Panthers of ISKL #158: Teri Swinson

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Published: Wednesday, 24 May, 2023

– The Soccer Playing Math Teacher

“Every day in class has little moments that make me smile and laugh, but the moments I will never forget are the big ones. I will never forget coaching the Varsity Girls’ Soccer team through our first IASAS post-COVID, and I was so proud of those girls for persevering even when things didn’t go our way.”

Teri Swinson has been the High School (HS) Math teacher at ISKL for the past four years. Originally from Maryland in the USA, she has been teaching in the USA, Argentina, and Korea before starting her teaching journey at ISKL and coaching the Varsity Girl’s Soccer team. Teri will leave the ISKL community at the end of the 2022/2023 academic year and will be taking a year off to travel the world.

Here is Teri’s story:


Do tell us more about yourself.

I was born in Ellicott City, Maryland, in the USA, and grew up there for 18 years until I headed off to college at James Madison University. In college, I majored in mathematics and got my Master’s in Teaching.

My first job was in Arlington, Virginia, teaching 7th-grade math. From there, I started teaching High School (HS) IB math at Lincoln School in Argentina for three years, then onto Jeju Island, South Korea, teaching grades 8 – 12 math at Branksome Hall Asia for two years. Finally, I landed in KL and have taught HS math for four years.

When and why did you join ISKL? What were your first days like?

ISKL has always been a school on my radar because of its phenomenal reputation for being an amazing school. When I saw that they had an opening, I applied right away and was lucky enough to be offered a position. My husband and I were looking for a bigger city feel where he and I could find work (he is a golf pro at RSGC golf club).

The first days here were filled with excitement and stress. Adapting to a new school, settling into a new city, making new friends, and coaching soccer on top of everything was a lot to handle at first. We were also dealing with the dreaded haze in my first semester and then a COVID lockdown in my second semester. So, a rough start, but it turned out great.

Describe your most memorable moment/s at ISKL.

Wow. There are too many memorable moments to count.

Every day in class has little moments that make me smile and laugh, but the moments I will never forget are the big ones. I will never forget coaching the Varsity Girls’ Soccer team through our first IASAS post-COVID, and I was so proud of those girls for persevering even when things didn’t go our way.

I will never forget the 3 GAP trips that I could go on and how we kept working hard even though we were hot and tired. I will also never forget my friends and activities I have participated in at ISKL, such as Stalls Nights, Christmas parties, math department happy hours, and Gaelic football.

Teri Coaching the ISKL girls football team

What will you miss the most about ISKL?

The number one thing I will miss most about the school is the students. The students at ISKL are very special and are who we do all of this for. Students here are hard-working, kind, and grateful while at the same time being funny, spunky, and just cool to talk to. I will miss the jokes, the conversations, and the general mayhem in my class every day.

Can you share a saying or idea you learned or experienced at ISKL that you will carry with you always?

When I first came here and heard the saying, ‘Be all you are,’ I was a little confused about the meaning of that statement. It reminded me of many of the US Army slogans ‘Be all you can be.’ When I thought more about this, though, “Be all you are” implies that you already are enough and that you just need to live up to the potential that you already have inside of you. I like that idea.

Teri in classroom and GAP trip

Do you have any advice to offer for new faculty members who are joining the community?

I would advise anyone just to get involved. ISKL and the community have so much to offer, and there are many ways to become a part of the community. Whether your interests are sports, theater, community service, music, etc., there is a community waiting for you and a way to make a difference in students’ lives. I would also advise having opportunities to get to know our student body because they are pretty awesome.

Who or what is your source of inspiration?

This is a tough question. My parents are a source of inspiration since they have always been there for me, supported me, and are great role models.

My high school math teacher Mr. Siegert was also a great role model to me, and every day I hope that I can be as good of a math teacher as he was for me.

My colleagues inspire me every day with their passion and dedication to educating our future and their willingness to go above and beyond for each and every student.

Teri with her friends and a soccer game

What are your plans once you leave ISKL?

Next year, my husband Nate and I will leave our jobs and travel the world together for a year. We will have our backpacks on our backs and see where we end up. First stop….Kazakhstan!

What does ‘”Know yourself, care for all and create a better world”‘ mean to you?

I like the order of this statement because to be successful and to be able to care for anyone else, you first need to know and care for yourself. Self-reflection is a very underrated skill, yet it is one of the most important things you can do. “Care for all” reminds me of a quote my mom used to say to me growing up. She would say, “No matter what people say or do to you, you must always kill them with kindness.” If we look after each other, the world will be a better place.


Do you know of any student, teacher, parent, or staff who always have an anecdote to tell, love to share some insights into their passions and interest, or simply is a Panther through and through? Nominate them to be featured in our Panthers of ISKL stories by sending in your submissions here.

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