How did you connect with this job
opportunity? Although I was already familiar with BFA from
personal connections in my hometown, I first became aware of job
opportunities at the school from a BFA recruiter who visited the Student
Union at GCC. After speaking with the recruiter, I began the application
and got connected with TeachBeyond, my mission agency. (All BFA staff
members are missionaries associated with a particular mission agency.)
What attracted you to this
It's more than just teaching. It's a teaching job, plus so much more. As
a Grove City student, I loved being an RA and taking education classes.
I loved organizing campus events and student teaching at the local
elementary school. I desperately wanted to tie these two parts of myself
together in the post-grad opportunity I chose, but I didn't know what
that looked like. At Black Forest Academy, I am a teacher to fourth
graders, but I play so many other roles. I am mentored by a woman in the
community, have participated in peer Bible studies, lead a small group
of high school girls, and occasionally lead worship for different
occasions. I absolutely love that there is a built-in community here
that promotes deep conversations and strong relational ties. I am
challenged to teach well, but also learn from and invest in others with
What are the most gratifying
aspects of your job?
Sitting around the dinner table with a student and her family, sitting
in the living room of a high school dorm singing worship songs, bumping
into my students in the bumper cars at a fall festival... these are the
times when I think, this is why I do what I do. I love encouraging
others, challenging them in new ways, and ultimately, seeing lives
changed. It's most humbling to know that I couldn't have any impact
without Christ in me; it's most rewarding to know that God is working
What was your biggest challenge as
a first-year teacher?
One challenge as a first-year teacher was not being able to compare the
abilities of my students with a "benchmark" of sorts. I had never taught
fourth grade before, so it was difficult to know whether my fourth grade
students were on par with other fourth graders. With only one class of
each grade, there was no opportunity for same-grade collaboration or
insight. Another challenge was the overwhelming amount of resources and
flexibility to make it my own. While it was exciting to be able to add my
personality to the curriculum, I had to wade through a lot of materials
and lesson ideas that I didn't need to use. As a second year teacher, I
have a much better idea of pacing, connections among subjects, and what to
emphasize. In August, I was able to create a week-by-week block plan for
the year, and that has been a great sketch to follow as I write specific weekly lesson plans.
How did your time at GCC prepare
you for the teaching field?
I had developed a strong work ethic at GCC because of the rigorous
academic environment, so I was disciplined in devoting time to writing
lesson plans, creating thematic units, and developing materials during
my first year of teaching. Perhaps even more importantly, GCC had
prepared me for the challenge of balance. While at Grove City, I learned
the importance of doing work well, but also finding connectedness in
friendships and ministries.
What advice would you give to a
current pre-service teacher in order to better prepare for his or her future
Take advantage of the opportunity to observe current teachers and ask
questions—about management, unique student needs, curriculum,
planning units, classroom routines, etc. Do this with one caution: Don't
assume that you will be able to replicate everything in your own
classroom. You may be teaching a different grade level with different
curriculum at a school with an entirely different set of policies. Most
of all, your students will certainly be different, even from one year to
the next. Be prepared to use the ideas that you have seen work well and
implement the best practices you've studied in classes, but do so with a
sensitivity to students' individualities.
What job search tips would you
give to GCC students?
Take time to think about your passions, as well as your professional
interests. Brainstorm ideas that incorporate one or the other or both. I
had a list of about 10 different directions I could have gone after
graduation—admissions, residence life, grad school, teaching in all
different parts of the world—and I thought I would never narrow down
the possibilities. Be patient and allow God to show Himself faithful in
the waiting process. While you actively research options, send in
applications, and pray about possibilities, allow Him to guide your
heart to where you can serve Him passionately.
What are the challenges and
rewards of teaching in another culture?
Our bilingual school (grades 1-3) is an exciting new program for BFA.
Challenges of homogenous staffs are accentuated when working with staff
from difficult cultures. There are differences in classroom management,
communication of opinions, report card formats, handling misbehavior,
etc. I am on a staff with German teachers, but I do not have a bilingual
classroom, so I am only indirectly affected by these cultural
differences. There are many rewards to having a multicultural classroom.
While eight of my ten students are North American, many in my class
would consider Europe more of a "home" than America, since they have
lived here since they were young. These students have rich background
experiences and a more global perspective on the world. I have fourth
graders who have lived in Canada, the USA, Switzerland, France, Kenya,
Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan—and there are students from over 53 nations
in grades 1-12. The students at BFA represent a unique collection of
cultures that create a beautiful display of God's greatness.
What are the challenges and
rewards of living in another culture?
Naturally, it is challenging to leave behind the familiarities of my
"home culture"—my family, close friends, favorite stores, holiday
celebrations, etc. However, my experience here at BFA is different from
other international experiences because there is such a large community
of North Americans associated with the school. I am extremely blessed to
have many friends here who are in the same position as me—living far
away from family in a culture different from our own. I think it would
be a lot more difficult to thrive as a teacher overseas without the
encouragement and understanding of these friends. Additionally, I find
it very rewarding to be involved in a German church. Singing worship
songs in English and German, as well as attending church alongside
hundreds of German believers, allows me to not only get a different
glimpse of the German culture, but also grow in my faith in new ways.