STIS has been a journey unlike any other.  I started working at STIS in 2014. I never expected to fall in love with the place in the way I have.  I thought I would stay for a year. But one year turned into two and now I am looking to start my third.  I couldn’t imagine working in any other school or with any other company.

Everything about STIS is different from the other schools I have heard about in Surat; even the layout is unique.  STIS is an open space with no doors to the outside.  Shoes come off before you even step inside and socks or bare feet are all that you see running down the halls(walking if I had my way).  Kids are always smiling and eager to speak with you.  Because the students have English all day they can more than hold their own during a conversation.  They love to joke around and give hugs.

When it comes to the teaching at STIS everything is dependent on the teacher.  This can either be a huge challenge or a huge relief.  We have targets that need to be met but we are given complete freedom on how to get there.  Lesson plans are only checked to be sure that they are being completed.  Lessons are not scrutinized; you don’t have to stay on the same level as another teacher.  The class is yours; only k2 and younger classes even have a Thai teacher in for help.  Although this may sound incredible, this freedom comes with a lot of responsibility (thanks, Uncle Ben).  As the teacher you have to be on top of your class.  It is only on you if the students do not learn the material.  

We do not get nearly as many interruptions as other Thai schools.  If we have school, you have your class, and you will be teaching.  There is no such thing as a school day where you are not teaching. Our students see us all day (minus breaks), every day, and the relationship you are able to develop with them is unlike any other teacher-student relationship I’ve seen in Thailand.  My students are my kids.  I love to see them each morning and watch as their minds get blown away day after day with the things we learn.

It’s not just the freedom that I am given to go about my day to day unhinged by some higher power, STIS is a community I am happy to be part of.  Whether you need help with something at home, or in your personal life, or just want to find some new and different food, the staff is always willing to help you.  I cannot tell you the amount of times I have locked my keys in my room and had to ask one of the Thai teachers to call the only locksmith in town I know to help me out.  They understand that you are in a new country and need help doing even simple tasks, as you do not speak the language.  Moving abroad may seem daunting in the fact that you will be unable to do unassuming tasks on your own at first, but at STIS someone is always willing to lend a hand.

I can say so many wonderful things about STIS.  Never before have I woken up on a Monday morning eager to go to work to see my kids.  Throughout my life I was told if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life.  I know I love teaching, but STIS is amazing in letting me teach without any borders.  

Though STIS is a great place, it is not the typical place to teach in Thailand. Although we look forward to our breaks and use our weekends to explore beaches, hike waterfalls, and kayak around national parks we all have one major thing in common: we came to Thailand to teach.  Being able to go on these excursions is just a plus.  A massive plus, but in the end we are here to teach.  STIS creates a creative environment that makes both teachers and students want to share knowledge.

Beyond STIS there is Surat Thani. Surat has quickly become my home. As much as I miss the snow and leaves changing back home there is something about Surat that makes me want to stay longer.  During the summer heat I am wishing for the rainy season and during rainy season I am wishing for the summer heat.  But in both, I love where I live.  There are so many expats in Surat it is hard not to find a group where you fit in.  Whether it is poker, writing, ultimate Frisbee, working out, or just traveling to the surrounding islands and beyond, there is something here for everyone.

When I first came to Surat from China I thought I would leave by the end of the year.  I did not count on falling in love with my students, my school, and my city. Surat is an amazing place to live and STIS is the icing on the top. There is nothing that could make me change schools.  I have everything I need and more at STIS. What more could I ask for?


A twenty-minute drive outside of downtown, at the end of the road by a lake you will find STIS. In the Khuntale area we can’t go anywhere without being associated with STIS. In the mornings, at lunch, and after school we are the token foreign teachers. Everyone is willing to help whether it is the noodle lady down the street or the mechanic next door.

Working at STIS is an experience unlike any other. We are not the typical “Come to Thailand and teach experience”. We have our own students in our own classrooms all day, every day. Our students only get an hour of Thai a day, the rest of the time they are with us. For some classes, that is the only interaction with a Thai teacher they have. STIS is more pressure and work than just coming in to teach ESL every day or so. But it is work that we are passionate about and pressure we mostly exert on ourselves. There is nothing more refreshing than walking into your class and knowing everything about all of your students from their reading level to favorite cartoon.

Family has always been important to me. Deciding to come to Thailand was a hard decision knowing how far I would be from my family. Over the past year and a half STIS has become my family. There is never a day where I feel like I have to hide emotions or issues because these people are my coworkers. Everyone is always willing to lend a hand. Over the past two years, my STIS family has been instrumental in my amazing experiences in Thailand!

In the lower grades we work with curriculum we’ve created ourselves. K3 and up follows the California curriculum. How we run our classes and accomplish the material needed is up to the teacher. Peter is always available to answer questions and is a great sounding board but he leaves the everyday running of a class to the teacher.

We are a small school with only 6 foreign teachers but what we lack in numbers we make up for with personality. Having small classes we readily combine for projects and reading. I have a class of 5 students but I have gotten to know each of the other classes as well and consider myself a teacher of 30 odd students. All of the students are eager to learn and use the language we give them everyday. Just walking through the gate you are met with smiles and questions of “How are you?” and “Teacher, this one time…”.

At STIS we are not only allowed but also encouraged to find our own way of teaching. We have been able to put together school wide projects with Halloween, Dr. Seuss Day, Christmas, and are even implementing a spirit week this year. We’ve accomplished so much this year and it will only get better.  I can’t imagine being in another school, which is why I’ve signed on for another year!