Teaching as mission jumpstarts education careers

Feb 3, 2014 by and

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LANCASTER, Pa. — While some young adults trained in education struggle to find work as teachers, Rebecca Martin and Malinda Stoner found experience teaching in Peru gave them a distinct advantage in the job market.
Rebecca Martin and Malinda Stoner served together through EMM as teachers at Promesa, a bilingual Christian school in Cusco, Peru. — Photo by Jessica Heindel

Rebecca Martin and Malinda Stoner served together through EMM as teachers at Promesa, a bilingual Christian school in Cusco, Peru. — Photo by Jessica Heindel

In 2010, Martin and Stoner served as teachers at Promesa, a bilingual Christian school in Cusco, Peru, through Eastern Mennonite Missions. When they returned to the U.S., both women quickly found teaching positions.

Now Martin teaches English to Speakers of Other Languages in the upper elementary grades at a public school in Lebanon. Stoner teaches kindergarten at Manheim Christian Day School in Manheim.

At Promesa, Martin taught English to students in various grades. It made her more confident as a teacher.

“As teachers we can get very accustomed to just doing what the book tells us to say instead of thinking outside of the box and figuring out the best way for our students to learn,” she said. “I learned how to teach with very few materials and limited technology, something that has come in very handy when technology fails or when I need a new creative way to teach something.”

Martin and Stoner both felt a long-term call to be teachers and quickly gravitated toward teaching in a mission setting as a way to gain skills and experience.

“I was nervous about applying for jobs after college and also feeling a bit restless,” Stoner said. “Teaching in Peru was kind of an alternative to beginning my job search, but through it I gained valuable educational experience and experienced a new culture.”

Martin said she couldn’t honestly go into an interview for a teaching position and say she was the best teacher when she didn’t know if she could do it.

“I had this random passion for Spanish and thought I would teach for a couple of months and get some experience,” she said. “My plan was to go for a few months. God’s plan was a tad bit different.”

Martin and Stoner both taught for a year at Promesa. Returning to the U.S., they encountered an educational system inundated with teachers. Both think their experience abroad was an asset in finding a position in the U.S.

“I was told that another applicant and I were both equally qualified, but my ability to speak Spanish and my previous teaching experiences made me the best fit for the job,” Martin said.

Stoner said while in Peru she was contacted by a school she had worked in previously. When she returned, she interviewed there and was given a position.

“I think that my international experience was a big plus since we are a school that emphasizes learning about different cultures,” she said.

EMM staff are finding growing demand for teachers overseas. Troy Landis, an EMM discipleship coach, said EMM has opportunities for teachers from preschool to university.


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