Teacher Feature: Thomas Krause

Early acting headshot

At the November 2019 ISS-Schrole Advantage job fair in Atlanta, Thomas Krause accepted a position teaching 10th Grade English and Middle School Drama at The American School of Quito in Ecuador.

This will be Thomas’ first position at an international school, and we’re so excited to share his journey there! You’ll also hear his advice to educators considering taking the next step for a career in international education.

Hello Tom, please introduce yourself! What should we know about you? Early career path, interests, and fun facts welcome.

Although I was born of two teachers in Scranton, PA, my mother a kindergarten teacher and my father a drafting instructor at a local technical college, I had no early aspirations to teach. As a child and teenager, I was a drama kid, deeply involved in acting, so I naturally ended up studying theater at New York University. I remained in New York City for many years and then moved to Los Angeles, where I lived the life of a young Hollywood hopeful. I managed to get a few small spots on some popular HBO series and some commercial work, but I am most proud of my work with Second City – Hollywood, where I was part of the show Second City This Week that gained popularity in Los Angeles and traveled to Chicago – I even got to get “beat up” on stage by ex-WWF wrestler Roddy “Rowdy” Piper before his passing in 2015 – it was probably the coolest thing that ever happened to me.

What first drew you to being an educator? How did you decide to make the leap into teaching abroad?

In my 30’s, some deep life changes contributed to my taking the leap towards teaching abroad. After acting, I started working in college admissions; I worked for a few colleges but was eventually hired to work for The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in Los Angeles. I’ve gotta say – my office was incredible, top floor and in the corner with a view of the Capitol Records building, but I started longing for more opportunity; as the starving actor I had been for so long, I didn’t get to travel, and as a professional, I was spending most of my time in traffic. I started reflecting on my life up until that point, and I started understanding how much of my life had been spent chasing after my own self-interests. I was feeling trapped – by my life and by my choices. I didn’t just want to see the world, I wanted to contribute to it.

So, I started looking at what in my life was working. As a college admissions advisor, my absolute strongest suit was in my interactions with teenagers. I saw myself in the young people I was working with, fondly remembering my own dreams and aspirations and working to become a person who’d help them out, just as I’d been helped. In time, I accepted my lot in life, I was meant to be an educator. I enrolled into a graduate program for secondary English education and moved back to my more affordable hometown in Pennsylvania to complete it.

Student teaching in Pennsylvania, USA

Sometimes, when you become willing to move in a different direction, you learn all sorts of things that you never knew were along the path.  While in grad school, I started teaching a study skills program to undergrads at a few different colleges in my region, and I met a teacher who had worked abroad. Stunned that something like this even existed, I invited her to dinner and fired off question after question, soaking in everything I could about this wonderful prospect I had honestly never even thought about. By the end of the conversation, I was completely sold: international teaching sounded like the best job in the entire world! I couldn’t be sure, so I decided to do a bit of travelling and get my feet wet. I enrolled in the CELTA program in International House in Cape Town, and I stayed there for a month, living and learning and teaching refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and, by the time I was done, I was positively secured in my future ambitions. I wasn’t just going to be an International teacher; I was an International teacher.

What are you excited to experience in your next school and country?

I’ve landed my first job, and, wait-for-it … I’ll be teaching 10th grade English and middle school drama at The American School in Quito, Ecuador. Could a position be more perfect for someone of my background? There is so much to be excited about. I’ve been in touch with many administrators and future teaching colleagues at the school, and I feel extremely supported in so many ways: as a new teacher, as a new resident of Ecuador, and as a new team member working to adapt to keep education alive in the face of the world’s struggle with a pandemic. I’m going to teach the two subjects I am most passionate about. I’m going to have the opportunity to absorb the beautiful language, food, and culture of South America. I’m going to get to see the rainforests and the Galapagos Islands. Hopefully, I’m going to meet and make lifelong friends with beating hearts and adventurous spirits.

What has your experience with ISS been like?

The team at ISS has been incredible. The website has been easy to use, and the posted jobs are top-notch because I trust the relationships that ISS has built with a wide variety of schools. I’m new at this, admitted, so I seek the advice of people with experience, and ISS offers a ton of helpful advice and experienced feedback. I attended the career fair in Atlanta with my eyes set on a certain position, and I didn’t get that job; however, at the career fair, I was able to sit through a ton of presentations where I learned about so many different schools. I couldn’t believe all the places my passion for teaching could take me: Asia, the Middle East, South America – so many opportunities! At the conference, I was able to mix and mingle with lots of other candidates in the same boat as me, and I listened to tips and pointers, encouragements and warnings, and I walked out of the conference with three job offers to seriously consider. ISS has developed a process that really works.

And finally, any advice for other educators thinking about taking their career abroad?

 

  1. If you’re not already a teacher with experience in a certain subject, do some reflection and self-evaluation, and really uncover how your own life experiences make you a uniquely qualified candidate for a teaching position. Who knew that my 10 years of auditioning in Los Angeles, getting headshots, attending acting classes, and doing commercials and improv comedy was actually preparing me to teach drama to high school students in Ecuador!
  2. There are YouTubers out there who teach abroad and share their experiences, good and bad, and I suggest checking them out. When the idea for teaching abroad was just an inkling, these videos helped me form a clearer picture of what it means to teach internationally and how I should position myself in interviews. [Note: Thomas has also recently started his own YouTube channel to share travel adventures and experiences; find it here and subscribe for updates!
  3. If you haven’t spent much time in a foreign country, plan a trip for as long as you can, when you can. There’s nothing quite like navigating the grocery store in a foreign country to really inform whether you’ve got the nerve to live and work abroad.
  4. Reach out! Join online forums for teachers abroad, get active in your own educational community, and attend an ISS conference and meet people. You can only allow your ideas to rattle around in your head for so long, find people who can listen. Talking about things can get things started, I think. We’re all in this together!

From Thomas’ time getting his CELTA at International House, Cape Town

Many thanks to Thomas for sharing such a thoughtful look at his journey! Check out his channel to stay updated on the chapter ahead. We’re very excited for the learning and experiences to come in Ecuador.

If you’re also interested in launching your career in international education, consider joining the ISS-Schrole Advantage June 18 iFair, a virtual job fair bringing together recruiting international schools and educators. Learn more about the ISS-Schrole Advantage recruiting ecosystem here.

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