This school year we are starting a new blog series called “Meet the Teacher.” Each post will feature one of our outstanding faculty members and provide a look into international teaching life, along with advice for teachers considering an international opportunity.
Our first teacher is Evelyn Larue, Art teacher at BASIS International School Shenzhen. Miss Larue is from Chicago, Illinois, USA and has been teaching art for 17 years. This will be her third year teaching with BASIS International Schools, and she has also taught at our campuses in Guangzhou and Park Lane Harbour, China. She is one of our network wide Subject Advisers and a great member of our creative community!
What made you decide to go into teaching?
My mother was my junior high art teacher and so my 12 year-old self swore I would never become an art teacher. I was going to be an artist. My mother was a weaver growing up; I loved sneaking into her studio with a giant loom encompassing the whole room. For a long time, I focused on 2-D and got my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting. I incorporated elements of fiber into my paintings over the years, but it wasn’t until I started a sewing club at BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour, and this year implementing a textiles class at BASIS International School Shenzhen that I realized how ingrained my passion for textiles is. Ironically, I have to acknowledge my mother was my inspiration to go into teaching as I follow in my mother’s footsteps. Although, I’ve taken quite a different path getting here.
When did you first realize you had a passion for art?
Art is my first language. I didn’t learn how to read and write until I was eight. When asked to write I would draw a picture instead. If I did write it was this quizzical arrangement of shapes and sounds.
My mom loves telling this story of when I was roughly two years old. I had drawn a picture of a large stick figure and a smaller stick figure behind it, followed by an even smaller stick figure behind that. She was enamored that her two year old was drawing perspective. She had planned to frame it, but I had dashed all her hopes when she came home shortly after that to find that I had ripped it up into pieces and was using it for another project. She’s still angry about that. 🙂 Interestingly, I have found that I have always worked from this theme of ‘destroying and mending’ throughout my years as an artist.
What influenced your decision to teach abroad?
I have always wanted to live abroad. I had a short stint in London after my bachelor’s degree when I was twenty two or twenty three years old. But, instead of pursuing my life as an artist, I found myself as a bar wench in a British pub very far from the creative East Side of the city.
After meagerly exploring Europe, I returned back to the States. I received my master’s in Art Therapy and found myself developing art programs in alternative spaces, working in after-school programs, residential treatment centers, juvenile detention centers, and eventually into jails and prisons.I was extremely passionate about this line of work, but I still longed to live abroad.
An opportunity came up in late 2016, and at age 35 I thought, “If not now, when?” I couldn’t be happier with my decision. I enjoy thinking of myself as an expat.
What do you enjoy most about teaching internationally?
The diversity of faculty is what I enjoy most about teaching internationally. Listening, understanding, and building upon international constructs to create an educational foundation for our students is progressive and important. I believe in the education I am providing. I would not have this outlook if I did not the influences around me.
When you came to China, what did you find pleasantly surprising that you didn’t expect?
While China was not initially the first location I thought of when considering living and teaching abroad, I have come to embrace and truly enjoy the experience. You will save money, anything and everything can be delivered to your doorstep, you conveniently pay everything with your phone, and you will rely on and create lasting relationships with people from around the world.
What advice would you give teachers who are looking to teach abroad?
The opportunity to live and teach abroad will give you exposure to alternative models of education. This is essential if you are looking to follow a career in education and create solutions in curriculum, instruction, and leadership.
If you are looking to find yourself, you will have the opportunity to travel and explore the world around you.