Leonard Wallstein

“I decided to come to the Netherlands as the programme at NHL Stenden is so unique in focusing on teaching in international education”
Leonard Wallstein
ITESS student

Growing up in an international environment, having lived in the United States and China, you might think becoming a teacher in an international school was an obvious choice for Leonard Wallstein, but it wasn’t until he took a gap year that his focus moved from engineering to using his love for mathematics in teaching. 

“I moved to New Zealand in 2019 after high school in America and taught at a school in a poor region of the country. I felt so fulfilled by the job, being able to make a tangible impact on the educational, and sometimes personal, lives of my students that I started to explore a career in education.”

Different practices, consistent encouragement 

“I decided to come to the Netherlands as the programme at NHL Stenden is so unique in focusing on teaching in international education. So far, I’ve had internships (what we call teaching practice at ITESS) in Qatar, Germany and the US. It’s given me a broad experience base and helped me become more aware of the differences in educational practices between cultures. For each teaching practice, I’ve had a mentor with a different approach to education and this has helped give me a huge toolbox of methodology. And each time I’ve been encouraged to do as much as I can, even teaching whole lessons in my first year and planning a week of classes for several grades in my third year.”  

Insights and understanding 

“The emphasis of the programme is on practical experience. Being a teacher requires trying new things out and learning by doing, and this wouldn’t be possible without the weeks and weeks of internships we do. For instance, while I knew in theory about the advantages of differentiation according to special education needs, actually seeing the negative impacts of not properly addressing those needs in my class made it so much more important to me. Now I know that when I graduate, I’ll have the skills and confidence to be successful.” 

Making a difference 

ITESS is a small-scale programme so I have a close connection with my lecturers. And as the programme is also still fairly new, as students our feedback has impact on its further development. That makes it very exciting to study here because it feels like you’re at the leading edge of educational development. I’m nearing the end of my degree now and the nature of international education is such that the options for employment are completely unbound by geography. Right now, I’m interested in living in a capital city in the Caucuses, such as Istanbul, Baku or Tbilisi. I want to be an international teacher to see the world, and while I love living in the Netherlands, it’s time for me to turn the page to a new adventure.”  

To find out more about the programme, check out the International Teacher Education for Secondary Schools programme page or request the programme brochure.