#66 Erin Kent – Literacy expert finds professional fulfillment & growth opportunities at Concordia Shanghai
Erin is a wife, mother, teacher and learner. She works as an Instructional Coach at Concordia International School Shanghai, supporting elementary teachers in implementing best-practice reading and writing strategies in classrooms. She and her husband, Nicholas, have been in China for nine years and have a young daughter.
This is a school that brings in the best minds and they make sure the teachers have access to these people who are going to shake up their practice and make it better.
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Erin’s teaching career started in Mississippi. She loved working in a culture that was different from her own and ‘got the bug’ for living and working outside of her comfort zone. After that, she moved to Chile where she worked for the University of Notre Dame, starting programs in local schools. When that stint abroad was complete, Erin attempted to integrate back into life in the US but to no avail. She knew she belonged overseas. Very shortly after marrying her husband, Nick, they moved to China and nine years later, they’re still loving the opportunities and challenges of being international educators.
Erin and Nick were so impressed by the passion and vision they heard from Concordia’s former Head of School, Dr. Rittmann. In a face-to-face interview in Seattle, they talked about holistic education, application of skills, and a vision for the future of the school. They didn’t expect to end up at Concordia before that conversation, but after, they were hooked and signed on right away. Before Concordia Erin changed schools just about every 3 years or so. She wholeheartedly believes that, “when you’ve plateaued it’s time to go.” After nine years at Concordia, she and Nick are still feeling challenged and empowered to excel at their crafts as educators.
A typical day
Erin lives in a bit of an expat ‘bubble’ as she explained it. From her bathroom window, she can see Starbucks and a block the other way, there’s another! Each day, she and Nick walk to school with Alice and Erin spends her days working in classrooms with teachers or with teaching teams outside of the classroom. Ayi Irene picks Alice up from school and spends some quality time at home together while Erin and Nick finish out the day at school. After meetings are complete, they walk home together to a clean house and dinner simmering on the stove. (Definitely one of the perks of living in China!) Once they’re all home, it’s Alice time. Electronics are put away, computers stay closed and Alice is their main priority until she heads to bed. After that, they may head out for a drink while Irene stays with Alice, or they might just hang out at home together and head to bed.
Strong ties to Columbia
Concordia has a partnership with Columbia University’s Teachers College and Erin works closely with their top team to bring cutting-edge educational research to bear in Concordia’s classrooms. One of Erin’s greatest victories while living and working abroad was the opportunity to speak at Columbia on one of her passions – literacy. She attributes this success to the tremendous trust and resources poured into her by Concordia.
What sort of teacher would be a good fit
Working at Concordia challenges educators to bring their very best each and every day. The teachers who will have the most success are intense, passionate, hard-working, collaborative, and smart. Additionally, as a school founded on Christian values, Concordia intentionally hires Christian teachers. Erin says that the staff pray together – for each other, the school, students and the world – and attributes Concordia’s tight community with this common foundation in faith.
Erin advises to ignore the negative China hype from home. China is really an incredible place to live and work and it’s something that you need to come and see for yourself.
- Concordia International School Shanghai
- Columbia University Teachers College
- Reading Writing Workshop