Class of 2013 Profile: Leland Crawford

Only three weeks before our new BCF class of 2013 fly into Paro and begin their new adventure in Bhutan!  Please welcome, Leland Crawford, who will be teaching English at Trashiyangtse LSS, in Trashiyangtse.

Leland Crawford

Leland has travelled, lived, and taught in many places in the world.

The current list is: Places he lived: China – 2.5 years, Saudi Arabia – 2 year, Ghana – 1 Year, Ecuador – 9 Months, and all over the USA (coasts mostly).

Places he visited: Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, England, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Morocco, New Zealand, The Philippines, Rapa Nui, Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Togo, Turkey, Ukraine.

Needless to say travel and teaching is a big part of his life. He is an archaeologist by training, and hopes to someday get his PhD in Maritime Archaeology. He is also an avid diver, though he realises that he will be doing little scuba in 2013.

Leland loves music and loves to be outdoors. He hopes to learn the ukulele while in Bhutan and drink a truckload of yak butter tea.

Welcome Leland!

Stories from the Field – Walking after School

Continuing with Stories from the Field, we’re happy to share BCF teacher, Iman’s story, of her experience at Rukubji Primary School.

From the first day, I began the routine of taking a walk after school.

An athlete at home, I needed a way to keep my body moving and wind down after teaching. Since Rukubji is a small village surrounded by mountains and forest, there are beautiful paths to walk. Yet the best walks have been on the road with my students. Many students at my primary school walk for up to an hour to reach school each day.

Walking them home has become a favorite activity. At first, the students were a bit shy to talk and ask questions, but that quickly faded. They began torrential questioning, asking me about all the things I know and don’t know. They began to open up, to talk about their lives, to share jokes, songs, and stories. I can hear the improvement in their English too, as they try to make me understand- searching for words, asking for meanings. They now ask me “Where are you walking today Miss?”, eager that I’ll say the name of their village.

I have developed relationships with my students that would not be possible without these walks. I have learned who they are beyond the classroom, something that is far more difficult to do in an American school. Knowing who they are has helped me teach them. I can draw on my experiences with them and contextualize and connect what we are learning.

One of my favorite walks began with teaching the words to “Doe, a deer …” from “The Sound of Music”. By the time we had reached the road from the path out of Rukubji, I had the whole crew of Chazam-bound students chanting at the top of their voices. We sang the entire 3-kilometer walk, entering the village of Chazam as if we were the musical itself.

These walks will forever be in my heart because of the students who made them so memorable.

Photo Credits: Iman Mefleh

What a great story, thanks Iman!

Class of 2013 Profile: Sharon Gan

Happy Holidays from BCF!

We’re happy to introduce another new BCF teacher, Sharon Gan. Sharon will be joining us from Singapore and will be teaching Biology and General Science at Pemagatshel MSS.

Sharon Gan


Sharon is from Singapore but moved to the United States with her family when she was 13.

She is a University of Michigan-Ann Arbor graduate in psychology and biology. She has also just recently completed her M.A. in Curriculum Design and Instruction from Teachers College.

Since returning to Singapore in 2004, she has been teaching general science and biology to teens.

She enjoys swimming, reading, and watching movies. She also loves to travel and eat!

Coming from a small country, she quickly developed a keen interest in travelling and exploring new places, trying different things, and meeting people to cultivate friendships and experiences.

Kuzuzangpola Sharon!

Teacher Blog of the Week: BCFers last sightings in Bhutan-tears of sorrow

Reading Vicky and Ian’s last blog post as they headed on to a new adventure, after two passionate years living in Bhutan, made all of us sad but excited for all that has been accomplished and how strong we continue to grow together.

As much as the scenery and the amazing students, one of the great privileges of working in Bhutan has been meeting so many likeminded people. They are a diverse group of individuals who share a passion for teaching and a commitment to life long learning. We spent a lot of the limited social time we had together discussing our students, our lessons, our methodologies and the Bhutanese system as well sharing our educational insights and our varied and wide ranging experiences in the classroom in an assortment of countries. We are all passionate about what we do and I would like to honour them in this final blog. It is our fervent hope that we remain in contact with such truly inspirational and dedicated people.
Read their whole post and see all the pictures at BCFers last sightings in Bhutan-tears of sorrow
Photo Credit: Vicky and Ian.

To Vicky and Ian, and to every teacher that has given so much to Bhutan – we thank you and wish you the best in all your future endeavours!

Class of 2013 Profile: Sarah Shmitt

In less than one month all of our new teachers will be in the air, flying from locations all across the world and coming together in Paro, Bhutan. One of these adventurous educators is Sarah Shmitt, an experienced high school teacher who will be heading to Punakha HSS, opposite the Punakha Dzong.

Sarah Shmitt

Sarah grew up in Wisconsin, but lived most of her life in Boston, Massachusetts where she pursued several degrees, among them a Masters in Theology (specifically in Buddhist and Judeo-Christian social ethics) and one in education and history.  

She wisely moved to Portland, Maine twelve years ago where she has since taught English and Social Studies at Portland High School.

A co-founder and director of Portland High School’s Global Studies Certificate Program, Sarah designed and teaches the only World Religions class in a public school in Maine.

In 2007, she became a Fulbright Teacher Exchange participant and taught in Chennai, India.  This experience, in concert with her academic and personal interest in Buddhism, provoked a curiosity about the relationship between culture, religion, and educational excellence.

Teaching in Bhutan thus effectively blends all of her passions.  She is a devoted cyclist and hiker, an adventurous eater, and a lover of music, art, and poetry of all kinds.

Welcome Sarah!

Happy National Day!

Today, December 17th, represents the 105th National Day for Bhutan. This day commemorates the 1907 coronation of the first King of Bhutan, Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck, at Punakha Dzong.

Read the Royal Address to the Nation by His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck at the 105th National Day celebration at Changlimithang Ground.

Tonight, to celebrate Bhutan National Day, come join us from 6 to 8pm at 61 Elm Avenue in Toronto with friends, food, and fun!

Class of 2013 Profile: Colin Johnston

Today, we’re happy to introduce another addition to the BCF family – Colin Johnston, a science teacher from the UK, will be replacing BCF alumni, Scott Harris, at Yadhi HSS, in Mongar dzongkhag

Colin Johnston

Colin was born and raised in Woodbridge on the East Coast of Britain. He has strong interest in science and the natural world and studied for a BSc in Animal Behaviour at University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Upon realising not everyone shared his enthusiasm he decided to become a science teacher. After teacher training at Sussex University he gained employment in a secondary school in Newbury where he spent two years.

For him Bhutan will be the biggest adventure he has ever had and is looking forward to meeting wonderful people and eating chillies for breakfast.

Welcome Colin!

Edu4Happiness – Impressive But Not Convincing, Ron Canuel

As we near the end of 2012, we look back at the past year – the highlights and accomplishments, and new ways to grow and improve together. A particularly engaging and innovative effort was this summer’s Educating for Sustainable Happiness symposium held at Cushing Academy.

We’re proud to showcase another video from the symposium. Ron Canuel, CEO of the Canadian Education Association, and his keynote, centered around the importance of having educators and students take the charge to integrate and implement new strategies in education, especially relating to technology.

Missed one of the keynotes and want to catch up? Watch them and other Bhutan-specific videos on our YouTube Channel:


Class of 2013 Profile: David Plant

How exciting – only six weeks until our new BCF class of 2013 begins orientation! Today, we’re proud to introduce Dave Plant, a math and science teacher, who will be keeping the BCF spirit alive as he replaces BCF alumni David Green at Pakshikha MSS near Gedu.
Dave Plant

Dave was born in a rural Canadian fishing village on Lake Erie. He spent his formative years in-between Ontario and B.C., then earned an Astronomy degree at the University of Hawaii.

 He discovered his beloved profession of teaching as a teacher, guide, and ranger in Hawaii, then as an English teacher in Japan and Taiwan.

 More recently, he earned an education degree and has taught elementary through high school for the past three years in British Columbia.

 His hobbies include: hiking, travelling, camping, surfing, learning, reading, swimming, yoga, and taking pictures. He is very much looking forward to his time in the Kingdom of Bhutan.

Kuzuzangpola Dave!