Impact through education

Dunn in Kenya 01.2017

Newman alumnus teaching in Kuwait City strives to make an impact in the lives of his students.

Alumnus Joe Dunn said he’s always loved to experience new cultures and people. So when he was given the opportunity to teach in another country, he was more than happy to take on the adventure.

Dunn earned his undergraduate degree in secondary education at Newman University in 2007. He later graduated with a master’s in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in English as a second language.

“I started my teaching career as a language and cultural teacher in Spain for a year,” said Dunn. “I returned after a year to teach at John Marshall Middle School in Wichita.”

Dunn taught at Marshall until 2014, then moved to Philadelphia for two years. From there, Dunn’s life began to take an interesting turn.

“While at John Marshall, I started doing volunteer teaching during the summers. I taught in Bangladesh, northern India with the Tibetan refugees, northern Uganda and Guatemala.”

The teacher exchange trip to northern Uganda is where he met his wife.

The trips allowed him to network with colleagues and form friendships with people from all over the world. He was contacted by one of those friends and told about an opportunity to teach in Kuwait.

He and his wife both applied and, in 2016, were offered jobs at the American School of Kuwait.

He taught eighth-grade U.S. history for the first two years.  He will teach AP human geography and psychology in the high school during the 2018-19 academic year.

“I am growing professionally and getting more experience in teaching. I want to move into administration but have also wanted to start my Ph.D. I am at a point where I am very comfortable in the classroom and want to continue to grow professionally.”

He said making an impact in the lives of his students is one of his favorite parts of what he does.

“The thing that has made me feel like I am making the most impact is having students come back after having my class and talk about what they learned or how much they miss the class. Or how students will tell me that they have applied something that was learned in class to their daily life.”

Living and teaching in a different country has certainly made on impact on him, he said.

“Living in a different culture is an amazing experience. It helps you learn more about yourself and your values. When you are away, you re-evaluate what is truly important to you. 

“I have found that we have so much more in common with people around the globe. People have the same basic wants — to be loved, to be kind, to laugh, to be happy — and the same fears — to fail, to be hurt, to lose something or someone important.”

Dunn said impact is an important part of life: whether it’s learning from those who have made an impact on him or finding ways to impact others’ lives.

“I think Newman and the education I received there had a massive impact on my life. I loved the professors and how they made a huge effect on me and on my perspectives. Newman helped me to remember how with service and humility you can genuinely learn to better yourself.”

He said that is what he wants do — to make a difference in other people’s lives and in his community, wherever that may be.

“I guess what I really want to do is help the world be a little bit happier, smarter and more connected.” 

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