From Queensland to Colorado: life as an exchange teacher
David Price's teacher exchange experience has taken his family from sunny North Queensland to the mountain peaks of Colorado, USA.
From lying around our pool in North Queensland, we went to the mountains of Colorado. To be exact, the mountains west of Denver. And what an experience it was! We live slightly higher than the summit of Mt. Kosciusko (2200 m) and my adopted workplace is one of the highest (and smallest) high schools in North America.
For all of us, skiing has become an obsession. It takes a little while to get the hang of it but once gravity become a friend and you graduate from the ‘bunny slope’ skiing become an adrenaline adventure every time you go. There is nothing quite like pushing through fresh powder or shooting down neatly groomed snow in pursuit of the kids. If you looked into our garage you’d see ten sets of skis, two kayaks and miscellaneous hiking gear.
American schools, on the surface at least, look the same as those in the movies. However, there is a real enthusiasm among the students that is not so obvious. Public speaking and debating are very much part of the culture and performed very well. Fundraising is really energetic and enjoyable. Competitive sport, also, is fundamental to high school culture. We have found the staff hospitable and helpful in the helter-skelter pace of high school life.
Our kids happily attend my mountain school. Two of them loved it immediately. The middle girl found herself invited for a sleepover within two days of attending the school. The eldest took a while to find his feet but is quite content being a grader 9er now in the US. In fact, because of the school’s size and his, the football team has invited him to play with them. For one reason or other they work harder here and now are doing better than before coming to the US.
Colorado’s booming economy has meant that the eldest child works two jobs to save money for university next year. It seems every second business has “help wanted” posted on its door. Opportunities abound.
Our Colorado exchange has offered us a great adventure, especially living outside of the big city. Squirrels, blue jays, chipmunks and other critters visit us each day. This morning a white tail (Bambi) deer and her two spotted fauns casually sauntered though the back yard. Occasionally, the elk even visit us at home and hang around for 10 minutes and then move on.
Our exchange has bonded us and put before us new adventures every week. The music and bluegrass scene is impressive. The bushwalks are pleasant and the mountains are magnificent. It is an unforgettable experience that I believe any family would relish.
Our union can assist eligible members in obtaining a teacher exchange opportunity. Click here to read more.