Stephen Castagneto: A New Journey into Education after Years of Travel

Photo-on-9-27-16-at-4-58-PM-_2.jpgBriefly introduce yourself and describe why you wanted to teach overseas... was there a compelling call or interesting story behind it?


I guess I have been a teacher all my life. The methods I have used though have gone from the visual arts to the classroom. Out of college I went into the media, first as a TV photographer / cameraman, then overseas to work for a French News Agency, back to the USA and the White House, then New York City and 24 years of news, sports, fashion, war, human interest and all for the purpose to tell or augment a story.I was a cameraman for KTVU-Channel 2 in San Francisco and had two Emmy nominations, worked for Gamma Presse-Photo out of Paris in Washington DC covering the White House for the French press and Newsweek Magazine. Had a Pulitzer nomination in Spot News in 1978 and front cover on Newsweek (Carter Inaug). Worked freelance and contract for over 20 years at The New York Times, Newsday, Boston Globe and The Associated Press covering national news and a couple of wars.

What made you sign up with a service like ISS, and how has your experience been? ​


​​ISS came highly recommended to me being known for its thorough vetting and matching up teachers with good schools. It was difficult finding schools that would even consider a senior teacher; a fact I was never aware of when I started my search. However, the staff at ISS, and most importantly Laura Light, had faith in my abilities and opened many doors to assist me to succeed.

What excites you most about your new role and/or school? How did you know when you found the right fit?


​​A good fit is not just about location, it is about an administration that supports the educational experience and students with a will to learn and work ethic. Culture means a lot.

What research did you do before accepting your job?


​​As the old saying goes, the "proof is in the pudding," and good schools produce successful graduates.  I went directly to the admissions lists of previous graduates and the caliber of universities and colleges that they are now attending.  As to the country, a culture of respect for education and parental involvement is paramount.

What advice would you give to educators looking to recruit overseas for the first time?


​​There is your perfect fit out there if you have an open mind and eyes to see opportunity and grasp it.  No matter what your politics, teachers are the best ambassadors for their country.  Spreading understanding and knowledge brings people closing to the real family of man.

Are there any hobbies you enjoy and/or passions you have outside of teaching?


I love using photography to tell stories. I am working on a side project while here in Myanmar that is proving to be a lot of fun

And finally, can you elaborate on your experience as someone over 60 searching for a job in international education? Are there any tips you would offer educators in a similar situation? Anything you wish you had known before you began to apply for positions?


Well, schools all over the world want talented, experienced teachers with multiple degrees and certifications BUT either don't have the budgets to pay you a living wage or have governments imposing age restrictions.  I was accepted at schools in Kuwait, UAE, Spain, Korea, Morocco, and China that had to pull their offers after they noticed my age. The only thing that kept me going was Laura L. at ISS who encouraged me to push on. Perseverance kept me going and being realistic about those areas of the world where I COULD work.  I got focused. Experience is an asset but not the years it takes to get it. You have to find those schools with senior administrators who understand that what you have to offer has value. Young teachers get offers because they are cheap to hire. And many of them look at schools as stepping-stones to their traveling around the world. But senior teachers are looking for a "good fit" in a school where their philosophies of teaching mesh well with that schools' and where they can commit for many years. These schools excel having staff that has taught a few thousand students and understand what these young people need to get a higher education and jobs.