News: The Detwiler Beck Family: Three Generations Living and Learning Overseas - May 13, 2016
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Friday, May 13, 2016Candidate Stories

The Detwiler Beck Family: Three Generations Living and Learning Overseas

Kari Detwiler Beck is a citizen of the world, having spent most of her life abroad. The daughter of international school educators, Kari attended schools in Greece and Israel from the age of nine. She graduated from (and met her future husband at) the Walworth Barbour American International School in Israel in 1997. In the following years, she had the opportunity to visit her parents at schools in Bangladesh, Hungary, and Brazil. These experiences initially led Kari to a career in international development. She studied abroad during college, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco (2001-2003), and worked abroad with the International Rescue Committee in Indonesia before realizing that her heart was in international education. After that decision, she taught for two years in New Orleans with Teach For America (2008-2010) before moving overseas to teach at the American School of Doha (ASD), where she has been for the past six years.

Thanks to her extensive experience living and working abroad, Kari began her job search with a great deal of confidence, both in the process and in herself. She says,

"As a single teacher, with two years of experience under my belt teaching in New Orleans public schools, I knew that I had a small degree of experience but a huge amount of drive and motivation, so I was inspired by the possibilities in front of me, while knowing that the options I would have might be outside my comfort zone. I felt comfortable knowing that I would make the right choice for me and take on whatever assignment I chose with enthusiasm. I had heard a lot about job fairs from my parents and knew that I wanted to be strategic and thoughtful in the job seeking process, while recognizing that I needed to be as open as possible to the options presented to me."

Kari registered with Search Associates, initially planning to attend the Cambridge Fair, hosted by Fair Organizer and Kari’s Senior Associate Jessica Magagna. Immediately, however, possibilities emerged, as she accessed a wealth of job postings around the world and daily updates on searchassociates.com. Her interest in one particular vacancy led to a Skype interview with the director of the American School of Doha, and subsequent interviews with the elementary principals led to a job offer and her acceptance shortly thereafter. Kari never felt the need to entertain other options or schools and felt quite confident that ASD and Qatar were the best fit, both professionally and personally. She exclaims,"Six years later, I haven’t looked back!"

Kari’s husband, Stephan Beck, also an international school graduate, has made a transition from engineering school to a career in education and will be teaching high school math next year at ASD. Kari and Stephan are both thrilled with the lifestyle that living abroad has provided for their family. Kari says,

"…in Qatar we have access to a caregiver for our two young children and live in a small community of faculty, so our children always have friends to play with, and we have colleagues to socialize with outside of school. We are able to travel extensively, save money for retirement, and work with students and teachers from all over the world—we couldn’t ask for more."

When Kari contrasts teaching abroad to her experience teaching in New Orleans public schools, it is clear that teaching overseas has opened up a new world full of professional growth. She speaks of the abundance of professional development opportunities that have taken her to Europe twice for International Baccalaureate (IB) Program workshops, to Columbia University for teacher training, as well as to regional Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools (NESA) conferences in the Gulf several times. She has also traveled to other schools in the region in various capacities, enjoying opportunities to get to know her students outside of the classroom during service trips to the Maldives, on athletic trips to India and the UAE, and at Model UN conferences in Beijing and Berlin. She appreciates how much she has been able to engage and collaborate with like-minded professionals. She adds,

"It’s safe to say that most international school teachers are pretty thrilled to be doing what they do day to day."

Though the initial jump into teaching abroad might seem daunting, Kari encourages candidates with the following words of advice:

"…have an open mind—you don’t know where you will end up. Literally, you may not even be able to locate the city/country on a map! But once you’re there, the opportunities just unfold one after another, and you will never look back."

Did You Know…?

Senior Associate John Ritter consults on matters of governance, planning, head and board transition, and staff development with schools all over the world.