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Featuring Gabrielle Fairbaugh '11

Gabrielle Fairbaugh

Position: 2nd Grade Teacher

School: Academia Los Pinares

Location: Tegucigalpa, Honduras

(Profiled: November 2011)


♦  How did you connect with this job opportunity?
♦  What attracted you to this position?
♦  What are the most gratifying aspects of your job?
♦  What has been/was your biggest challenge as a first-year teacher?
♦  How did your time at GCC prepare you for the teaching field?
♦  What advice would you give to a current pre-service teacher in order to better prepare for his or her future classroom?
♦  What job search tips would you give to GCC students?
♦  What are the challenges and rewards of teaching in another culture?
♦  What are the challenges and rewards of living in another culture?


How did you connect with this job opportunity?
I visited the school in my senior year of high school (for 2 weeks and volunteered in 1st grade), through church contacts (my home church pastor had been a pastor in Honduras for 11 years), and loved it! I found their website when I began applying for jobs and applied online.

What attracted you to this position?

♦  I was attracted by the Christian school atmosphere

♦  The unique ministry of working with the future leaders of Honduras, (Academia Los Pinares serves a large part of the upper class of Hondurans)

♦  The supportive atmosphere for my first year teaching (mentor and grade level leader teachers),

♦  Collaborating with 2 other second grade teachers

♦  Living in a Latin American culture and developing and using my Spanish!

What are the most gratifying aspects of your job?
♦  Working with the students if definitely the most rewarding part! Seeing their learning and success is so awesome!

♦  Applying things that I learned at college which allow me to feel at home and prepared in the classroom. This confirms that I have ideas and some knowledge to offer that will help me work with the other more experienced teachers.

♦  Living with other teachers to discuss ideas and collaborate easily at night.


What has been your biggest challenge as a first-year teacher?
I think the biggest challenge has just been that everything I'm teaching is something I'm teaching for the very first time. It takes me a great deal of time just to know my subjects and what I am teaching and trying to figure out what will help the students learn best. When I look at the other teachers I see that they already know what they will be teaching—and how to tie things together for the future months of the year—and are able to go more in depth or catch errors that students will most likely make; whereas, this is challenging for me since I have never taught the material before. So overall, just the newness of the material and learning it week by week (and trying to not feel overwhelmed by it all!) has been the biggest challenge.

How did your time at GCC prepare you for the teaching field?
♦  My classes at GCC gave me great preparation in how to present material and ways to teach and interact with the students.

♦  They taught me how to collaborate with others, and the benefit of sharing ideas

♦  Knowing all of the essential aspects of (and how to write) a lesson plan was very beneficial.

♦  The professionalism and confidence I gained while at GCC has definitely been a benefit and helps me when interacting with administration and parents.

♦  My student teaching experience gave me some classroom management experience which was very helpful when beginning my own classroom.

♦  Also, many of the seminars during student teaching practicum were so helpful! (I use the magic trash idea given by one presenter who was a long-term substitute in the Grove City district, and it's been wonderful).

♦  Overall, the teaching and experience at GCC combined into a good balance that allowed me to feel prepared for this year of teaching—even though I am still learning so much every day!


What advice would you give to a current pre-service teacher in order to better prepare for his or her future classroom?

♦  Take ideas from your student teaching experience! Look at what your co-op does, and then adapt his/her strategies and try your own ideas.  For example, integrate your personal style to classroom management (if you have the freedom to try different techniques) or group activities, desk arrangements, etc.

♦  Your co-op is there to offer advice and help you so take advantage of his/her expertise, especially when you don't have the added burden of dealing with parents and administrators and other full-time teacher responsibilities. 

♦  I would also advise pre-service teachers to really take the time to get to know the students they are teaching and try to make an impact for Christ in their life. You are only with them for 7 short weeks—so make it count!

What job search tips would you give to GCC students?

♦  Apply to numerous jobs! Just going through the application/interviewing process for different jobs lets you see how different schools handle things and what their focuses are.

♦  As you will learn in practicum, you are interviewing the school as much as they are interviewing you, so take the time to find out things about the different schools where you are applying.

♦  Take Education Career Service’s advice and do your best to be prepared—plan and write you resume and practice your interview. Consider the things you can do now to help you feel prepared for applying/interviewing for jobs.  This preparation can make a huge difference!

Remember to pray about your decision and trust that God will lead you!

What are the challenges and rewards of teaching in another culture?

♦  There are so many of both! For me, the rewards definitely outweigh the challenges, however! The rewards for me are that I am getting to work with a unique population of students and train some of this country's future leaders perhaps! (Quite exciting and lots of responsibility)

♦  I enjoy my adorable students and their wonderful accents. However, it is often a challenge to be teaching a class full of ESL/ELL students, when I lack much training in that area.

♦  The culture is also very rewarding—Hondurans are so welcoming and friendly. However, the culture also presents challenges—learning about and interacting in a culture different from my “home” culture, I want to be sure that my actions are acceptable and that I will not unknowingly offend any families. So, the challenges and rewards go both ways; but, overall I see many more rewards!


What are the challenges and rewards of living in another culture?

♦  The challenges of living in another culture (particularly in Honduras) include not being able to speak to everyone and accepting that misunderstandings are going to occur.

♦  Also, a challenge is the lack of safety and loss of independence compared to what I was used to in the States.

♦  The rewards of living in another culture are getting to make new friends and meet other believers in the body of Christ! I am part of a Spanish-speaking church and getting to know Hondurans outside of the school atmosphere is such a blessing!

♦  Other rewards include adventures in navigating a new area (with a foreign language!)

♦  I enjoy the opportunities to serve so many people. There are so many nearby opportunities to serve at orphanages, feeding centers, etc.  These serving opportunities are always a blessing to me as well as to the receiver.

It is rewarding when I am able to use my Spanish and communicate with others, or attend a Spanish bible study and know what went on!

Getting to experience new foods and activities is also wonderful!


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