We asked educators at BASIS International Schools why they chose to become teachers. From a passion for biology to wanting to be the teacher they never had, our educators shared unique backstories that led them to the classroom. Their stories show the significant impact teachers have in inspiring their students to learn, grow, and pursue their passions.   

Kevin Poehner
Chair of MS/HS Social Studies, History Teacher
BASIS International School Nanjing 

The day I decided to become a teacher was the same day I saw Rocky IV for the first time. In an eighth-grade social studies class, Mr. Wright showed us clips from Rocky IV to give us a window into the two Cold War Powers’ views of each other. I realized that day the power and freedom teachers have in the ways they choose to teach us things and that, when used creatively and thoughtfully, the impact can be huge. At that moment, I thought Mr. Wright was so cool, and I thought that I could do it, too. Fast forward 25 years, and I am now finding ways to sneak my passions and interests into my classes and still showing Rocky IV.  

Kim Jenson
Chair of ECE, Kindergarten Teacher
BASIS International School Guangzhou 

One of my friends saw potential in me to be an early years educator and pushed me to get my postgraduate diploma in early childhood education. I loved learning about child development, child psychology, play, and all the great things that are part of teaching the young ones. Even more, I love working with children. Working in Early Childhood at BASIS International School Guangzhou is the best job I have ever had, and I enjoy it every day. I can’t imagine my life if teaching wasn’t in it.  

Dr. John Smith
History & Geography Teacher, Course Advisor – East Asian History
BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour  

I strongly believe that a good teacher must first be a good learner. As someone who considers learning to be the greatest joy our world has to offer, I was always destined to become a teacher. Every job that I have had has involved both teaching and learning. I grew up in a family of teachers. I worked in a daycare center for my first part-time job in high school, while my friends and classmates worked for retail shops and fast-food outlets. Since then, I have taught English in Vietnam and Thailand, served as a teacher’s assistant at the University of Michigan, and spent the last four years teaching history and geography at BASIS. For me, teaching is not just about transmitting information but about demonstrating how to learn. A great teacher is the “lead learner” of the classroom and shows students how to acquire, consolidate, and construct their own understanding of themselves and the world in which they live. I hope to inspire my students towards lifelong learning and growth in the same way that all my teachers, from my parents to my graduate school advisor to my colleagues and administrators at BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour, have inspired me.  

Bige Sozen Kilic
Biology Teacher
BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour   

I became a teacher because of my deep passion for biology. The intricate workings of living organisms have always fascinated me, and I have a strong desire to share this wonder with young minds. Teaching allows me to introduce the awe-inspiring world of biology to students, igniting their curiosity and nurturing a lifelong love for science. Moreover, I believe in the transformative power of education. Guiding young lives, I see the potential for positive change and progress. These students are the architects of our future, and by instilling them with knowledge and a sense of purpose, I am contributing to a better world. Teaching is not just a profession for me; it’s a calling to inspire, shape, and empower the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.  

Mara Gil, MFA
Art Teacher, Visual Arts Coordinator
BASIS International School Shenzhen 

I became a teacher because I wanted to share my extensive and professional knowledge of art with a new generation. I wanted to be the teacher I never had, championing young people to achieve their dreams. Whether those dreams were to be artists themselves or to enrich their lives with art skills that they could use to enhance their personal and professional goals, those with artistic aptitude need an advocate to allow their talent to thrive. Art can be the thing to make them stand out not only in their college application but in life.  

Zoe O’Dea
Chair of MS/HS English, English Teacher
BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen  

I have always had a keen interest in languages and learning. As a student, my fondest and most enjoyable learning experiences were in my English, Irish, and French language classes. This made my career choice for the future very easy. I saw teaching as a way of being a lifelong learner and teaching a global language as a way to expose students to diverse perspectives, literature, and traditions.  

I’m fortunate to be able to say I was taught by teachers whose passion for their job was inspiring. Knowing I could empower students to express themselves effectively, both verbally and in writing, the way my teachers did, was an added motivator for pursuing teaching as a career. 

Riaan Loots
P.E. Teacher
BASIS International & Bilingual School Chengdu 

Teaching has always intrigued me, and what started as a quick stint post-graduation led to a fulfilling career. I started my career as an English teacher and later as a language specialist to help English Language Learners. Then, in 2020, there was an opportunity to help in the Physical Education department during the pandemic. As a qualified coach in CrossFit, Obstacle races, nutrition, and fitness, I soon realized my dream of combining teaching with my background in sports as a coach and an elite athlete.   

My drive as a teacher is to provide my students with the knowledge of how the body works, what the pillars of strength encompass, and integrate social and emotional development through sportsmanship. It fulfills me to instill a love of movement and an understanding of physical capabilities within my students. When your passion becomes your career, the sky is the limit. 

Canden Potgieter
ECE Teacher
BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen  

Most people can recall at least one teacher from their school days, someone who motivated them and made an impact on their lives. For me, it was my third-grade teacher. I was inspired by her enthusiasm in the classroom; she seemed to belong there, making me want to be there.

The decision to become a teacher happened during my “figure-it-out” years. I took a couple of years off after high school, as I was unsure what field I wanted to pursue. I spent a few years waitressing and working as an au pair. On a few occasions, I was able to help my au pair child with homework. I recall one day when he was having difficulty understanding a math concept. I explained and showed him a different way to approach the problem, and he “got it.” It was on this afternoon that I had my “ah-ha” moment and knew exactly what I wanted to do.

To this day, I still think of my third-grade teacher as I strive to be as inspirational and enthusiastic to my students as she was to me. I hope to impact their lives the way she impacted mine.

Now hiring teachers for the 2024-25 school year! Learn more about career opportunities with BASIS International Schools on our careers website.

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