Updated: Dec 16, 2020
(Article written by Jana Korder, published in Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Newsletter)
Megan Vander Lugt, a 2017 Elementary Education graduate of Saint Mary’s University in Winona has had quite the adventure since her graduation. After serving as a long-term substitute teacher at a small Catholic school in western Minnesota for a semester after her December graduation, her career took her to Melbourne, Australia in August of that same year. Other than cars driving on the “wrong” side of the road, Megan did not find life in Australia too different from living in the city in the United States, until she began to teach.
Living with two other American teachers, Megan explored teaching first serving as a Casual Relief Teacher (CRT), which is much like substitute teaching. In this position, she discovered class sizes of 25-32 students and less respect for teachers than she was used to in the United States.. She encountered very young students swearing in class, which is not frowned upon, and being told “no.” In some cases, several sections of one grade level were in one large room, each in a different corner, making it difficult to deal with the noise.
Megan also reported being in some excellent schools of many kinds, including schools for students with Autism, Islamic schools, Sun Schools (teaching is outside), and standard primary and secondary schools. She has seen kangaroos on golf courses, in backyards, and in parks. She even countered a kangaroo at school.
During her six weeks of summer break, Megan traveled and was visited by her parents. She explored both New Zealand and Australia during that time. Before school began again, she was asked to provide input on a math toolkit that was being considered by the Victorian Department of Education. She looked at different math strategies and curricula and was asked to design new math curricula and websites that would be approved by the Prime Minister before being made accessible to the public. The websites includes interactive lessons and assessment for international teachers who would be teaching in Victoria. Megan did research on standards, curriculum, and demographics as she utilized design thinking for her work.
Because of this work, Megan was offered a full-time job continuing to work on this project, but she chose to continue to teach. She is now looking for a new international job in a different part of the world. Megan has reported her surprise that education can be so different in difference parts of the world and looks forward to her next adventure.