Panthers Of ISKL #31 - Becky Naughton - Inspiring IB Educator & Chair Of The Faculty Association
This week, we met up with Becky Naughton, who, apart from holding the Chair of the Faculty Association position has been a HS IB Economics and IB Psychology Teacher at ISKL since 2017.
Find out more about Becky's background, her role as faculty, what truly inspires her, and why she advocates more young women in the world to become economists!
Here is her story.
‘I am originally from just outside Chicago, and after graduating high school, I went to Eastern Illinois University for my undergraduate degree. After graduating, I taught for ten years in Chicago and got my Master's in Economics, a Master's in Education Administration, and a Ph.D. in Professional Studies in Education. I taught Civics, Economics, Psychology, Sociology, US History, and World History in a high school of over 1800 students in Chicago, where 90% were considered low income.
'Before coming to Malaysia, I lived in the beautiful city of Beirut in Lebanon for four years. Here I taught IB Psychology, IB History, and IB Economics. I have also coached both the Boys and Girls Varsity volleyball, Junior Varsity and ES volleyball, cheerleading, and track and field.
'We moved to KL in 2017 because we were excited about living in Malaysia and learning more about the people and the culture. We jumped at the chance to join because of its incredible reputation for fostering a community.
'In my first year at ISKL, I started off teaching IB Business and IB Economics. I have always been passionate about economics, and I think it is essential for everyone to learn about the subject as it applies to everyday life.
'Economics is all about making choices and how we, as humans, think of marginal analysis, opportunity costs, and more. Plus, we get to use real-world examples all the time to discuss the decisions governments are making around the world.
'Each year, I think, wow, there is so much in the news this year we can talk about in class, and the next year it's the same! It helps students pay attention to the world around them and work with real data through case studies, to analyze the decisions governments have made and are still making. I think economics gets a bad rap as the "dismal science," and people often think it is all about money and stocks - it isn't at all! As a woman in the field, I believe it is crucial for young women everywhere to know it is an excellent path for them to take, as there are not many female economists!
'In my second year, I taught IB Psychology as it had been offered in the past but disappeared for a while. This has been so exciting to do, as we see increasing numbers of students each year interested in the program - this year, we have four sections of Grade 11 and four in Grade 12.
'This course is so incredible for anyone who wants to understand human behavior and cognitive processes better. We look at research and theories, understanding ourselves and those around us. We conduct research, having opportunities to observe students in Prep Senior, run experiments with 3rd graders, and complete Internal Assessment experiments on our parents and teachers in the community. It is one of the best days of the year for me to watch the students shine and conduct research on what professionals do and have their parents learn more about the subject by participating.
"As the Chair of the Faculty Association, I bring together the teacher representatives from each of the divisions. We meet once a month to discuss issues we see or changes we think would help the school continue to meet its strategic plan. We then meet with the Administration to discuss these items each month.
'I appreciate that the school has this system where teachers can voice their opinions to the administrators, and there is a real dialogue. Rami Madani (Head of School), Jim Griffin (Director Of Business Operations), and Pristina Kok (HR Director) work with us to help make the school a wonderful place.
'One hobby I have is running! My husband, Ryan Naughton (Director of Activities/Athletics), and I run every morning before school, and it is my version of meditation. I often get some great ideas for the day during this time. I also enjoy different kinds of workouts, and have been running virtual activities during the MCO and even now while our athletes aren't able to practice. It is so fun to see the students and community members push themselves beyond what they thought they could, and it always makes me work harder.
'I also enjoy reading any book - fiction or nonfiction. It doesn't matter. I enjoy finding authors of different backgrounds to read about the human experience from all kinds of lenses.
'Traveling is a hobby that I have been lucky to pursue with my husband, and taking these international jobs allows us to learn about people and cities worldwide. I also love to stand up paddleboarding. Ryan and I have been very fortunate that we have taken our boards around Malaysia in the last few years, seeing lots of great sea life!
'I am inspired so much by the students we work with. These students are so involved in issues that they are passionate about. Whether it is saving the elephants, participating in Trash Hero on the weekends to clean up our neighborhoods, spreading joy through the anonymous work of our CheerSquad members who send notes and candy to community members to bring a smile to someone's day, the CareBears CAS group, or creating a space where young women can come in and talk about issues they are afflicted with. Students who work with refugee populations through groups like Fugee School to recognize the work that still needs to be done. The students here want to find their place.
'Moreover, I'm inspired by those who have come before me giving me rights and freedoms, those who have worked against systems that oppressed them and others, and still bring justice and equality to all people. They inspire me to keep working by being an ally, speaking out when needed, and encouraging others to do the same, to find their voice.
'My most memorable moment at ISKL? Each day brings some great moments that, at different times, come back to you as an incredible day that stands out!
'There was a great moment during my first year sitting on the floor with seniors the last day of class discussing what they have learned outside of the class curriculum expectations. The IASAS volleyball trips with both the girls and boys that I have been able to be a part of - where you see teams win games excitingly, showing off their hard work. Watching a young man clear a height that he didn't ever clear before at a Track High Jump event, and having his whole team stand around and lose it for him after clearing it. Or being on a Global Action Program (GAP) trip watching a student who is afraid of heights conquer that fear as we are repelling through Sri Lanka, learning just how capable they are.
'It is so fun being an HS IB Economics and IB Psychology Teacher! Every day is the best because students are always learning and discovering something they didn't know. The progress is tremendous and quick. It is fantastic to hear students talking halfway through the year speaking the language of Economics or Psychology without noticing and realizing how far they have come.
'The most challenging part of the job is the hard conversations you have with students sometimes. Teenagers deal with so much outside of school that we, as adults, may not always be aware of. I have had many conversations with students that make me want to cry, but at that moment, you have to be strong for them, listen to them, and be there."
What does 'Be All You Are' mean to you?
"I always focus on the YOU in Be All You Are. It means what YOU want to do, want to be, and want to try now.
'We are so fortunate to be at this incredible school where students have so many great opportunities, and the Administration welcomes new ideas.
'The only thing stopping students is what they can't think of. We are at a school where the YOU is important because all of us, as a community, is the best YOU can be, and that is what makes this incredible, diverse, inclusive school a leader in the world."