Home > Member Spotlights > Member spotlight #2: Christy Niemeyer

Member spotlight #2: Christy Niemeyer

Every 6th and 27th of each month International School Community will highlight one of our members.  This month we interviewed Christy Niemeyer:

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?
I am from Southern California. I was living and working as a fourth grade teacher for San Diego City schools before teaching abroad.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?
It all started on New Year’s Eve 2003. I was talking with someone at a party whose sister was teaching in Malaysia. This person was telling me the exciting and lucrative life her sister was leading by working internationally. I had never heard of international schools, and as I was looking for a change, I knew this was the exact kind of change I was looking for. Three months later, I accepted a job at the American School of Barcelona. Not exactly a lucrative job, but it was an amazing opportunity.

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.
I have worked at two international schools so far. The first was, as I mentioned, The American School of Barcelona. It is a small school, which makes it easy to get to know both students and teachers alike. It also honors both local and multicultural traditions. Students participate in making cakes called Monas, which are cakes decorated with different themes, a local tradition. This happens around Easter. To honor other cultures, students participate in Santa Lucia celebrations (a Swedish tradition), American Halloween, and Chinese Shadow puppets, just to name a few.

I now work at Seoul International School, in South Korea. The school facility itself has a lot of character since it resembles a Korean palace, and there are Korean sculptures throughout the campus. I find this school unique because of its amazing choir and junior orchestra program. This is the first time I have worked at a school which nourishes the musical talents of students so well. During the holidays, the junior choir performed beautiful songs with the junior choir from Korean International School, our neighboring international school. It was great seeing students from the two schools perform together and they sounded amazing.

Describe your latest cultural encounter in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
Taking a cab ride back from the airport last week, our driver seemed to want to accommodate us by playing a mixed tape of songs (loudly) in English: Bridge Over Troubled Water, and You Are Not Alone were just a few tunes played. I really felt it was for our benefit which cracked me up. I find the local people here so kind, and they often go out of their way to be helpful.

What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
The job itself is the most important since I will be spending most of my time at work, thus I look at the integrity of the school and that it utilizes the best resources, technology, and school programs. I also like to talk to teachers who are currently working there and get their impressions of the school. Salary and benefits is also a huge consideration. Finally, the school location is also important to me, especially in terms of climate and safety.

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
Rewarding, eye-opening, fun, flexible, and ADDICTIVE

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