Giving Back to Future Educators
Posted on August 30, 2019 by Joy Washington
The Tiffany K. Whitfield Scholarship for Education Students (undergraduate) will be
awarded beginning in the Fall of 2019 through the University of South Alabama. The
endowment will cover books and supplies for deserving Juniors or Seniors in USA’s
College of Education and Professional Studies. “The rising costs of books and supplies
have gone up tremendously,” Whitfield said. “I want to make it easier for deserving
students and make sure they don’t have to worry about it as I did.”
Whitfield is very grateful and said that South helped her in so many ways. “I grew up here. I had amazing professors who challenged me and encouraged me. Those same instructors gave me recommendations for teaching overseas. It’s only right to give back to those who really helped me.”
After earning her undergraduate and graduate degrees from USA’s College of Education and Professional Studies, Whitefield wanted to teach in Dubai, even though the thought of studying abroad never crossed her mind. However, at that time, she needed three years of teaching experience to qualify. Not to be discouraged, she adhered to the advice from her parents, stayed home in Mobile and worked for two years at Allentown Elementary School as a Special Education Instructor. “USA really prepared me for the challenges of being a teacher. I really enjoy teaching and as I was completing my second year here, I found that Kuwait only required two years of teaching experience,” she said. “So, I took a leap of faith, followed my heart and applied to teach in one of the richest countries in the Middle East.”
Kuwait is constantly looking for English-speaking educators to teach its growing population. The primary language in Kuwait is Arabic. However, English is widely spoken there and there is a huge demand, by many from preschoolers to university students, to learn the language. “We’re treated well and respected. We’re close to downtown, and we have all the comforts of home. The country has well-preserved archaeological sites, vast desert landscapes, and white sandy beaches,” she said.
Whitfield is a first-grade educator with 25 energetic, six-year old boys in her class.
She has a teaching assistant and they focus on an American based curriculum of math
and language arts. “Teaching is my passion and I love my boys,” she said. “My kids
have become part of my life. It’s interesting because I’m teaching them how to speak
English fluently and they’re teaching me how to speak Arabic. Some of them bring me
flowers. Their parents send me gifts. It’s never a dull moment with my boys. I love
each of them.”
Although teaching and tutoring takes up most of her time, Tiffany loves to travel. “Taking advantage of the location, I travel with other American teachers from our school. I have been to Africa, Europe, Thailand and Dubai,” she said. “Next up, Israel and Greece.”
Offering some of the best incentives for international teachers, Kuwait is an ideal destination for those interested in teaching while being immersed in Arab culture. “For those interested in the experience, you have to be flexible, open-minded and have a good understanding of Arabic culture and customs. It’s an exciting place to live and work as long as you don’t mind year-long sunshine,” she said.