ETSU faculty member to teach in Costa Rica

Brandon Paykamian • Updated Oct 12, 2017 at 9:20 AM

Three years ago, Daniel Noel began his graduate studies at East Tennessee State University to get his master’s degree in education. Now, after working as a secretary in the education department, he is getting ready to go teach in Costa Rica at the end of the month to join eight other instructors teaching grades K-12.

Though Daniel Noel started out studying psychology in 2006, he eventually found that he had a passion for teaching and soon found himself studying education. Over the years, he said he started to become interested in teaching in other countries after noticing a need for instructors in places like Mareas Academy in Samara, Costa Rica, where he will begin teaching on Oct. 31. 

Despite Costa Rica’s high literacy rate of 98 percent, Noel said the country, which is largely underdeveloped in some regions, is in dire need of more teachers. 

“It’s a very poor school. They don’t have the access to the technology we have here,” he said. “The local population definitely needs as much help as they can get.

“The U.S. has a lot of great teachers, but other countries don’t have the same opportunities. I’d rather go somewhere where I’m needed most.”

As Noel gets set to begin his new adventure, he said he’s looking forward to immersing himself in a new culture and experiencing the country’s tropical climate. 

“When I spoke to my wife, we both decided we had certain criteria, and warm weather was one of them,” he said laughing. “Good food and good weather.”

Noel said he will probably be teaching English and social studies to students in grades 4-12. Though he has experience teaching children all throughout grade school, he said he prefers teaching middle schoolers. 

“A lot of people think it’s a really rough time, and it is for the kids, but they’re definitely developing their personalities at that time,” he said. “It’s a fun time for me, too, because they’re willing to learn new things.”

Noel said he is particularly enthusiastic about teaching literature, and he’s excited to be able to teach about Costa Rican literature. He’s also looking forward to talking with students about environmental issues, which he said are important in an ecologically well-preserved country like Costa Rica.

“That’s one of the things I want to do when I go down there – try and incorporate my lessons with the community as much as possible, because they have such an array of things to pull from,” he said. “They’re very environmentally aware there, so I’d like to bring in some stuff that touches on that.”

Though new experiences can be intimidating for some, Noel said he is ready for the challenge. 

“It never hurts to get out of your element,” Noel said. 

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