Every educator has a different reason for why they chose their career path. For some, they were inspired by a teacher when they were young. Others want to share their own deep study and knowledge with younger generations. No matter the reason, every member of our school community is important, and their journeys and stories matter.

At BASIS International School Guangzhou, three members of our school faculty and staff shared why they became educators in honor of the 38th Teachers’ Day in China. Their inspirations are diverse and insightful, read more below.

Nicole Sittie, Vice Head of School & Head of ECE

Vice Head of School Nicole Sittie

As a little girl growing up in the 1980s in New Zealand, I remember looking at the walls of my classrooms. I believed I would decorate the rooms differently if I were the teacher. I would adjust the titles of the posters to be bigger, make a corner specifically for our classroom pets, and call it the classroom zoo! I do not have memories of me telling my teachers to change their layout; however, just because I don’t have those memories isn’t to say I didn’t tell them how to design their classroom!

Many years later, in my early 20s, I graduated from University and decided to teach English in Osaka, Japan. I hadn’t anticipated enjoying teaching as much as I did, and this excitement of teaching led me to return to New Zealand and study education.

In a few years, I quickly became a qualified Primary School teacher and taught in New Zealand schools. It wasn’t too long after the travel bug caught hold of me. I was back off traveling and then teaching as a primary school homeroom teacher at international schools in Egypt, Togo (West Africa), Shanghai, and now BASIS International School Guangzhou.

Jack Zhao, Dean of High School

Dean of High School Jack Zhao

This year is my thirteenth year as a teacher. Being a teacher was the biggest turning point in my life, as I did not want to be a teacher when I was a child. So why did I decide to be a teacher? This had to do with three people.

The first and most important person is Steve Jobs. Yes, the founder of Apple. He didn’t know me, but his commencement speech at Stanford University inspired me to look into myself for the first time and think about how to live a meaningful life. He said, “You need to look for a career you love, and if you don’t find it, keep looking.” Watching this video in the office cubicle of a foreign company, I suddenly realized that this wasn’t a job I loved and that my life would be meaningless if I stayed here. Then the next question popped in my mind: how do I find a career I love?

Then the second person, Tina Seelig, a professor at Stanford University stepped in. Her book “What I Wish I Knew When I was 20” was a great inspiration to me. The book provided me with a very easy way to find a career path: first, you have to know what you are interested in; second, you have to be capable of it; last but not least, it has to have a market. These three tips helped me navigate my thoughts, and I got the answer: I should be an English teacher! I had been interested in English since I was a child; I was very good at English; and the English tutoring industry was in full swing in China.

However, there’s a long way to go between being a teacher and being a good teacher. Then the third person showed up and taught me how to be a good teacher. He was my student; or to be more specific, he was the first student who nagged the headmaster about me after I finished my first class. He made me realize that I still had a lot to work on. I began to observe the classes of experienced teachers; I did a lot of reading on pedagogy; and I worked on ways to build stronger relationships with my students. Whenever I look back on this, I always feel grateful to the student. As Kazuo Inamori said, we should be grateful for all setbacks and failures, as they motivate change and improvement.

Vincent Hu, School Counselor

School Counselor Vincent Hu

During my PhD years, my initial plan was to work on the fundamental research of psychology: I wanted to demystify how brain impacts one’s ability to regulate emotions. Then after I got a chance to translate works of psychotherapy, I started to fall in love with counseling.

Seeking counseling is a brave and healthy approach that will lead us to lifelong learning and guidance, and I want to be the person who is always there to support people in need. My job as a school counselor at BIGZ is fulfilling. I will always remind myself to help students navigate their next steps and equip them with tools to grow and cope with challenges.

For more information on teaching with BASIS International Schools, visit our careers website.

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