Q. What brought you to UCR University Extension?

A. I am an English Language and Literature teacher at the Horizon International School Jinja in Uganda. Before I joined UCR Universiy Extension, I was already planning to take a course to broaden my leadership and management skills to round out and add to my teaching resume, but I didn’t know where to begin. When I enrolled in Liverpool John Moores University with the support of a UNICAF half scholarship, I was offered the chance to take a specialty course with UCR University Extension. I chose exactly what I needed: Business Management: Develop Your Understanding of Contemporary Issues within Management.

Q. What were some of the unexpected benefits?

A. Well, what really stood out for me was coming to the realization that everyone needs to have a competitive advantage and without one, he/she stands higher chances of being an ordinary person in their career and life. It is from this realization that I started to task myself to build a brand that is unique, a brand that will make me create a legacy as a teacher. Right now, I am confident to say that as I have completed several short courses, I have become more intentional with the way I interract with my students and colleagues because I know practice is what will differentiate me from any other teachers and give me a competitive advantage.

Q. What difference did your experience at UCR University Extension make to your life path and career goals?

A. Studying at UCR University Extension made me discover that learning online can be fun and engaging, it is not a matter of logging onto your computer and finishing assignments. The modules of my course were delivered in an engaging way that made me pause and reflect several times. I was able to draw lots of connections and relate to what is happening in my current place of work--especially when it came to personality attitudes, work behaviour, decision making, planning and other contemporary issues in classroom management. I can confidently say that studying Business Mangement has helped me develop my understanding of contemporary issues within management and classroom management, and I am a better leader because of what I learned during the course.

Q. What are you doing now?

A. I am a master’s student at Liverpool John Moores University, and I currently teach Literature and English language to both ESL (English as a Second Language) and FLE (First Language English) students. As a teacher of English language, I have the responsibility of designing engaging lessons, assessing student progress, and providing constructive feedback to my learners. My career objective is to encourage critical thinking, innovativeness and higher order thinking in a safe environment that can allow my students to express themselves and explore their full potential.

Q. What professional and personal achievements are you most proud of and why?

A. One of my greatest professional achievements is being able to build trust-based relationships with my students. I love connectiong with them, getting to know their interests and having them feel safe around me. This is one thing I celebrate. I feel that my students don’t pass highly because I am the best teacher of English Language and Literature, but that they pass highly because they have been given the opportunity to explore and do their best in a safe space.

The safety they feel makes them excited to learn and explore new things in an innovative and creative way. It allows them to maximize their potential to become better people in their communities.

Q. What has been the greatest challenge you have faced during your career?

A. One of the greatest challenges during my career was when I worked under the leadership of a headteacher who didn’t embrace diversity. She had a fixed mindset and was not willing to adapt to change, there was no opportunity for growth, and the place was very toxic. My turning point was when she called me to her office and said, “Suzan, if you say you need time to learn how to properly teach lower Primary, it means you have failed as a teacher.” I remember smiling when I heard her say that because I knew I was being honest with myself and I needed time to adjust to teaching lower Primary. You won’t believe this, but my smiling got me a warning letter. It’s important that, even in the face of a challenge like this, and words like these, you stay true to yourself and your beliefs. It will make you a more successful teacher—not a failed one.

Q. What advice would you give to students or graduates looking to move into teaching

A. Build your brand and work toward creating a longlasting positive impact. Don’t just work, always put forward your best efforts,embrace your uniqueness and don’t let others pull you down. Above all, don’t forget to be a lifelong learner because being able to learn and adjust to change at any time will make you an exceptional teacher.

Q. Final thoughts, Suzan?

A. I am always open to taking up new challenges that can help me grow in my career. I want to gather experience from different international schools in different countries and use my experiences to help learners learn better in a safe environment. I also want to find ways of making teachers, like me, benefit. I want to break the stereotype in my country that teachers are ordinary and poor people. I want society to realize that teachers can do great things.

We love hearing from an international teacher looking for new ways to round out their resume and apply new skills to classroom management. Suzan Apai is a perfect example of an innovative lifelong learner. She took a Business Management course and applied those tools to create a successful classroom environment. Good luck, Suzan, and we wish you every success!

English Language and Literature Teacher, Horizon International School Jinja, Uganda
Master's student, Liverpool John Moores University
Graduate, UCR University Extension
Business Management: Develop Your Understanding of Contemporary Issues within Management