On the HMH Learning Moments podcast today, we have our eighth episode of the Teachers in America series.
Our guest is Garrett Jackson, a Special Education Teacher at Saipan Southern High School in Saipan, the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. Commonwealth in the Western Pacific. Garrett received a Bachelor of Arts in History from The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets. It was during this time that Garrett learned to serve those who are less fortunate, something he has carried with him into his education career. Before moving to Saipan with his wife and son, Garrett taught high school history and government in Lawton, Oklahoma. He recently received his master’s in Autism and Developmental Disabilities from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. In his spare time, Garrett enjoys playing with his son, traveling, hunting, fishing, and amateur radio.
Below is a full transcript of the episode.
Onalee Smith: Welcome to HMH Learning Moments. I'm Onalee and for today's episode of Teachers in America, host Rose Else-Mitchell, an educator and learning scientist, sits down with Garrett Jackson. Garrett is a special education teacher in Saipan which is the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth in the western Pacific. In the fall of 2018 the islands were hit by Typhoon Yutu which devastated their community and left Garrett and his students without power for months. Before moving to Saipan with his family, Garrett taught high school on the mainland in Lawton, Oklahoma. Now I'll turn it over to Garrett and Rose.
Rose Else-Mitchell: Garrett thanks for joining us on HMH Learning Moments: Teachers in America. It's good to have you here.
Garrett Jackson: Thanks for having me.
Rose: So you've taken a long journey to come talk with me, right? You live right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Garrett: I do. I live on the island of Saipan which is part of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and it is a U.S. territory. One of the lesser-known U.S. territories.
[The Northern Mariana Islands is one of the sixteen U.S. territories. Learn more about the island and its demographics.]
Rose: What took you to a teaching job in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?
Garrett: Well I was in a school district in Lawton, Oklahoma, where I had taught 10 years and was looking for a way to learn some other things and expand. My dad and my grandfather had always encouraged people in our family to look for work outside the United States as part of our career path to learn more. And my wife is from the Philippines and she said, “You know, you don't look as happy as you used to. Why don't we look for a job elsewhere? And oh, by the way, why don't we move closer to my family since it's quite a plane trip?” And I said OK we can do that. I had known about the Mariana Islands from classes I took in college and started looking for a job out there and was pleasantly surprised when I got hired.
Rose: Was it hard to…?
Garrett: Not particularly in my field. I'm a special ed teacher so it's not hard to find a job. But they had several openings and it just took a little bit of paperwork and some odd-hour phone calls because of the time difference.
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