunday

This is THE HEART of the fair. It is the day you sign-up for interviews and will likely do all your initial interviews during this time. Do:

• WEAR YOUR POWER SUIT – DRESS TO IMPRESS

• organize your resumes, laptop, etc. I preferred to keep my laptop/iPad with me so I can work on stuff outside of my room – saved a lot of time vs. going back to my room between interviews.

• agree to interviews with schools that you’re not sure you’re interested in. Good for practice and you never know – it might be a GREAT fit for you.

• find a quiet corner besides your room to chill between interviews – you just never know who is walking around. Visibility is important.

• breathmints – use them

• prioritize which school tables you want to hit first during sign-ups. Some schools are REALLY popular so you might want to go to the ones that have shorter lines first and get interviews lined up.

• if you get a “fast pass”  – direct invitation from the school to bypass the line to schedule an interview, HIT THOSE SCHOOLS FIRST

• try to get to the interview 10 minutes before – don’t schedule your interviews so close together that you’d be late. Also – keep in mind that hotel elevators will be really busy, especially if there are 200+ candidates rushing to interviews...

Great advice from an experience international school teacher. Going to the recruitments fairs with a plan of attack is always a good choice.  Knowing ahead of time what to expect can better help you manage your emotions throughout the fair experience.

For more advice check out our blog series called Nine Lessons Learned Regarding International School Hiring Fairs.”  As a sneak peek, lesson number one is “Bad interviews are good things.

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Want to work for an international school in China like this blogger?  Currently, we have 160 international schools listed in this country. 109 have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Wellington College International Tianjin (Tianjin, China)47 Comments
EtonHouse International Schools, Wuxi (Wuxi, China)49 Comments
Suzhou Singapore International School (Suzhou, China)47 Comments
Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China)202 Comments
British International School Shanghai – Puxi (Shanghai, China)35 Comments
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China)77 Comments
Access International Academy (Ningbo) (Ningbo, China)48 Comments
Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China)92 Comments
Creative Secondary School (Hong Kong, China)39 Comments
Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China)55 Comments
QSI International School of Dongguan (Dongguan, China)64 Comments
Guangdong Country Garden School (Foshan, China)48 Comments
Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China)93 Comments
Western Academy Beijing (Beijing, China)43 Comments

Additionally, there are 264 International School Community members who currently live in China. Check out which ones and where they work here.  Feel free to go ahead and contact them with any questions that you might have as well; nice to get first hand information about what it is like to live and work there!

* If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.

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Blogs of International Teachers

International School Teacher Blogs: “From the Principal’s Office” (A principal working in Sudan)

December 28, 2015


Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad and working at an international school?

Our 43rd blog that we would like to highlight is called “From the Principal’s Office.”  Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who works at Khartoum International Community School in Sudan.

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Off to NYC (Fact v Fiction)

“It seems as if the further I travel, the less well trodden the paths, the more that the western so-called developed world in which I grew up becomes foreign and strange. Each person’s world-view is, of course, plastic and fluid, moulded by the environment in which we live and the experiences we undergo. Looking back to my own parochial working class Lancastrian upbringing in the late 60s and through the 70s I cannot even find the words to describe the changes that have impacted on how I now see the world. So, looking at my son and his experiences – and considering how rapidly the world is changing – I cannot even begin to comprehend how his world-view will develop in the decades to come. Multiply him by the 390+ other students in my school and the challenge of preparing young people for the future is wildly self-evident.…”

It is exciting working at an international school teaching an international curriculum as it is most likely not how most of us went to school back when we were younger.  

At times, living overseas isn’t always the easiest thing and there are challenges that present themselves. On the other hand, if you keep an open mind, there are definitely some moments of enlightenment as well!

Want to read more about the guidelines of moving/living abroad?  Check out our blog series called “Ten Commandments of Relocating Overseas.

Recruitment Reflections II: London

“It is a world of carbonized paper and paper messages passed furtively from school to candidate and back again. It is a world of snap judgements and horse trading. It is a world where the relief at having survived trumps the ludicrous farce in which we all play a part.

Each year we hire more and more teachers outside the fairs. It is becoming the norm. It is only a matter of time before the fairs fall into obvious decline then pass into history. However, for as long as they are touted as the way we do business they will continue to torment thousands of teachers, bleeding hundreds of thousands of dollars from schools when that money ought to be better spent paying teachers more and serving the students in our schools...

Now that is some real insight into the recruitment fair experience, from the administrator’s perspective. 

Heading off to a recruitment fair anyway?  For some helpful advice, check out our blog series called Nine Lessons Learned Regarding International School Hiring Fairs.”  As a sneak peek, lesson number one is “Bad interviews are good things.

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Want to work for an international school in Sub-Saharan Africa like this blogger?  Currently, we have 156 international schools listed in this area of the world. 57 have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

• The American School of Kinshasa (Kinshasa, Congo (DRC))52 Comments
• 
International Community School Addis Ababa (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)61 Comments
• 
Saint Andrews International High School (Blantyre, Malawi)41 Comments
• 
TLC International School (Nouakchott, Mauritania)43 Comments
• 
The International School of Dakar (Dakar, Senegal)30 Comments
 Khartoum International Community School (Khartoum, Sudan)65 Comments
 International School of Tanganyika (Dar es salaam, Tanzania)141 Comments
• Kampala International School (Kampala, Uganda)50 Comments
• American International School of Lusaka (Lusaka, Zambia)45 Comments

Additionally, there are 87 International School Community members who currently live in Sub Saharan Africa. Check out which ones and where they work here.  Feel free to go ahead and contact them with any questions that you might have as well; nice to get first hand information about what it is like to live and work there!

* If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Singapore

August 13, 2015


Around the world, there are cities that have more than one international school. Many times there is an American school, a British School, and an international school that uses an international curriculum.

Some cities, though, have MANY international schools!  When that is the case, how do the comments about each school compare to each other?

This blog series looks at comparing some of these comments, all coming from international schools in the same city.

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Singapore

Currently, we have 23 schools listed in Singapore on International School Community.

Schools with the most submitted comments:
EtonHouse International School (Singapore) (30 comments)
ACS (International) Singapore (10 comments)
International School Singapore (17 comments)
One World International School (16 comments)
Overseas Family School Singapore (16 comments)
Singapore American School (17 comments)
St. Joseph’s Institution International (7 comments)

School’s Location

“The 2 campuses are in the west side and east side of the city. The west side, Lakeside, is on the MRT line that will go into the city centre. The east coast campus, Tanjong Katong, you need to take a bus to the MRT which will then go into the city. The bus will also take you into downtown within about half an hour to 40 mins depending on where you live. Most staff take the MRT (subway) or a bus to school. Many also ride bicycles. You choose where you want to live, so you can be as close or as far as you want from the school.” – Canadian International School (Singapore)

“The campus is located in the east coast of Singapore close to East Coast Park and seafront. It is approximately 8 kilometres from CBD & 15 kilometres to the airport.” – Etonhouse International School (Singapore)

“It has an excellent location. It is right next to the Orchard Road metro stop. 5-10 minute walk from that metro station exit. Orchard Road is one of the main shopping and commercial distract. Plenty of malls, stores and food options. Teachers don’t tend to live centrally because it can be more expensive.” – International School Singapore

“The school campus is in the eastern area/coast of Singapore. It could take you 20 minutes or so to get to the center of the city.” – One World International School

Hiring Policy

“SAS attends the London Fair, but many teachers are also hired via Skype interview.” – Singapore American School

“OFS normally does not advertise and they do not go to any recruiting fairs. Hiring process is by CV received and the need of what teacher for the next year.” – Overseas Family School Singapore

“I interviewed with this school last March. It was over Skype with the elementary principal. She was very nice. The interview was professional, but also a bit informal which is what I prefer, a more casual conversation about my teaching experience and the school. I actually was emailed again to have a 2nd interview. After the 2nd interview I was told that they were going to go with a local hire. She told me that they have hired expat in the past that have been surprised (not prepared) to handle the high cost of living in Singapore vs. the salary and benefits of the school.” – International School Singapore

“The school prefers to hire western expatriates with at least 3 to 5 years experience. 60 years old is the age limit for hiring. Singapore has stringent entry criteria so single teachers are preferred by the school.” – Etonhouse International School (Singapore)

Housing Allowance

“Refund of actual rent amount and allowance up to a cap of US$1000 per month.” – Singapore American School

“You get 2000 Singapore dollars for a housing allowance (which is included in your salary) for a single teacher.” – International School Singapore

“Housing allowance is more like 1500 USD.” – One World International School

“Housing is 2000$, quite low considering cost of living.” – Etonhouse International School (Singapore)

Other Benefits

“Settling-in allowance 750 Sing. Moving allowance 500 Sing. Flight allowance is every two years. Teachers get free lunch at school.” – Etonhouse International School (Singapore)

“There is a paid flight here and back to the country of origin at the end of that first contract. Flights remain at every two years after the first contract. There is an allowance of 1000 Singapore dollars at the beginning and end of the contract to transport personal effects.” – International School Singapore

“I got 350 USD for a moving allowance. You get a return airfare to your home every two years.” – One World International School

“Annual home leave (excursion fare), based on home of record. Settling-in allowance is $1500, double for married couples. There is a moving allowance, it is based on weight/volume.” – Singapore American School

(These are just 4 of the 65 different comments topics that on each school profile page on our website.)

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If you work at an international school in Singapore, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited premium membership!

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