TeachingTraveling.com: Howdy, Danny! Tell us a bit about your background.
Danny: I was born and raised in Vero Beach, Florida. I knew I wanted to be a teacher after having Mr. Stuzke in 9th grade Civics. One teacher can really make a difference in a person’s life!
Fueled by this vision, I graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 1999 with a degree in Elementary Education.
I taught kindergarten and first grade before moving into Special Education, which I have taught for the past 4 years.
My wife, Tracy, is a former teacher and now stay-at-home mom to our two young daughters Ava, 6, and Ella, 3. In the summer of 2006, my family moved to Hoschton, Georgia. In addition, I wrote the book “How To Survive (and perhaps thrive) On A Teacher’s Salary” in 2007.
TT: Ooo, how useful! Please explain an interesting travel experience you have had.
D: Tracy and I taught at The American International School of Krakow in Krakow, Poland during the 2000-2002 school years. During this time we visited 10 countries and learned a great deal about ourselves and others.
TT: Fantastic! How did you find this travel opportunity?
D: One of Tracy’s friends and co-workers mentioned overseas teaching to her. Tracy and I met and became engaged, we decided to look into teaching abroad. We used International Schools Services to help us with this.
TT: How did you find the money to fund this travel?
D: We used our savings to pay for our applications to ISS and travel to the job fair in Boston.
TT: Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly interesting or funny.
D: One of the most interesting trips we took was to Tunisia, Africa. We went there with one of the other teachers at our school, Joyce.
During this trip, we visited the bazaar in Tunis and then ate a great lobster dinner at a restaurant on The Mediterranean Sea. The owners asked us to sign a flag and list our hometown. All three of us did so. The waiter was very friendly towards Joyce and asked for her hotel information a number of times but she would not give it to him.
A few days after this dinner, we were all back at the hotel. Tracy and I were out on our deck overlooking a beach and saw Joyce talking with someone. We thought nothing of this.
That night at dinner we asked her and it was the waiter from the restaurant! He said he traveled over 3 hours and asked at over 15 hotels before finding Joyce.
He said that he was meant to be with Joyce because she wrote his name on the flag. She asked what he was talking about since she wrote down her hometown: Salem, Oregon. Well, it turned out his name was Salem and they were destined to be together. Nothing came of his visit but this great story.
TT: Ha! Wow! So, how have your travels impacted you as a teacher?
D: Traveling has opened up my eyes and helped me be more patient, which has led me into Special Education. I had some students overseas that came to me speaking no English. I had to have patience and realize that I could not make them learn overnight.
TT: Indeed! How have your travels impacted you as a person?
D: Although seeing many countries and great places was wonderful, the most important thing we learned from living overseas was that bigger is not always better. We (Americans) tend to think we need to accumulate more, which has led to the economic mess we are in as a country. Living in Poland showed us first-hand that a person can be happy with their life even if they do not make a large income. We saw many Poles that did not have a lot of materialistic things but were more content than many of our friends back home who seemed to have it all. This lesson has stayed with us long after we moved back home.
TT What advice do you have for other teachers who are dreaming of travel?
D: Go for it! Teaching overseas laid the foundation for the relationship and life Tracy and I have. It is sometimes hard to leave what we know, but change is usually difficult. You will grow so much as a person and learn lessons that will enhance your life in so many ways.
TT: Thanks so much, Danny. Here’s to teachers traveling and truly thriving on our salaries!