PERSONAL

JAEWON YOO

Jaewon Yoo, Stephen’s wife, epitomizes life-long learning. She’s a multi linguist with top proficiency levels in her native Korean, English, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese. She plans to add Spanish and French in the near future. As a graduate of Pusan National University’s Food Science & Nutrition bachelor’s program, Jaewon role models healthy living by enjoying daily exercise, yoga, pilates, and ballet. With a teaching certification in Home Science and Korean language instruction, Jaewon has been honing her teaching skills and now teaches Korean language to business professionals and a Japanese Language and Culture class at the International Bilingual School at Hsinchu-Science-Park. She’s also currently an English-Korean translator and voice over actress. In her personal time she immerses herself in new cultures. Recently she practices ballet and the ukulele, in addition to learning Chinese calligraphy and painting.

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STEPHEN CRAVAK

Teaching is not only a profession, it’s a craft positively influencing every aspect of one’s life. When the time permits, he moonlights as a standup comedian, children’s writer, and coaster enthusiast and enjoys medium-length walks with his wife Jaewon. He also loves to check items off his bucket list. In 2014, he successfully read 100 new books, and watched 100 new films. In 2015, he aims to be published children’s book writer. In 2016, he will drink his first cup of coffee. Stephen’s ‘personal statement,’ and ‘bio’ are provided below.

PERSONAL STATEMENT (2012):

1. Briefly introduce yourself and describe why you are seeking a position in international education. What makes you a candidate who will be successful in an international setting?  

Since graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English Education, I’ve utilized my passion for teaching for eight years both domestically in America and abroad with the JET Program in Japan. An international school provides me with the ideal cultural setting and school environment where I can work with both native and non-native English speaking students.

At a young age curiosity beckoned, and I answered. It’s been a fulfilling adventure ever since. From designing roller coasters, to writing over 60 picture book manuscripts, to drinking snake’s blood in Taiwan, I’m constantly challenging myself to learn, try, and taste new things. Most of my learning takes place outside of school, and it wasn’t until I started teaching that I developed a fond appreciation for bridging personal experience with institutionalized education. Everyday in class, the young student in me is sitting in the back of the room. I make sure he/she is engrossed in the lesson.

My interest in international education came to fruition during my teaching internship as a senior colleague often shared stories of his experience teaching in Kenya and Greece. While in Japan, I was lucky enough to form friendships with teachers in international schools. I’m excited by the high standards and expectations, including the International Baccalaureate program. I look forward to becoming an active member of the school and surrounding community. A career in international education allows me to challenge a diverse student population and work towards an administrative position all while immersing myself within new cultures. My teaching and international experience along with my fervor for learning will not only make me successful but will bring new found success to the school.

2. How do students best learn?  What is your role in facilitating that learning?

Students learn best when they are comfortable, curious, and challenged. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, one’s physiological, safety, love/belonging, and esteem needs should be met before their self-actualization need is satisfied thus beginning their realization of their potential. Children are instinctively curious. An inquisitive “Why?” is uttered in response to everything they encounter. Educators harness this desire by not only feeding this hunger but by also modeling how children can “cook for themselves.” As children age, their curiosity is compromised by their developing self-identity. Consistency and individualization carries an even greater importance in middle and high schools in order to activate student desires to learn. My goal as a teacher is not to train students to pass a test. Instead, I’m instilling the information and skill sets necessary to pass the test while more importantly developing them as life-long learners.

In reality, the teacher is responsible for the student, but the latter is responsible for learning. In this role the instructor functions as a facilitator with three roles: motivational coach, resource provider, and crossing guard. In my classroom I motivate students by empowering them through diagnostics, consistent and positive feedback, as well as creative project based assessments.  In addition, I implement varied techniques to stimulate individual learning styles, utilize presentation software and internet technology. A healthy balance of lecture, pair work, cooperative learning, and class discussion maintains an active classroom environment. Providing information and resources is essential for students as they transform into self-sufficient experience seeking learners. Furthermore, I instill high expectations for all students but am forgiving in the event of error and difference in learning speeds and styles. Communication with students on my performance through individual conferences and evaluations allows me to provide them with guidance necessary for their success.

There’s a buffet of educational pedagogy available to educators. Though I only use what is best for my students as determined by knowing each student on a personal but professional level, reviewing test results, and adhering to administrative initiatives. Consequently my students have and will continue to achieve academic excellence because I creatively individualize the educational environment while remaining firm, fair, and consistent.

3. What can you contribute as a member of a professional learning community in an international setting?

My contributions to a professional learning community have been and will continue to be my involvement and leadership within the classroom, the school, and the community at large. My greatest personal assets are tolerance, imagination, and a sense of humor. In a global environment, cross-cultural differences are nothing but positive if you utilize a sense of humor and creatively cultivate a tolerant understanding. While working through college at a restaurant, my manager told me, “You’re a lousy cook, but as long as you’re here everyone’s happy.” Thankfully, in the classroom I know how to successfully create and follow a recipe, and I still work towards fostering a positive working environment. My dedication to the school doesn’t end when the lessons are planned, the tests are graded or even when the bell rings.

A valuable tool I bring to a school is my extensive experience in extra-curricular programs. While teaching in Florida, I saw a need for stimulation and self/school pride building. Consequently, I volunteered my services as an athletic coach and sponsored the Student Government Association. Under my guidance, SGA grew from seven students in one Leadership class to over 70 students in two Leadership classes and over 100 registered volunteers.  In addition, our SGA for the first time in the school’s history won the state’s gold medallion. Instead of waiting for opportunities to become available, I create them. I helped re-launch the school’s National Honor Society and yearbook programs while also taking over the school newspaper and founding an afterschool cinema club where students were exposed to standardized test-like questions on movies. While Activities Director, club participation more than doubled.

Arriving at my next position at an international school, I will immediately observe the school’s and students’ needs and work towards creating innovative solutions. Teaching is not a job: it’s a calling. More so, it’s a professional life filled with responsibility, pride in mentoring young people towards success, and happiness at being an active member of a learning community. I look forward to becoming a difference maker in international education.

BIOGRAPHY (2012):

One fall day, like a typical American, I was playing football. But this time was a little different; I was surrounded by Japanese high school students. It took a minute for me to think, “How did I get here?” It felt like just yesterday I was throwing the ball around with neighborhood friends. Did I ever think as a child, “One day I’m going to move to Japan and teach children there how to play this game?” At the age of 30, I still don’t know what I’ll be doing in 20 years. All I know is that wherever curiosity beckons, I’ll be there to learn something new and share something from my experiences.

Growing up in a suburb of snowy Buffalo, New York I took full advantage of a safe and sheltered existence. My head was in the clouds and my hands grabbed whatever I happened to be collecting at the time. I may be the only boy who managed to collect not just cards and stamps but also action figures, seashells, brochures, paint samples and erasers. In each one, I set out to have the biggest collection on the block. Today, I’m still collecting, but this time I’m smart enough to choose something less expensive: stories, specifically, stories of people from all over the world, but especially from students. As a children’s writer, I live for captivating tales of youth and to learn of innocence, ideals and aspirations.

Whatever I’ve been fortunate enough to experience, I’m always eager to share with others. As a student government advisor at a Hallandale High School in southern Florida I gave each of the student leaders a 50 states quiz. It was shocking to find that only three of the states, California, Texas, and Florida, were known to all of the students. It was at that point I declared, “We’re going to our nation’s capitol.” I had been to Washington DC as a Boy Scout and reveled the menagerie of museums and history. After months of fundraising and outlining a safe and school friendly trip, we were able to send over 40 under privileged teens for a week in Washington DC. To this day, students still email me about the trip. It was the experience they needed, and I’m happy to have been apart of it. I’m also lucky enough as a National Board certified English teacher to be able to seek out my own experiences.

The curiosity of exploring and teaching in Japan couldn’t wait any longer. It was disheartening to leave Hallandale High School, but I did so at a time knowing other teachers were ready and willing to carry on my extracurricular programs. Originally, I had planned to only stay in Japan for one year, after which I would make the switch to an international school, specifically in Europe. Though just like in Florida, I found it difficult to leave behind such gifted students. Thanks to the weddings of my younger sister and best friends an exit was made after three years and now I’m focused on fulfilling my original goal. Though, this time around I’m open to teaching anywhere permitting I can make a direct impact on students and be involved in the local community.

Even as I finish this biography, I’m excited to learn something new. Tomorrow morning I will start a class on portrait and caricature drawing. I’m a life long learner and as a teacher I model the joy of learning, seeking new experiences and the positive consequence of self-reflection and curiosity. I just hope my brain is big enough to hold it all in place.

Truth be told, whatever I’ve accomplished, from coaching a student to win first place in a speech contest to riding over 348 roller coasters in 10 countries, I cherish everyday of my life and the people who have made it possible. I’m grateful for the memories and experiences and use them as tools in the classroom while I continue to search the world over for new exciting challenges.

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