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Teachers with international experience

Regulus // Issue 3 // November 2022

More news for Staff

Teachers, Valerie and Ben Eves during their time teaching in Kuala Lumpur.

A number of teachers at St Andrew’s have gained experience teaching overseas, or have come here to teach from another country, which is hugely beneficial to the College, says Head of Secondary School, Evert van Florenstein.

“It is a big thing to say goodbye to everything you know and work in a place where you don’t have connections without your usual support networks. Teachers either returning to New Zealand, or coming from overseas, bring a fresh approach and enhanced skill set, along with a global understanding of different education styles.”

Evert was born in the Netherlands and immigrated to New Zealand as a young boy. After eight years of teaching experience in Napier, Evert headed off for his OE to teach in Sweden and the Netherlands. Rector, Christine Leighton, and Assistant Head of Secondary School (Data), Sarah Exon, are other senior leaders who have taught overseas, alongside 20 current teachers in the Secondary School.

In mid-2013, after five years teaching at Westlake Boys’ School, Head of Physical Education, Ben Eves, decided it was ‘now or never’ to move to London. He spent a year teaching at PCRU Schools (referral units) and a primary school in Wembley before becoming Head of Physical Education and Head of Middle School at a beautiful International Baccalaureate (IB) school in Munich, Germany. “My biggest learning was that it really is a big wide world out there. I met students who came from vastly different backgrounds than I grew up with. I also found that the students who were the busiest, attending to all aspects of their Hauora on a day-to‑day basis through their curricular and co‑curricular pursuits, were the ones who tended to be the most successful.”

While attending a professional development day at an IB school in the Austrian Alps, Ben met his future wife, Valerie, who is originally from upstate New York, and the rest, as she says is history. “I taught at the school in Austria for seven years and completed my Master of Science in Research in Teaching and Learning at Oxford University at the same time. After we met, Ben and I accepted teaching positions at a private IB school in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where I was Head of Social Sciences and Ben was Head of Physical Education.”

Ben competed his Master's degree while in Malaysia, and after he and Valerie welcomed their daughter in 2018, they decided the time was right to think about a move to New Zealand. Ben took up a Physical Education teaching role, before being appointed the Head of Physical Education at St Andrew’s, and has been working hard to build the College’s basketball programme. Valerie is currently the Teacher in Charge of Social Studies at St Andrew’s, and is a History teacher. She has been named as Head of Social Sciences from 2023.

After teaching in IB schools, both say the re-adjustment to New Zealand’s NCEA system was the steepest learning curve, but the support of colleagues and the College helped them to quickly adapt.

The rich experiences international teachers bring into the classroom get students thinking globally and beyond their own experiences, says Valerie. “I like to take History students ‘travelling’ with me in class as we explore international case studies. Stories and resources I have picked up from places around the world also help to contextualise the students’ learning.”

Ben says there are many advantages to having teachers with international experience on the team. “International experience brings a greater understanding of the tikanga of different cultures and adds to the tapestry of our kura.”

Teachers with international experience bring fresh and valuable insights, skills and variety to our students' education.