TeachingTraveling.com: Let us welcome Kelly Dunning, a Canadian teacher who has traveled around the world and is now living in England with the love she met abroad! Kelly, please tell us about your background.
Kelly: I was born in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, where I grew up in the countryside with cows and chickens for neighbours and a huge expanse of surrounding wilderness to explore. When I was 17 my Mom, Dad, brother and I packed up and moved away from the cold winters to sunny Vancouver Island, where I studied Visual Art at the University of Victoria. I have always had a passion for education, so it was only natural that I began working as a teacher and sharing my love for the fine arts with young children.
TT: What sort of teaching have you done?
K: I have taught in several different capacities, many of them quite unconventional but very rewarding. I worked for two years as a Preschool Art and Drama instructor, designing a specialized creative enrichment program to a group of 3-5 year olds. This was lots of fun, and I enjoyed encouraging their imaginations and exposing them to different modes of expression such as finger-painting, collage, sculpture, puppet theatre and more!
The preschool job began as part-time during my studies, and after I graduated it evolved into developing several after-school and summer programs for different recreation centres, such as a combination Art and Theatre workshop where the 8-12 year old students wrote and directed their own plays whilst also designed costumes and scenery and putting together an art exhibition.
One of my favourite programs was an Eco-Art Camp, where I took my students on hiking expeditions in nearby forests, beaches and wetlands in order to sketch and observe the surroundings. I wanted them to be learning about nature and art at the same time, while getting away from the Xbox!
I also used my passion and experience in drama as a coach for two youth theatre troupes, aged 10-14 and 14-19. We performed for many different audiences, including charity shows, children’s festivals, and private parties.
TT: Nice! Tell us about one of your favorite teaching jobs.
K: One of the most rewarding experiences I have had was as a volunteer for the Gallery in the Schools Program at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. I was involved in the program for 4 years and I would still be there if I wasn’t living halfway around the world right now! As a facilitator for this program, I took actual pieces of art from the galleries collection and brought them to elementary schools, where I would lead the children in a discussion and then a related art project. The children responded brilliantly to it, and it has always been one of my favourite teaching experiences.
TT: Sounds like an excellent project. So, what got you into traveling?
K: I have always had traveling in my imagination, especially after my mom told me stories when she was young about backpacking across South America in her early 20s. I have always been curious about new places and different cultures.