MissionNext Blog

In the Classroom: Teaching in Panama


TeachNext visits classrooms at an overseas Christian school in Panama.

How do you end up halfway around the world to teach for a Christian school, in the midst of diverse students and cultures? With thousands of international schools serving millions of students, many educators are looking outside the U.S. to teach. For the body of Christ, an even more exciting possibility exists—working in Christian schools, sharing the love of Jesus.

Bob Pittman, Director of TeachNext, journeyed to Panama to discover a little bit about what life is like in an international Christian classroom. The first stop:

Juntos Podemos Curundu

Bob (middle) talks with the school director, Eric Garcia (left) about life in Panama.

We met with Eric Garcia, the director of the school. He had worked 20 years in IT for another company. Yet he felt the Lord wanted him to do something else, so he quit — with no new job lined up. Shortly after, a position opened up at Juntos Podemos Curundu. The school is in a poor neighborhood, which has often been thought to be unsafe. But by God’s grace, the local people appreciate what the school is doing for local kids and leave them alone.

The school is bilingual and ministers to local kids in grades K-5, with plans to add a grade each year. It also offers secondary school for adults, which follows a GED program. The secondary school meets in the evenings and has about 70 students who get degrees in commerce.

Juntos Podemos Curundu’s vision is to:

  1. Offer bilingual education
  2. Give the kids a good education
  3. Ensure the kids come to know the Lord.

Crossroads Christian Academy

Pastor Steve Gunn (middle) shared about Crossroads Bible Church’s role in the school.

The next school on the journey, Crossroads Christian Academy, began in 1997 when several homeschool families asked if they could use the church facilities.  Each family took a Sunday School room and shared recess, lunch and a few common activities. The school has three distinctives:

  1. They are English
  2. They have American curriculum, and
  3. They are distinctively Christian.

Crossroads is an NICS school and now has about 270 students.

While at Crossroads, I caught up with several teachers who ended up in Panama through TeachNext. School director Beth Almack said that of the staff of 44, around 50% come from the U.S., and “most of our solid leads come from TeachNext.” The school provides its staff a stipend, though families who come will need to raise some support.

One teacher said she found her position through an internet search for missions and teaching that led her to TeachNext. She was contacted “within hours” of posting her profile, and went to the field within two months. Another teacher shared, “Coming to Panama has been an amazing experience, and I am so thankful that God directed me to Crossroads Christian Academy whether I am here for just the two years on my current contract, or for 20 more!”

Panama is just one pin in the map if you are searching to teach internationally. Is God calling you to take your classroom somewhere new? Find the right fit in one of hundreds of international Christian schools through TeachNext. 

Bob Pittman, Director of Education at MissionNext

Bob Pittman, Director of Education at MissionNext

Bob is an MK (missionary kid), born in Mexico. In 1972 after teaching five years in the US public schools and one year in a Christian School, Bob and his wife Linda went to Faith Academy in the Philippines where Bob taught Math. He then moved into administration and his last four years there he served as Secondary Principal, responsible for grades six to twelve. Bob and Linda went to Indonesia in 1987 to begin Hillcrest International School (HIS), an intermission school. Bob later served in Dallas in the Children’s Education Department. He was the International Children’s Education Coordinator for SIL International and Wycliffe International (2000-2006). He then served as the Children’s Education Coordinator for SIL Asia Area and Wycliffe Asia-Pacific Area (2006-2011). He now serves at the SIL Asia Area and Wycliffe Asia-Pacific Area CHED Consultant (2011–2017) and director of MissionNext Education, (formerly Mission:TEACH,TeachNext), a website to recruit teachers for MK schools. (2012–present)

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