Kelley and Phil Marchant have been fixtures in the North Clackamas School District for the past 20 years, but come the fall, the pair will be taking on a new challenge at The American School of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Right now, the school, like so many others around the world, is closed for the remainder of the school year, with all students doing online courses.
"We've been in contact and it doesn't change anything for us in the fall," Kelley Marchant said.
She teaches Theater, International Baccalaureate Theater and IB Psychology at Rex Putnam High School, and her husband teaches Environmental Science, Ecology and Biology at Milwaukie High School.
The Marchants have several friends who have begun teaching through the international school system and the couple decided to explore options overseas.
"We both enjoy traveling and there are some great opportunities to experience other cultures by doing this type of work," she said. "We can still do what we love to do, but in new circumstances and in different environments."
The couple interviewed for six different countries and at eight different schools before signing a contract for two years at the school in Africa.
The interviews were by Skype "and we had the privilege of meeting many great and interesting people," Marchant said.
The pair also attended a job fair in San Francisco in early February and met in person with representatives from a few schools.
"We had already been talking to The American School of Kinshasa before the fair, but meeting the director there face to face really solidified the decision for us," Marchant said.
International Baccalaureate school
The American School of Kinshasa is an IB school as is RPHS, so that was a plus for her, Marchant said.
"It's a very small school, K-12, with only 350 students. The school was started in the 1960s by a couple of missionaries and it serves the embassy, local missionary groups and several aid organizations," she said.
She and her husband also were impressed by the fact that students represent over 50 nationalities.
"In meeting with the director several times and talking with the principal, who is from South Africa, there was a great sense of community among the faculty and staff who live together right there on the 42-acre campus," Marchant said.
She will be the schoolwide theater teacher with a focus on an IB middle years program and also will manage the campus theater, which is a center for the arts locally.
"Phil will be teaching middle years general science and IB Biology. He's excited about exploring and teaching biology in a new biome," Marchant said, adding that they will have their own villa on the campus.
Currently, the couple is doing online classes for some IB certification, which the Kinshasa school is providing for them.
In the coming year, the Marchants are looking forward to learning about another culture and serving the local community.
The Kinshasa school has "a huge component of service," working with two local orphanages and an impoverished local school in town, Marchant noted.
Holiday breaks are two to four weeks long and there is an eight-week summer break.
"The school flies us home each summer. We're planning to have our family come to us during the Christmas season and then taking a trip to Cape Town, South Africa, where our niece and nephew are from," Marchant said.
But before the couple leaves for Africa, they must get their Milwaukie house ready to put on the market.
"It's actually nice to do a lot of purging and rethinking about what is important. It's been an added blessing to have both of our kids home from college and doing online coursework, so that they can help with projects and decision-making," Marchant said.
"We love Milwaukie, and the 20 years we've spent living here and teaching at both Milwaukie High School and Rex Putnam High School have been such a great blessing to us and both our kids, Jared and Alyssa," she said.
Marchant added, "We are excited for the new adventure, but will miss our true home, many friends and family here."
To learn more about The American School of Kinshasa, visit tasok.net.
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