Teaching Around the World: Jessica Hanthorn’s Story

Do you think you could teach in different countries?


Aidyn Pacl

Hanthorn at her desk.

by Aidyn Pacl, Reporter

Teaching may possibly be one of the hardest jobs that a person can choose to do. It requires extremely hard work and perseverance that not just anyone can easily pull off.

Not only does Jessica Hanthorn do this, but she has continued to be an excellent teacher in several different places around the world.

When walking into room 1202 you’ll notice many things within the room that tell you about Hanthorn and her passion.

Books can be found throughout her classroom giving students access to practically any genre they’d like at a moment’s notice. Along with these, many posters encouraging students to read, something Hanthorn feels quite passionately about, hang along the walls.

“I teach English nine and I teach the AVID elective,” Hanthorn said. “Last year I taught sophomore English so it’s kind of a mix of classes, but exclusively language arts classes.”

Hanthorn currently teaches the classes because of her passion for reading and the English language as seen in one of her several hobbies outside of school.

“I like reading books, obviously,” Hanthorn continues. “I read 44 books last year and I’m pretty proud. I would say that it’s not that I’m a fast reader but a consistent reader.”

A filled bookshelf in Hanthorn’s classroom alongside posters encouraging her students to read. (Aidyn Pacl)

Of course being an English teacher wasn’t Hanthorn’s original aspiration when she first started her career. 

“Right after I graduated college I actually started out as a reporter, my degree being in journalism. I started as a journalist and actually got a job as an education reporter, so I was writing about education and reading about high school education.”

While being an education reporter, Hanthorn made a consideration regarding her career.

“I got a chance to go into classrooms and see teachers work and I thought, ‘They’re job looks pretty fun!’. I felt like they were having a lot more fun than what I was having as a reporter. That’s when I decided to teach journalism at the college level. I taught as an adjunct professor at a couple different universities.”

Even when Hanthorn found the career path she really wanted to take, there were still some constraints that needed to be amended. The main constraint, which can be seen in her classroom in the form of multiple license plates tacked onto her whiteboard, was the fact that her husband was in the Navy.

Teaching in a different country, especially one with a language and culture barrier would be a new challenge for Hanthorn.

“We were stationed in Bahrain, and the school I taught at was called Modern Knowledge School. The students spoke English fluently but they also spoke a second language, Arabic, fluently. A lot of times this would come into play when they would have little side conversations when they were able to communicate and say things to each other and I didn’t know what they were saying.”

When teaching in Bahrain Hanthorn was able to experience very interesting events that the average person living in the US probably never would.

License plates tacked onto Hanthorn’s white board, each one being from a place she has taught. (Aidyn Pacl)

“At one point when I was teaching, there were these two boys speaking Arabic,” Hanthorn continued. “I had no idea what they were saying to each other until later. One of the boys got extremely mad and got into a big fistfight on the ground in the middle of class, and I didn’t even know what was happening. Some students didn’t translate for me until afterwards. He called the other boy’s mom a donkey which apparently is the worst thing you can call someone in Arabic.”

As crazy and informative of an experience teaching in a different country was for Hanthorn, it made teaching at universities exclusively, exceptionally hard.

“We were up and down the East Coast as well. I was thinking ‘I really love teaching college but I want to teach somewhere that’s more secure.’. As a Navy Spouse you know that there’s always a high school wherever you are so I decided to get my Masters in teaching. I also liked teaching the high school age group a little better than college because you see them for the whole year and there’s potential that you could see them for multiple, but in college you only see them for the trimester and it’s very quick. I also wanted to kind of build more relationships with my students.”

Throughout her entire time teaching and all of the things she has experienced within it, Hanthorn has learned a lot. As a teacher and a professor her character has grown.

“Being a teacher has definitely given me more empathy,” Hanthorn stated. “Thinking about what other people are going through is a big part of my thought process now. When I was a journalist that wasn’t the primary thing I was thinking about. Being a teacher also taught me patience because I’ve had to work with many different people.”

Hanthorn as a teacher has had many experiences that the average teacher wouldn’t. These experiences along with her passion for teaching have shaped who she is as a person and the way she teaches her current students making her one of the greatest teachers you could be lucky enough to have.

“Don’t worry if you don’t start out as a teacher right away. If you do something else that’s okay, and that could even add to it.”