JSC grad starts career overseas


Debbie Williams

Andrea Williams

Everyone hopes to get a job after graduating from college. Andrea Williams, member of Johnson State College’s 2016 graduating class, is one of the lucky ones.

“It is very exciting to be employed right after graduation. I am one of those people who likes to get the ball rolling. I did not want to take a year off, I wanted to begin my new adventure right away,” she said.

Williams is teaching biology and physical education at a high school in Burnham, England. She teaches ninth and tenth grade. Her school handles students that have behavior challenges.

“Seeing my degree in both health and education, I got thrown right into the science department,” she said. “Terrifying? Yes, but I accepted the challenge willingly. Each day is an adventure but the support of the staff is fantastic.”

A typical day as a teacher in England is different from student teaching in Vermont. Williams explained her daily routine: “I wake up and get to the train station at 7 a.m. I arrive at school around 7:45 and the day starts at 8:45. I teach four classes, three classes a day and, on my free block, I fill in physical education. The day ends at 3:05 when we do marking and meetings and then I head home.”

School days are not the only things different from Vermont. Williams gave a list: food, driving, meanings of words, transportation and the weather. “People drive and even walk on the opposite side of the street. Over here I make sure I look both ways before crossing,” she said. As far as transportation, Williams says everything is trains, buses or underground. The curriculum used in schools is also different, and Williams is still figuring it out.

Despite all the differences, Williams enjoys living in England and says that her favorite part about living there is the scenery. “It is just so pretty over here. I never thought I would see Big Ben, or the Queen’s castle. The architecture is just amazing,” she said.

Williams also enjoys her new job, and says her favorite part about it is learning as she teaches. “Teaching biology versus physical education, I am constantly learning and relearning as I teach the kids. All those JSC science classes came in handy.”

I was curious as to how Williams got her job, since it’s not every day a student from JSC goes to work in England. “I received my job through an education agency called Engage Education that places teachers in England schools,” she said. “This is a recruitment agency where principals or head masters of the schools ask this agency to fill the vacancies in their schools and districts.”

Even though she is in England, Williams has not forgotten her time at JSC. “My four years at JSC were fantastic,” she said. “The people I met and the friends I made along the way made the journey one worth remembering.”

Williams was an active member of the JSC community. She played for the JSC softball team and volleyball team for four years. “I was even awarded or mentioned in the North Atlantic Conference numerous times for my game play and stats,” she said.

Williams also had a job on campus. She worked in admissions for four years, “providing new and upcoming students with tours around campus to hopefully get them to fall in love with the campus as I did.” Originally from Nova Scotia, Williams said Johnson and admissions together were her home away from home. “Being 12 hours away [from home], you have to find an environment that is both caring and supportive — this is JSC.” Williams was also a peer mentor for three years, helping students in her residence halls.

Williams’ time at Johnson helped prepare her for her job. “The education department, science, my advisors and my peers all helped me through the process of becoming a teacher. The small class sizes were great for one-on-one teaching, a little difficult for team sports but it just made us think more and create even better lesson planning. The one thing Johnson does well is taking you out of your comfort zone. Johnson makes you work and take the risk, knowing that the reward is worth it. Focusing more on the process versus getting right to the finish, we focused on minor details in every class. Being in England took me out of my comfort zone once again, but thanks to Johnson I was ready for anything that was thrown my way,” she said.

After her four years at JSC, Williams graduated with a bachelor’s of science in health science with secondary licensure in physical education.

The future looks bright for Williams, but she said she is not sure where she will end up. “I am just taking it day by day and taking opportunities as they pop up,” she said. “I do hope to move back to Canada, but not sure where yet.”