Though it was practically predestined, Caroline Fleischauer ’15 didn’t come to St. Lawrence expecting to discover her passion for teaching. Education was always an important value in her family, but Fleischauer was uncertain if it was her calling, too.
“My parents met while teaching abroad. My dad taught in Thailand, Japan, and Malaysia, and my mother taught in Japan and Thailand as well,” says Fleischauer. “Combining service and work through teaching was a big part of my upbringing, but I did have other, different interests I was curious to explore.”
An English major at St. Lawrence, Fleischauer says she also considered studying global studies and biology. Now, nearly a decade after graduating, she was granted a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship Award and is preparing to begin her year-long stint as an English teaching assistant in Thailand.
This is not the first time she’s been awarded a Fulbright—she declined the first opportunity several years ago to begin a graduate program at the University of Wyoming—nor will it be her first time teaching overseas. During her sophomore year, Fleischauer took a semester off to pursue a teaching opportunity in Kenya. It was her experience in Kenya that helped her realize she shared her parents’ passion for education.
“I used to substitute as an aide in special education classrooms when I was home on break, but this was my first experience being abroad on my own and my first time in my own classroom,” says Fleischauer. “I had to adapt quickly to a very different teaching environment, but it spurred me to start focusing on learning new, adaptive techniques of teaching in order to make a difference on the ground for students.”
Since her experience in Kenya, she has taught in Greece and also worked in classrooms in the North Country while pursuing her educational certificate at St. Lawrence.
“I spent a semester taking a full course load while also student-teaching at Hermon DeKalb Central School,” she says, “There, I was able to apply the work I did in my classes at St. Lawrence. For example, I designed lesson plans and curricula in my coursework and then transferred them into the elementary and high school classes I was working in.”
“It was a privilege to be a part of the small, close-knit community and get a better understanding of education in the region,” says Fleischauer who stayed in the North Country and taught for a year at Hermon DeKalb after graduating in 2015. . “At the time, there was a big focus on boosting literacy rates. I worked with students of all ages, but I enjoyed working with high school students the most because there was more flexibility—I got to choose the texts we were reading and really make the lessons my own within the New York state curriculum.”
Since then, she’s gone on to receive two degrees from the University of Wyoming—a Master of Arts in English literature and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. From her undergraduate studies to her teaching experiences to her post-graduate achievements, her love of English has always been a throughline.
“To teach and to study English with others requires intense interpersonal interaction,” says Fleishchauer. “I think teaching has made me a better scholar and vice versa. I really enjoy working with students who say they have little or no interest in reading and writing and seeing them latch on to something that speaks to them—whether that’s a text or a writing assignment. That’s what I love about English as a discipline. It’s empowering when you’re able to understand or decode something, or when you’re able to form your own thoughts, write them down, and share them.”
Fleischauer is excited to bring this compassionate approach to teaching to her next adventure in a new global classroom while in Thailand.
“Teaching English looks different in the different places I’ve worked, both in America and abroad. But across cultural contexts, I do think there’s a very human component to it,” she says. “That’s where my interests in teaching, writing, and literary analysis come together—it all comes back to empowering others’ ability to communicate and move through the world with confidence.”