Education Major Opens Door to International Teaching Through Magellan

Created: February 10, 2017
Last Updated: January 15, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (Jan. 20, 2017) — Autumn Trembow, a senior child development and education major at Washington & Jefferson College (W&J), is no stranger to the saying “When one door closes, another door opens.” For her, those doors have been opportunities to combine her love of teaching with the chance to travel the world.

Autumn’s international interest first grew after she went on an intersession trip to teach algebra and geometry at the bilingual Cloud Forest School in Costa Rica. The experience instilled in her a desire to continue to explore and teach in different cultures around the world.

The next door opened when she embarked on a Magellan Project to teach English as a Second Language in Beijing, China, through the educational agency U.S. Chinese Culture Center. The agency coordinated different school placements for her where she taught students aged 2-7 for six weeks.

Autumn’s favorite school was Beijing 21st Century International School. Though she only was there for a short amount of time, she got to know her students individually, spending most of her day with one class of 10 children. A portion of the day included teaching a formal lesson according to the “theme” of the week using an array of vocabulary words, stories, and songs. After her formal lesson, Autumn spent the rest of the day speaking English with her students to work on their conversational skills.

Most of her summer was spent at her last placement at Huijia Kindergarten. She taught three classes of about 20 students each. The school provided Autumn with a curriculum to use that included words, songs, stories, cartoons, and interactive games for the students to learn English. The time at Huijia allowed her to gradually connect with her students more than the other two placements, which made leaving all the more difficult.

“When the last class that I taught was told by their head teacher that I was leaving, they all ran up to me and gave me a big group hug shouting ‘teacher Autumn!’ I nearly broke down crying because I genuinely didn’t want to leave them,” she said. “That feeling once again confirmed that I am on the right career path for me. Being able to make a difference in kids’ lives by teaching is so rewarding, and I can’t wait to get a classroom of my own.”

For Autumn, it’s no longer a question of when she’ll have her own classroom, but where.

“My current certification track is grades 4-8 mathematics, but I still am grateful that I had this completely opposite experience of teaching English to preschool/kindergartners,” Autumn said.

Luckily for Autumn, she learned that the doors she opened through her experiences abroad have not yet closed for good. The principal at Beijing 21st Century International School offered Autumn a full-time position after graduation, and she also has an opportunity to return to Cloud Forest School in Costa Rica.

For now, Autumn is keeping an open mind as she heads into her last semester at W&J, but she credits her Magellan with giving her the confidence to consider taking a year or two off to teach abroad before pursuing a long-term job in the U.S.

“There are still numerous places where I would love to go and teach; so I am keeping an open mind until I need to decide this upcoming spring,” said Autumn.

 

About the Magellan Project

Established in 2008, Washington & Jefferson College’s unique Magellan Project extends liberal arts learning outside the classroom by providing scholarship funding for students to spend the summer pursuing independent projects and internships in the United States and abroad. Learn more about the Magellan Project on the W&J website.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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