Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Member Spotlight: Maria Falgoust

Longtime HVLA member, Maria Falgoust, has spent the past two years working overseas. She is now back in New York serving as the Manager of Libraries and Services for the Ascend Learning charters schools in Brooklyn. Maria took some time this week to share about her experience. 

How did you find out about your position in Rome? What was the process of getting it like?

I registered with the education job agency, Carney Sandoe and Associates, based in Boston. First I submitted an application, which involves creating a profile, answering questions, writing an essay, providing a resume and asking my references to mail letters of recommendation. Next I spoke on the phone with my placement counselor. Carney Sandoe matches refers schools to educators. My experience was very unusual, because I got hired by the first school I interviewed with, The American Overseas School of Rome (AOSR). First I had a phone interview with the Elementary principal, followed by a Skype interview with the headmaster.

Had you ever been to Rome before? How did you choose it?

Yes, I spent my last quarter of college living in Rome studying Fine Arts with the University of Washington. My first time living in Rome was magical and eye-opening but I had not been back since. While most of my colleagues at AOSR had attended International School Services fairs and often had particular continents or countries in mind, I just checked off a box for Europe as well as a variety of US cities, including NYC, where I was living at the time.

Were there major differences between being a librarian in New York vs Rome?

In NYC, I was privileged enough to be able to order books throughout the school year. In Rome, the majority of the books I could order had to be placed in February through ISS and would arrive in the summer. Italian public schools do not have librarians or libraries. I really missed all of my librarian friends and colleagues. 

What were some of the most popular books your students were reading?

My students loved the Mercy Watson series, Mo Willems' books, The Goddess Girls series, The Roman Mysteries series, the LEGO Ideas Book, Little Pea, The Dot, and Obert Skye's The Creature From My Closet series.

Would you recommend teaching overseas to others? Any tips?

Yes! There are countless reasons why it is a good move. It's challenging, exciting, and invigorating. When living overseas, it forces you to consider what it means to be American and realize what an enormous impact your culture has on you. Gaining perspective and empathy is always good! Since many international schools only have one or two librarians, there are very few openings so be open minded about your location.

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