Concordia Shanghai Sep 13 2023

Why Concordia Shanghai? Stories from Real Teachers and Why they Chose Concordia Shanghai for their Next Teaching Chapter

As a teacher, making the choice for the next step in your teaching career is a significant decision. At Concordia International School Shanghai, we understand that there are a lot of factors that come into play when making such an important decision, especially when it could mean relocating to a new country.

We spoke with some of our own teachers who have been in the position of deciding whether Concordia was the right fit for them. We hope that by sharing their stories you can see for yourself why they chose Concordia Shanghai as their next career move and what makes Concordia one of the best international schools in Shanghai. 

Sasha, MS Languages Arts Teacher

Meet Sasha, an exceptional educator whose journey exemplifies the transformative power of teaching. Though she was originally a Criminal Sciences major, she quickly found her calling after an experience teaching disadvantaged children ignited a newfound passion. Armed with a degree from the University of North Florida, Sasha began teaching right out of college, focusing on perfecting her craft while earning a Masters degree in Curriculum Instruction. Yet, her ambitions stretched beyond the horizon – a dream to explore the world and find her own peace.

Concordia teacher's Stories

Having lost some of the spark in her love for teaching while in the United States, she was inspired by friends who were enjoying teaching overseas in Japan. Though initially hesitant, Sasha soon found herself seeking international teaching opportunities, and by 2019 she was teaching at a bilingual school in Shanghai. With faith as her compass, she embraced the uncertainties that came with this new chapter, realizing that life's most enriching moments reside beyond one’s comfort zones.

“I had a feeling that I would say was the Holy Spirit guiding me and saying, Shanghai is going to be the place for you. And it was a nagging feeling that wouldn't go away. I knew that it was something I need to at least try.. It required a lot of faith; it was super risky for me, but I also felt like I couldn't keep living my life the way that it was.”

While teaching at the bilingual school in Shanghai, Sasha heard talk of other top international schools in the city and was intrigued at the prospect of teaching at Concordia. It was during a challenging period of online learning that Sasha took the chance on herself and submitted an application to teach at Concordia. Soon enough, Sasha had an offer. She was soon enveloped by the warm and welcoming community at Concordia.

Sasha HR Bundle D1 (1)

“There's just a different feel there. I can't quite describe what it is, but I think it's that everyone is there for the same purpose and they truly are passionate about what they're doing. I quickly came to realize that Concordia is not just a school, it's a community. It's a family. You get to know people and they become your actual true friends that you want to spend your life with.“

Remembering stepping onto campus her first time, she recalls a sense of warmth to it, with bright classrooms and happy students and staff. For Sasha, the sense of community at Concordia has been a key component to her continued success as an educator, and her overall happiness in her personal life. 

“It's not just like a ‘hi and bye’ thing. People will actually sit down and want to talk to you about what's  going on in your life and not just talk to you about work. I think it's one of the things that's really truly unique about teaching at Concordia is the community that has come out of it.”

Not only has Sasha found a community at Concordia Shanghai, but she also met and married her husband, Gabriel, while living in China. Living in Shanghai gave them both the opportunity to meet, as Gabriel was from Ghana and Sasha was from the U.S. 

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“He started coming to church with me, serving at church with me as well. Almost immediately my church family and community just warmed to him right away and everybody was so excited and happy for me. We just connected.”

Having taught at Concordia Shanghai for a few years, Sasha reflects on how much her life has changed in such a short time. 

“I've grown so much in the positions that I'm in. I've learned so much more than I've probably learned in my whole career just being here at Concordia. It's the mentorship, the way people are willing to jump in and take care of each other and just the ‘with-itness’ is awesome.”

Concordia Shanghai’s word for the 2023/2024 school year is “Renewal.” Learn more about the transformational journey Concordia is currently undertaking to revitalize our school. 

Sasha has some words of inspiration to fellow teachers considering taking the same leap she did to begin her adventure of teaching at Concordia Shanghai.

“It's scary, but if you're lucky enough to get a position at Concordia, it will be one of the best decisions that you've made in your life, and you can't know until you do it.”

Edgar, EC Kindergarten Teacher

Meet Edgar, a vibrant and engaging teacher that brings a spark of joy to his Kindergarten classroom. Born in Chicago and raised in Iowa, Edgar could never have predicted he would one day be living and teaching at Concordia. But when love came into his life in an unexpected way, Edgar knew he had to take a leap of faith and follow his heart to China. 

Teacher inspiring stories

Edgar and his wife, Katherine, have a unique  story of how they met. Edgar was working at the International Student Association at the school they both attended, and he was connected to her through a friend to practice her language skills. After seven months of connecting online, Edgar flew to China to meet her in person, a decision that changed the trajectory of his life.

Another major change Edgar made during his time at the University of Northwestern Iowa was to change his major away from Business, feeling that crunching numbers and macroeconomics was not his true calling. After volunteering as a coach, he discovered his love of teaching and knew he had found the right path for himself. 

“What really clicked after coaching for three years was how much coaching is like teaching. In coaching you're teaching someone how to kick a ball, pass a ball, but with teaching you're teaching a student how to read, how to write, how to do math. What we're trying to do is  guide students in a positive way on how to do these important things.”

Having lived in China since 2014, Edgar applied for a position at Concordia Shanghai and happily accepted the role. Remembering his early years at Concordia, Edgar recounts how smooth the transition process was, even in the midst of the COVID pandemic. He found that Concordia was incredibly organized and supportive when it came to submitting documents and preparing for his role as a teacher. But more than that, Concordia staff were there to support his family in ways he had never imagined.

HR Bundle D1- Edgar (1)

“The principal of the Early Years department actually greeted us and gave me the keys to the apartment. He also gave us a tour of the apartment, and inside there was already a 24 pack of water, some fresh produce and some things to make coffee, paper rolls, towels, toilet paper, brand new pillows, quilts and even some borrowed furniture. I thought, ‘oh my gosh, I can't believe this. There's already things for us here.’”

Concordia even provided a temporary bed so his daughter had a comfortable place to sleep upon arrival. 

“Just walking into the apartment, it was heartwarming to see  the necessities there already.”

As a well-seasoned member of the Concordia Shanghai community, Edgar now has the pleasure of seeing his young daughter on campus as well. Now going into second grade, he beams with pride over her advanced reading abilities and her creative spirit. His daughter even wrote her own book called “Super First Grade Teachers,” where she bestowed super powers to her teachers. Edgar is also happy to see his daughter interact with students from all over the world and make connections, while also balancing impressive academic development.

Concordia teacher's Stories

“I think that's one standout feature of Concordia, is we prepare the students to be the leaders of tomorrow and be great citizens, but also be good at academics.”
At the end of the day, it’s the community at Concordia that Edgar keeps coming back to, and is what has made his experience teaching at Concordia so memorable.

“When I think about teaching at Concordia, I think of the word ‘community’ and community in a sense of everyone just being helpful and helping each other out. Whether it's teacher helping teacher, teacher helping student, even student helping teacher.”

We spoke with another teacher at Concordia Shanghai and dove into her story of how she came to teach at Concordia. 

Naomi, MS Mathematics Teacher

Meet Naomi, a self-described “math nerd” with almost a decade of experience teaching at Concordia Shanghai and  one of many teaching couples at Concordia. Before teaching at Concordia, Naomi got her education at the University of Iowa with a degree in Elementary Education before quickly moving to far-flung corners of the world to begin her teaching career.

Naomi and her husband, Casey, a fellow teacher at Concordia, began their international teaching adventure in Dubai, soon working at a school in Panama. She had always been interested in traveling, but it was Casey’s influence that helped her see her potential in being an international teacher. 

“In high school I had done a lot of traveling. I had done trips with my church to do some focused projects. I just fell in love with learning about new countries and cultures and I just felt like this is my path and I felt passionate about it. It was meeting my husband that got me really deep into international teaching. When I met him, he was going off and teaching abroad. That was one of the turning points for me, meeting him and getting more enthusiastic about the international teaching route.”

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The decision wasn’t without its own set of challenges for them to overcome as a couple. When Naomi accepted the offer to teach at Concordia, their daughter was only eight months old at the time. Recalling her time in her earlier years at Concordia, she remembers getting a bit lost in the spacious campus, but always finding a way to orient herself in her new surroundings. She received valuable support from the existing community at Concordia Shanghai.

“I had a co-worker who really walked alongside me and helped me get through that first year. I found a kindred spirit in her because she was a math person as well. Just finding someone who also is passionate about math like I am, it was really nice to have someone who is willing to talk and sit and do those things. Looking back to the first year, having somebody who was willing to walk alongside me to help me through that first year was pretty key to getting through that.”

Armed with her years of experience teaching at Concordia Shanghai, Naomi is ready for the next step in her math career. She has taken on a role as Curriculum Leader, thanks to encouragement from her colleagues who see her great potential. 

“Just being around the people who supported me and encouraged me to get here, I was like, ‘you know what? This is a great place. This is a good place to do this and I'm excited for this role.’”

Heartwarming inspiring stories

Not only has she taken on a leadership position within the community, but Naomi was the first faculty member to travel for a professional development opportunity post-COVID. She traveled to Stanford University to attend workshops, and just having the ability to travel and learn has sparked a light within the community once again. 

Concordia places great value on professional development, and as a resource-rich school, Naomi always has access to the tools she needs to turn her classroom into an engaging learning experience for her students. 

“Just knowing that if it's good for students, the school's willing to consider it and to have that for teachers. It’s been so refreshing.”

Spoiled in more ways than one, Naomi has the privilege of seeing her entire family on campus.

“I appreciate that there's one commute, we can all come together. We're in one location. My son’s room will be right down the hallway from my room this year, and my daughter is old enough to come from wherever her room is this year down to mine.”

Teacher inspiring stories

Naomi reflects on the profound sense of comfort she finds in the Concordia community. Her words encapsulate a sentiment that runs deep within the heart of our school, capturing the essence of shared faith and genuine care that binds its community together.

“There's a depth to our community that's different. As a believer myself, it just feels comforting and it's a wonderful thing to know that there might be someone in the school praying for my child at any moment and to know that topics of faith are coming up and that we can have a conversation.”

Teach with Purpose at Concordia Shanghai

These educators' stories offer a source of inspiration, highlighting the significance of discovering a supportive community that fosters both professional development and personal transformation. Concordia Shanghai serves as a hub where educators and families flourish, their journeys converging to establish a distinct international learning atmosphere.


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