Alumni Spotlight: Carrie Spoores '06
Carrie Spoores has always had the heart of an adventurer. From a young age, she knew she wanted to travel, and she even considered becoming an airline attendant at one time. While she has lived in Missouri most of her life, Carrie recently turned her teaching career into a way to travel and experience other cultures. For the past two years, Carrie has taught in the Middle East, coming back to her Springfield home every summer and winter holiday.
When Carrie decided to pursue education, she looked to Drury’s College of Continuing & Professional Studies. At the time, Carrie was a single parent with a daytime job. She needed evening classes that were close to her home in St. James, Missouri and her job as a classroom assistant in Rolla, Missouri. She took classes at Drury’s satellite campuses in Rolla and Ft. Leonard Wood. She graduated with a degree in general studies in 2006. Two years later, she earned her post-baccalaureate teacher’s certification.
From Missouri to the Middle East
Carrie began teaching in Bourbon, Missouri, where she taught sixth grade and high school FACS. Later, she taught fourth grade at Steelville Elementary and kindergarten through second grade Title I Reading and Math at Maries County R-1. She taught eight years before moving overseas.
“I wanted to have exposure to different methods of teaching. I wanted to be able to learn. I feel like some people get in a rut, and I didn’t want to see myself getting in that rut,” said Carrie. “I wanted to be able to explore the world rather than just having always lived and taught in the United States. You learn so much about people and different cultures by doing that.”
Carrie applied for a teaching position in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) through a service called Teach Away. Based in Canada, Teach Away is a free agency that places teachers in schools all over the world.
“Having that organization backing me took a lot of the pressure off of me,” she said. “All these schools in other countries find recruiting companies and put out a package for you. In the UAE, they paid for my housing. I only paid for my transportation, groceries and wireless internet.”
During the 2016-17 school year, Carrie taught at the Sheikh Zayed Private Academy for Girls in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. Although the academy taught American curriculum, she learned strategies from the faster-paced British curriculum through her co-workers from the United Kingdom. Now, she implements those methods into her teaching style.
Teaching in Bahrain
In 2017, Carrie moved to Bahrain with her husband, Ryan, who is a construction engineer with the United States Corps of Engineers at the U.S. Naval Base in Bahrain. That October, Carrie taught prep at the Multinational School of Bahrain. Prep includes students ages five and six. This August she will travel back to Bahrain to begin the 2018-19 school year with the same students.
“When I got to Bahrain, I discovered I had this high-functioning group of kids that I could teach at a faster pace. The parents and students asked that I move up with them. I’m taking this prep class to year one,” said Carrie.
Year one is the equivalent of first grade in the United States; however, Carrie’s advanced students were working at grade one and grade two levels last year, so the curriculum of this group’s year one will match the pace of their accelerated learning.
At her current school, Carrie has nine nationalities in her class. Through her students and their parents, she has learned a lot about the world and remained a passionate, intellectually curious educator.
“I’m teaching people of different nationalities, so I think it will always be exciting. It’s never the same, whereas here the population is generally U.S. citizens. I have kids from all over the world. It’s like a melting pot over there. The Middle East region is just developing. They rely on people from many different places in the world to help their region function; without those people, those countries can’t function,” said Carrie.
A Passion for Animal Welfare
After a day in the classroom, Carrie spends her free time taking care of stray dogs. Bahrain has approximately 18,000 stray dogs which do not have access to food or water. Carrie volunteered with Bahrain Strays to feed stray dogs each week until she began her own feeding route. To provide these animals with better futures, she partnered with Bluegrass Soldiers and Strays in Kentucky, which agreed to accept Bahraini strays. Whenever someone she knows is flying to the United States, Carrie sends three dogs with them. This process has saved the lives of 17 strays so far.
In an effort to impact the problem on a larger scale, Carrie emailed several animal welfare organizations until she received an inquiry from FARVets, an organization associated with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in New York. FARVets came to Bahrain for a mass spay and neuter clinic, spaying and neutering 98 dogs in four days.
To host this event, Carrie reached out to Shaikha Marwa bint Abdulrahman Al Khalifa, who is a member of the Al Khalifa royal family. Shaikha Marwa paid for many of the aforementioned strays to fly to the United States, and she helped Carrie gain government approval for FARVets to come to Bahrain. Shaikha Marwa is head of the Royal Bahraini Animal Welfare Society.
Don’t Be Afraid to Jump
Over the past few years, Carrie has been able to travel while pursuing a meaningful career. To any educators thinking of teaching abroad, Carrie advised taking the leap. “Change is good,” she said. Carrie believes that teachers will grow not only as educators but as individuals if they step out of their comfort zones and do what seems unthinkable.