Courtnay Skipper joined Saint Paul’s in 2020 as our Junior Knights. As much as she loves teaching abroad, she decided to start her 16th year teaching back in the states. Ms. Skipper has taught all over the world including Gainesville; where she started teaching, China, and Guatemala. She joined us after having taught first grade in China for four years at American International School.
Courtnay said, “Traveling and working abroad was something I’ve always wanted to do. I had never moved out of Gainesville and I decided I needed to jump in with both feet. China was my first time out of the country and it was quite a culture shock, but it was also the intense feeling that makes you grow as a person. It opened my eyes as to how small the world is, and yet so diverse.”
Courtnay said it was strange to experience things that seemed so foreign and yet so natural to those that live there. Ms. Skipper said, “I discovered what I am capable of and I learned to trust myself.” She described her time abroad as a time to become self-reliant and gain confidence in doing things on her own. She said, “I now know I can go somewhere without knowing anyone, not understanding the currency and all the cultural nuances, and I will be ok.”
After her time in China, Courtnay taught second grade in Guatemala for three years. There, she said, you have to be constantly on and aware of your surroundings as there are daily real life safety issues.
Ms. Skipper also spent time in Thailand where she learned a great deal about self-awareness. It was there that she learned about Buddhism and meditation. She participated in meditation practices for three hours a day and learned how to implement that into her daily life which she now brings into her classroom. She said, “I try to remember what I learned and bring out the tools I have and utilize them when I feel anxious or overwhelmed and I use this for my students to help them in the classroom as well.”
During all of this time, Ms. Skipper took the opportunity to travel to 11 countries and continue to expand her cultural knowledge.
She was ready to return to Florida and plant some roots and be geographically closer to family. She joined Saint Paul’s during a global pandemic and had definitely relied on her mindfulness and meditation during this time. Courtnay said, “ I love the kids in my class and the community they have with each other. I see them taking the mindfulness they have learned in class home and applying it at home. My parents have noted that their children tell them to breathe when things get crazy. I am glad to see them learning, growing, and sharing this knowledge. I am so pleased to have earned the trust of my parents. Additionally, I truly appreciate the openness of the leadership here. I am desperate to experience the full impact of the Saint Paul’s community when life returns to normal.” She is passionate about practicing mindfulness with her class. Ms. Skipper said, “I am ecstatic to have planted myself back in Florida! I am thrilled to be a part of Saint Paul's!”