The ‘Herstory: She Can’ series profiles women who pursue their passions. Each have stepped up with courage, a message, and a willingness to share her own odyssey.
This is a first person account from Judith Trier, a teacher, world traveler, and avid outdoorswoman. We honor teachers all around the world for the work and passion you pour into your students and our future.
For those interested in a series of Her Odyssey mini-lessons, join our Educator’s Resource Google Drive, a project which was inspired by Judith advocating for her students’ curiosity.
I never dreamed of being a teacher. After all, I was the student who had way too much energy and wanted to do anything but be in the classroom. I practiced Pediatric Physical Therapy and I had always felt connected to children and their well-being. I decided that I would go back to school and complete a degree in teaching. I accomplished this in 2008.
As I was transitioning from physical therapy to teaching, I went to a job fair where I saw a booth with a mammoth banner with the words “South Korea.” My ultimate life goal was to live in another country and be totally immersed in another culture, so I waltzed over and spoke to the person manning the booth. I became exhilarated to think about teaching in another country, and went home and researched Korea. It seemed like the perfect fit; I found that it was 70% mountains and Buddhist.
I lived in South Korea for four years. It was a perfect living environment for me. The students and their parents were completely dedicated to working towards the highest level of academic achievement. When I was not working, I was hiking with Koreans. It was truly magical. The Koreans welcomed me into their homes where they shared Korean food as we discussed our life experiences.
The I moved to the U.A.E. The U.A.E. was a different experience in that the Sheik of Abu Dhabi was committed to educating his citizens in English and Math and Science were taught only in English. I taught in an all boys’ school. It was a challenge to communicate at a level that the students understood. My primary focus was to instill a passion to learn. When I had down time, my favorite place to find peace was Oman which was about an hour away. I would go out into the rocky mountains, camp, and just be with nature.
While teaching overseas, I was fortunate to travel and experience other countries and cultures. At the same time, there were many new challenges for me; trying to learn a new language, understanding different customs, tasting different foods, and cultivating new friendships. I had the opportunity to use other curriculums, teaching strategies, and create solid teacher student relationships. The successes and challenges of teaching have been similar in each country. I am like most teachers. You instruct, explain, draw illustrations, act out a charades; waiting for those Ah-Ha moments when a student grasps a new concept.
Last year, I moved back to the United States. I have been teaching at a private school in Vermont for the past year. It has been unique in that it follows a Progressive Education model. So, the whole school community is involved in the welfare of the students and maintaining the school.
My teaching opportunities have given me perspective on how different environments influence learning. Every student has their personal story to tell. I feel excited by the challenge to help each student find their voice and passion to learn.