Paying it Forward - Across the Globe

 

Watson College alumna Sarah Bischoff launches her teaching career in Kuwait

Sarah Bischoff with students in classroom

In August 2019, Sarah Bischoff ’19 found herself on an airplane. Just a few weeks before, she celebrated her graduation from UNCW. Now, she was headed for Kuwait, where she signed on to work as a Grade 1 teacher at the American Creativity Academy.

“I was very nervous. I didn’t know what to expect,” Bischoff recalls, “but like anything else, you dive in. You trust your ability to teach – that’s what UNCW trained me to do.”

The daughter of two educators, Bischoff always knew she wanted to be a teacher. But with support from the Eric and Jean Rosenberg Distinguished Merit Scholarship, Bischoff discovered what she wanted to teach – and where. The scholarship helped Bischoff – who had never been outside of the United States – travel to Finland and Sweden, observing how other countries delivered education. She also conducted research in Ethiopia for an honors project – an experience that solidified her plans to teach abroad and, eventually, to Kuwait.

“Something I really like about teaching abroad is that you’re working with educators who come from all over,” Bischoff says, noting her colleagues hail from Canada, South Africa and Jamaica, among other nations. “We all do things differently, in the pedagogy and curriculum we grew up with, our styles and our mannerisms. You’re seeing and learning how others teach and adding to your toolkit.”

Bischoff proudly uses and shares the tools she picked up as a student in UNCW’s Watson College of Education. There are moments, she says, when in the middle of teaching she flashes back to a lesson from her reading foundations or math methods classes. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Bischoff has leaned heavily on what she learned in a children’s literature course led by Associate Professor Kathleen Schlichting ’86 ’92M.

“There’s nothing you can’t teach or introduce with a children’s book,” Bischoff says. “They can be used to introduce even the most difficult topics, like the pandemic, or why the world is shut down, or why keeping distance from your friends helps keep them safe.”

As Bischoff balances teaching remotely, working on her master’s degree, and surviving a global pandemic while living in a foreign country, she keeps in close touch with her support system at home – which includes the donors of her scholarship.

“The Rosenbergs are what made the scholarship very special. It wasn’t just the money, it was those two amazing people, believing in me,” Bischoff says. “I spoke with them last weekend. They are like family to me, and I can’t imagine my UNCW experience without them.”

The Rosenbergs’ impact on her life has also inspired some of the plans she has for her future.

“I think sometimes people look at a scholarship as just money, something to take off your debt load. But at UNCW it’s more than that, because you can really have a connection with the donors,” she says. “I’m hoping that once I complete my graduate degree and the world settles down, I’d love to start my own scholarship at UNCW – to pay it forward.”

Increasing scholarship support for students just like Bischoff is a key priority of Like No Other: The Campaign for UNCW. To learn more or make a gift, visit uncw.edu/give.

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