Teaching Down South . . . Way Down South . . . In Central America,

Hola from Costa Rica! So far, the morning routine has been the same; hop out of bed, put on a shirt and tie, and take a bus ride that sees a few thousand feet of elevation gain. By mid morning, the clouds have been burned away by a cheerful sun and I can see the fellow mountains that hem in the city of San Jose. What a country! What terrain! What a view!


However, I’m standing at the front of the classroom, trying to inspire ten or so students to stare, not out the windows, but at their history lesson. After years of sitting (and sometimes staring out the window), I’m now taking my turn at the overhead projector.


My name is Matt Steible and I am an Elon student-teacher in another country. On the outskirts of San Jose there is a small American private school. Hosting grades K-12, the Marian Baker School is a gem upon a hill. There are fewer than 200 hundred students in the whole school. This makes for some very small class rosters, every teacher’s dream, sometimes less than ten students per class. Here is the school’s website for more information.

My cooperating teacher, Ms. Smith, and I are working with six different Social Studies classes that are listed below:


1. 8th Grade US History

2. 9th Grade World Cultures, College Placement

3. 9th Grade World Cultures, Honors

4. 11th Grade US History, College Placement

5. 11th Grade US History, Honors

6. Hacia Democracy (Central American Model UN program hosted by Harvard University)


I am excited about each class, we enjoy freedom of curriculum here at Marian Baker. This allows for some very neat possibilities for research projects, focused units, and interdisciplinary coordination with the other secondary teachers. It also allows, as you can imagine, for a lot of paperwork.


In almost two weeks, I’ve settled into my new home with my new family, begun to grasp the Costa Rican education system, Marian Baker’s SACC’s accredited system, and visited a volcano, multiple waterfalls, and the Pacific Ocean.


When a person comes home to a house in which his native language isn’t spoken nor understood, the Boston Tea Party takes on a whole new measure of familiarity. It’s been a learning process borne out of necessity to rediscover and expand my high school Spanish, a process that I have thoroughly enjoyed and which my host family has also enjoyed through some comical linguistic errors. Every day always features something new, but because I teach Social Studies, each day also features something old. I enjoy what I do here, the thrill of teaching and learning is the same in any country.


I’ll end this blog post by wishing the best of luck to all my fellow Elon student teachers. I know I am missing the camaraderie of all the great friends and faculty in the Education department. But, I am right there with you throughout this whole semester, writing lesson plans and grading papers.


Just one time zone behind. Long Live Elon.


Mr. Steible




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