Wednesday, September 08, 2010

It's a Different World Over Here

Yesterday was New Teacher Orientation at my new school in Beirut. Wow! is pretty much all I have to say. We're not in NYC public schools anymore, Toto!

We started the morning with an introduction from the HR director. She said that this morning she was reminded of herself being a new hire four years ago and all the excitement she felt to be working at this school. Then a few months later the excitement and newness started to fade and she wondered where it went. Then she asked herself where else she would want to work other than here and her answer was nowhere else. The room of teachers and administration new and old cheered. (Then she cracked a joke about asking the same thing about her husband: Who else would I want to be married to? And the answer was always the same: (dramatic pause) George Clooney.

Next the President got up and spoke about all the schools he had worked at in the world and how this was the best school in the world. OK, he might be a bit biased, but still, can you imagine working at a school that could even proclaim to be the best in the world? Then, person after person got up and while introducing themselves gushed about how much they love the school and couldn't imagine being anywhere else. It was pretty amazing.

We had tours of the school campus which is gorgeous. My friend's fifth grade classroom has a wall of windows where you see nothing but the sparkling blue sea! (I'm a tad jealous I must say!) After the tour we took a bus ride up to the satellite campus in the mountains which has an even more gorgeous view of Beirut and the sea. After a presentation from the HR department we had a catered lunch of Lebanese food before heading back down to Beirut.

Beautiful campus aside I was just struck by the excitement of all of the staff that we met. The president said when he was speaking, "I have complete confidence and faith in each and every one of you. You've all been brought here to work at the best school because you are the best." And you really felt that he meant it. What a breath of fresh air coming from NYC where as a teacher you feel as if you aren't trusted to do anything without being micro-managed.

Today the foreign-hire teachers (there are eight of us) had a meeting with the President where he talked about life in Lebanon: politics, religion, emergencies, personal safety, and basically anything we needed in getting adjusted to life in a new country. He made us feel really secure in knowing if anything dramatic were to happen in the country we would be taken care of. He was also on top of any sort of requests that we had. No wireless in your apartments? We're on it. Furniture in some of the apartments is old and dingy? We will replace it by the end of next week. The shipping company didn't do a professional job? Thanks for alerting us, we'll get a new one. Honestly I can't imagine anyone being more responsive. After our meeting we were taken out to lunch by the president and his wife and we all just chatted and got to know each other better.

Needless to say I am loving my school so far and feeling a little more than spoiled. Being an international school teacher definitely has its perks!

1 comment:

J said...

WOW. that sounds amazing--all of it! hurrah for a great school and supportive admin!