12 Aug Working at Woodstock – from gum trees to lyre trees
After being married just seven months Owen and Ashlea Fidler waved goodbye to friends and family in Australia to come to Woodstock. Owen’s interest in teaching in an international school was ignited by his own student experience.
His parents both work in an international school in Beijing and he spent a term there teaching Grade 6 this year. As a student Owen had spent three years studying in Beijing from 2000-2003, and these experiences as both a student and substitute teacher made him realise he wanted to teach overseas.
“We checked all the websites and saw Woodstock’s website. We didn’t want to teach in a big city. We were looking for a smaller school, one with a vision. The mountains won me over to start with, but I wanted a school which was not constant, one that changed. It had to measure my vision for experiential learning, it had to be visionary.”
Ashlea commented that they showed the website to everyone explaining the location and why they wanted to go. Ashlea’s father still checks the website to read the news and was delighted to see photos of the new staff arriving in our previous story.
Owen is a keen photographer and below are a selection of some of his first photos of Mussoorie and Woodstock.
“I was really, really excited, wrapped in receiving this position, totally over the moon,” Owen commented. While Ashlea’s family had the usual concerns of going to a developing country such as India and its distance from home, she also had the added concern of how to manage the last few weeks of her student teaching.
Ashlea will be teaching Grade 7 math, environmental science, health and science classes. Owen is teaching Grade 9 history and co-ordinating the hugely successful MUN (Model United Nations) conference.
Asked what they miss and what discoveries they have made they talk excitedly over one another in sharing their much longer list of “likes and discoveries” than their dislikes. Both Ashlea and Owen feel extremely welcome, something they say is totally unique to Woodstock.
“From the minute we stepped off the plane, the community both in and out of the school have been so warm and happy. The Indian nationals and the rest of the staff share everything together from tea in the staff room to dinner invitations to one another’s homes, it has been amazing.”
Both gluten intolerant, with Ashlea also dairy intolerant, the young couple have missed gluten-free products, but are adapting easily and the school has helped them with gluten and dairy-free lunches.
With positive, well-qualified and adventurous new young staff such as Owen and Ashlea it’s no wonder the students in high school are enjoying the new teachers who have joined Woodstock this year.
The couple have a blog which you can read here.