Art teacher Zabrielle Dillon traveled the world to expand her teaching abilities and gain cultural perspective.

Addi House, Lifestyle Editor

Many know Zabrielle Dillon as the Sandpoint High School art, pottery, and glass blowing teacher; however, many are unsure of the reason behind her absence for the past two years.

In September of 2016, Dillon and her family moved to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Middle East. Landing in the city of Abu-Dhabi, she and her husband both took teaching positions at an International Baccalaureate (IB) School.

The Baccalaureate program is an advanced school, owned by the king or Sheikh of Abu-Dhabi. Students who attend the high tuition school are often friends of the Sheikh or in the upper echelon.

“It was a private government owned school, which we don’t have such a thing here, so it was a very unique circumstance,” Dillon stated.

Already teaching art at SHS, Dillon was hoping to advance her knowledge in teaching with the help of the IB program. Teaching art to boys and girls in secondary schooling was a bit of a learning process for Dillon; however, she accepted the challenge.

While Dillon had originally planned to teach and stay put in Abu-Dhabi, with little hesitation, she and her family later left the UAE and traveled through many different countries to end up in Thailand. Though offered several job opportunities, Dillon decided that it was best for the family if she remained a mom to her kids and enjoy the time that she had to grow and see the world with her family.

“The trip was amazing; as a teacher I don’t get to spend that kind of growing time with my kids and to have two years with them and getting to be their teacher, I wouldn’t have changed a thing,” Dillon stated.

Having to exit Thailand every three months to renew their Visas, Dillon and her family traveled to 27 different countries throughout the course of the two years. She was especially fond of Sri Lanka because it was a beautiful place with such kind people.

“They made me feel really happy to be there, and to be an American and be treated so kindly was such a stark contrast to the UAE,” Dillon said.

Going on this adventure to change her view on how she taught and to grow; Dillon wants to bring new experiences, motivation, excitement, and inspiration back into her classroom. After having returned to Sandpoint, Dillon is thrilled to now apply all of her newfound cultural experience and world view into her teachings.

“I fear that as teachers that if we teach too long, we just roll along doing the same thing because it’s comfortable and easy and I’d already invented that ‘thing’ and I don’t want to have to use it as a crutch or depend on it,” Dillon stated when listing the reasons behind her trip.

Now being back at Sandpoint High School, Dillon is excited for the lack of expectations within her classroom, allowing herself to reinvent and add in the new teachings that she had learned during her getaway.

Being able to grow and develop her teaching style, Dillon looks forward to the many ways she can apply cultural aspects of what she has learned into her curriculum.

“The cherry on top is that I found that traveling the world is a really amazing education, you can’t get it any other way besides actually going and doing it,” Dillon said.