It was 2001, in Budapest, Hungary. In a classroom a third of the size you’re in now sat students from all over the world eager to learn from one American teacher. Social studies teacher Todd DeJong was that teacher.
After five years teaching at Sandy High School, he took a year leave to teach at an international Christian school in Hungary.
“I was flipping around on old school internet back in the day, it was in my fifth year here [at SHS] I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life,” DeJong said. Full of youth and eager for adventure, DeJong wanted to experience something new.
“I came across a need for teachers in these Christian International schools and I had no idea that was in demand,” DeJong said. From there, the rest is history. DeJong spent a year teaching some middle schoolers and all grades of high school in Budapest. With elementary, middle, and high schoolers all on the same three floor school, it was a little different overseas.
“I brought a lot of experiences and stories and examples from living overseas. We put on our U.S.A. glasses every time we wake up so it’s interesting to see from different perspectives. It’s not like the U.S. everywhere,” DeJong said. Other than Hungary, he has traveled and experienced being in lots of other countries that has helped shape his perspective on life and teaching today.
“Outside of North America, I have been to Budapest, Ireland, Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Croatia, Romania, and Turkey,” DeJong said.
As an economics teacher, money and currency is a main topic of discussion. Over the years, DeJong has collected a large range of currency, from the Turkish lira to the Zimbabwe dollar.
“All that currency I pass out, almost all of it came from my travels. The rest of it came from students who gave me it after I showed them that currency,” DeJong said.
Students in his class are always intrigued when he tells stories from his past, especially when he talks about past travels.
“It’s very interesting hearing about his international travels, it brings atmosphere to the class,” senior Patrick Lemmer said. He is currently taking DeJong’s Economics class.
Traveling enriches teacher’s perspectives in the classroom, as well as entertains students. DeJong offers a new outlook on topics we talk about today because of his experience in other countries. DeJong would love to go to Himalayas for his next international trip.