Well, friends, it has been a bumpy and exciting ride over the last several months, and some exciting developments have come our way. As many of you already know, my tenure as a remote Admissions Counselor for Regent University ended in February. We knew it was coming this year but didn’t think it would be that early. Thankfully, this worked out very well for us, as I picked up extra courses to teach online for Liberty University and it gave me more time to focus on my last doctoral course before I head into my dissertation phase. That said, Ashlee and I were a little in the dark…ok…. maybe a lot in the dark about what was next in our lives. I had never set out to be an admissions counselor, and the job with Regent, though I was incredibly thankful for it, was seen by us as more of an intermediate stopgap sort-of-a-position; an in-between place. My heart was, and still is, in teaching. Enter opportunity.
I’m still not completely sure what drew the principal of Transformation Academy to look at my profile on LinkedIn, but I accepted the request to connect and then within a day I found myself in a conversation about teaching prospects at TAS. I was very forthright about the fact that I had minimal teaching experience with high schoolers, and was primarily experienced with college students, but that did not seem to faze him. I was curious but a bit indifferent when we first started the conversation and was honestly thinking about others I could refer him to for the position. But as the conversation went on, the time passed, and many discussions were had with my wife, daughters, and friends, an interest in this opportunity grew. My interest in this opportunity is not without a relevant history. My first go around at college was at Texas A&M, from 1994-1998. I was a Poli-Sci major, and then a History major before I dropped out in order to attempt to work full-time and get in-state tuition so that I could finish up more affordably. Instead of going back to A&M, I was pulled in a different academic direction and thus began studies in theology in 2001. But during my time at A&M I completed courses like “Asian Government and Politics” and “U.S., Chinese, and Japanese Relations.” I have always been fascinated by Asia, and meeting Ashlee in 1998 only ramped that interest up.
Ashlee, whose father was Filipino, introduced me to all sorts of Asian cuisine and culture that I had not yet been introduced to on a personal level. We loved Asian people….and their food. When I was in graduate school I would edit papers for Korean neighbors and we’d have dinners together. We loved Japan, and Korea, and sought ways that we might be able to work over in one of those countries. Nothing seemed to work out at that stage of life. As I transferred from one school to the next, we had more kids, and the prospects of taking a large family to the other side of the world seemed unachievable, and so we shelved the passion. I got a good teaching job in Tennessee, and we were content with raising our kids in good ol’ Merica. However, our move to Lynchburg, Virginia set some opportunities in motion that caused us to dream again. I was accepted into a Ph.D. program in Belgium, which I had to travel to once a year, and I was invited on a rafting trip in Kazakhstan. In addition to my journeys, Ashlee was invited to travel to Portugal with our oldest daughter to do philanthropic photography for a couple of organizations, and we all began to dream again of where we might go next as a family.
Fast forward to February, to a LinkedIn conversation with a man that was asking me if I wanted to come to China with my family to teach the humanities to Chinese high school students. I went from not taking it seriously the first day, to feeling like it was probably the right thing to do the next day. Shanghai, China is a long way away, but we all (our daughters included) have a peaceful excitement about stepping out on this new journey. So, as it now stands, we are planning to leave for China this summer, possibly in July. We’ve got a lot of logistical hoops to jump through, but we believe we have adequate time to make it happen. Please know that a lot of prayer and advice gathering have gone into this decision, and we are fully aware of the complexities and challenges of taking this step. We believe the beauty of the opportunity set before us outweighs the challenges. I’m excited to work with a very dynamic and flourishing Chinese private school in Shanghai, and I’m honored that they would entrust a portion of their students’ educational paths to me. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we work towards this opportunity. If you have any further questions about this opportunity or our plans, please feel free to reach out via email or Messenger.