TEACHING High School in Seattle, Washington
By Angela Watson
The Cordell Hull Foundation has enabled me to broaden my horizons by giving me the opportunity to travel and teach in the United States, to share cultures, teaching experiences, curricula, make new friendships and have the reward of a student saying “thank you for being my teacher.” I would definitely recommend the Cordell Hull Foundation to teachers around the world and thank Marianne Mason for her outstanding work, professionalism and devotion.
I arrived in August 2000 thinking that I would only be teaching in the U.S. for a year. I had previously taught American History for fifteen years in Melbourne, Australia and had always wanted the opportunity to teach in America! So this was it! I am now in my second year of teaching high school in Seattle and absolutely love it!
Teaching in the U.S. for the past two years has been rewarding and challenging. I have made many new friends and have thoroughly enjoyed the involvement and friendliness of students, teachers and parents. The advice that I would give to other exchange teachers is be a part of the Cordell Hull experience! Be prepared, ask questions, get involved in as much of the extra curricula activity of the school as your schedule allows, take time to reflect, keep a diary or make a scrap book of your experiences!
Teaching World History has made it pertinent to incorporate Cordell Hull into my curriculum. I talk to the freshmen about World War Two and Cordell Hull’s involvement in Pearl Harbor, as he was Secretary of State during that period. Students also do a research paper about his life and great achievements as a statesman of the United States.
Teaching in America is very different from teaching in Australia. For instance, there are no school uniforms. The day begins earlier (8 am compared to 9am) and ends earlier here (2.30pm compared to 3.15pm). I teach at a Catholic school. Students must study religion every day. They have the opportunity to go to chapel every day. This is a very important part of their education and it also enriches their lives by teaching them values and an understanding of the underprivileged world around them.
Pep Assemblies, Cheer Leaders, Drill Team, Grub Tolo, Girls Club (of which I am the advisor), Pyjama Jam, Halloween, Homecoming ‑ I would have real fun translating these events back home! The school has a tremendous focus on sport and students really enjoy the challenge of competition and seem to thrive on the discipline required to be successful.
When I first began teaching in the United States, the students thought that everyone in Australia had a Koala bear sitting in a gum tree in their backyards and that kangaroos hop across the streets, that Australia was mainly “the outback”, always sunny and everyone practically lived at the beach. I wasted no time in telling them that Melbourne is a thriving metropolis of over 3 million people, green, and I lived an hour from the beach. The only places I have seen Koalas and kangaroos is at the zoo! ! ! !