Susan Mishler with some of her second grade students in Abu Dhabi
Susan Mishler has lived in many countries throughout her life. And although she made various stops along the way, her journey eventually led to St. Petersburg College, where she received a bachelor’s degree in education.
Her father worked for a company that ran airports and airlines, which allowed her family to live in many places throughout her childhood, including Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It was her familiarity with the area and the people who reside there that helped her to return more than 40 years later as a teacher.
“My parents worked and lived overseas since I was a baby,” said Mishler, 57. She is originally from England but became a U.S. citizen when she married her American husband, Tom Mishler. “I had maintained contact with some dear friends in Abu Dhabi, and one day I just decided to research and see what was available and this opportunity came up.”
Before she got married, she worked a variety of jobs, such as a personal secretary for a Japanese oil company, at the Iranian Embassy, and as a hotel receptionist in London at the Cumberland Hotel in Marble Arch.
“I was working as a Parapro (paraprofessional) back in California while my own children were in school,” said Mishler, who has four grown children and two grandchildren residing in the San Diego area. “Several teachers that became very good friends were amazed I was not a teacher and said I should become one.”
For family reasons, she moved to Pinellas County where she began working in the school system as support staff. “Then the cutbacks hit, and that is when I decided to take a great leap of faith and decided to go back to school to become a teacher,” she said.
With St. Petersburg College being so close, she decided to enroll at the Tarpon Springs and Clearwater campuses. She liked the comfortable environment and did not feel intimidated by the size of the campuses.
“The availability of the education program was so helpful to me,” she said. “I was able to work part-time and attend classes and have no stress of large commutes.”
She received an Associate in Arts in 2005 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Exceptional Student Education K-12 with ESOL Endorsement in December 2007.
Since September 2010, she has been working for the Abu Dhabi Education Council, where she teaches math, science and English to second grade boys and girls, most of whom have very limited knowledge of English.
“The culture and language here is going through a major change in the creation of a New School Model that is proposed over the next 10 years,” said Mishler. Although the Arabic language is still dominant in the schools, English also is taught. Math and science also are taught in English.
“It has not been easy to tackle this assignment, but fortunately I had an idea of what it would be like when I took it,” she said. “Some people come over here and think it will be a breeze, and the excitement of traveling and living in an exotic place envelopes them. But it’s not all peaches and cream; it’s also very, very hard, intense work.”
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