“I fell in love with SAS before I was even here,” says Kristl Quirante, middle school science teacher at Shanghai American School’s Puxi campus. “I saw how innovative they were trying to be, and they looked like they were doing such cool and awesome things, and I thought ‘oh, I want to go to a school like that’.”
Kristl came to SAS with her husband Adam Fusco (high school science teacher and AP Coordinator) back in 2014, but they almost didn’t make it. “At the end of 2013 during winter break, Adam and I got married at Punta Cana,” Kristl says. They were then scheduled to fly back to Moscow, where they were teaching at the time, “to drop off our wedding and Christmas stuff,” before heading off to Thailand to attend the Bangkok Job Fair.
“We got to DC, but our flight to Moscow from DC got cancelled because of the weather, so we were delayed there a little bit. We decided to drive from DC to Buffalo, then drove again from Buffalo to NYC because the Buffalo-NYC flight got cancelled as well because of a blizzard,” Kristl recounts with a laugh. They managed to hop on the last flight out to Moscow, where they dropped off all their luggage and almost immediately, jumped on another plane to get to Bangkok. “We were one of the last few people to be let on the plane!”
Thankfully, Kristl and Adam managed to get to the Bangkok fair in good time, where they spoke with Dr. Sasha Heckmann, the Puxi campus’ high school principal at the time, and got hired that very day. “It’s just crazy to think about all the things that happened before we got there, and how we’d almost missed our flight to Bangkok. If we’d gotten there a day late, I’m sure the positions we were hired for would have been gone. SAS was the one place we really, really wanted to come to, and things could have turned out so differently.”
Kristl first heard about SAS when she was in grad school. “I wanted to teach and see the world at the same time. I’d known about programs like the JET Program (teaching exchange program managed by the government of Japan), but I wanted to actually live somewhere else. I wanted to appreciate and get to know a different culture, and then be able to teach in those cultures.” Being ethnically Filipino, she also felt particularly connected to Asia, and felt that she really wanted to live in and get to know that part of the world. Teaching in international schools would allow her to achieve that, so she began doing her research. “One of the things I came across again and again was this well-established school that was doing cool, innovative things, that offered a curriculum that I was somewhat familiar with, being an American school…and that was SAS.”
Her research into SAS really set the bar high. The school had high expectations to live up to, and thankfully, we delivered—“SAS has been amazing in so many ways. Take for example, my first year here. I was tasked with creating an earth and space science course based off the standards of the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards). As part of the curriculum, I wanted our own planetarium. When I was teaching back in the States, we had to rent one out and shared it between schools, and I thought it’d be awesome if we could have that here, and we could share it with the elementary school.”
And she got it. “When it was set up, the kids were on their hands and knees looking up, and were all ‘whoah this is cool’. And we could see the stars and the night sky, which was amazing, since we’re in the city, and it can be difficult to do that.”
To Kristl, it’s things like that that really made teaching at SAS so fulfilling. “It’s not only the resources, but also the faith and support and training that SAS provides us, that allows us to do a lot of things as teachers. I really love it here. I mean, we’ve been here for so long, and we’ll probably hit double digits here. We’re a family of Eagles, we’re going to be here awhile.
ROOTS. EVERY DAY AT SAS.