Social studies teacher headed to Cayman Islands for two years

Out of the blue, social studies teacher Chad VanCleve was offered a life-changing opportunity for his whole family to live internationally. He said that fate brought this opportunity.

“A friend that I used to work with in Rotterdam was contacted by some people in the Cayman Islands. They were looking for some teachers, and my friend gave them my name. We weren’t looking for the opportunity — it kind of just fell in our laps,” he said.

This is not the first time for VanCleve to teach in another country. He lived and worked in Rotterdam, Netherlands, for three years before he and his wife had children. But this time around, VanCleve is taking his children with him to the western Caribbean Sea.

“They are five, so they are excited but don’t exactly know what they are going into. All they know is that they are going to an island. The good thing is that it is close, so it is a four hour plane ride,” VanCleve said.

VanCleve and his wife, who will be teaching in the fourth grade, will be instructors at an American international school that has many different cultures represented. However, the curriculum will be taught in English.

“The Cayman Islands is a former UK colony, so they speak in English anyways, but the students that we are teaching when they graduate will get an American high school diploma, which will help them get into college in the future,” VanCleve said. “Many of the kids’ parents are from America, but their parents are doing business in the Cayman Islands. There are about 30 different countries that are going to be represented, so there are other people that move to the island from different countries, and they have decided that this is the best school for them,” he said.

While living in Iowa, VanCleve and his wife have always loved to travel but have found it hard because of the far distance to international places across the ocean.

“One of the reasons we moved overseas the first time was because it was expensive to travel outside of Iowa and out of the country, and we have liked doing it, so we decided that it would just be easier to live outside of the country,” he said.

Iowa will always be the VanCleve family’s true home, but new challenges are something his wife and he are always looking for.

“We like new experiences, and this is not a bad place to live in Iowa, so we came back, but this is an opportunity that was presented to us, and it is nice weather,” he said.

After VanCleve’s two-year appointment, he will return to Cedar Falls High School with different ideas for the classroom.

“I think these types of experiences help people develop professionally. It will give me a fresh look on how other schools are operating and what they do. I am lucky enough to come back here after my leave of absence, and this only helps the school to have more perspective,” he said.

The philosophy of the school that VanCleve will be teaching at is similar to Cedar Falls High School  in many ways, but also has its differences in culture and learning methods.

“They are on the same pathway as far as professional ways such as learning based grading. Both schools have similar goals and concepts, but they are arriving there in different ways. Hopefully, I can bring back to Cedar Falls,” he said.

Traveling through life with a sense of adventure, VanCleve and his family will always be able to call Cedar Falls their home base.

“My wife and I are kind of nomadic. We like the change and like to do these things, so this will reenergize us, and then we can come back to Cedar Falls and know we have done it with our children, so we can check that box,” VanCleve said.

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