Return home

Port Leyden News: Port Leyden’s Overseas Teachers - Part I

Paul Wilson, Boonville Herald columnist
Posted 6/24/22

There are at least two teachers from Port Leyden that have had the unique experience of teaching in countries other than our own.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Port Leyden News: Port Leyden’s Overseas Teachers - Part I


There are at least two teachers from Port Leyden that have had the unique experience of teaching in countries other than our own. For today, I will start with my wife, Louise (Wason) Wilson.

Some years ago, Louise was teaching in Woodstock, Virginia. The day of her first faculty meeting, in August of 1991, a telephone call came offering her a position teaching Early Childhood in the U.S. Department of Defense Dependent Schools.

Our Department of Defense has a school system for children of military personnel stationed in foreign countries. This system has the same curriculum, and uses the same textbooks that are used here. This enables the children to come home and continue on at the same grade level.

Louise had to accept or reject the offer within a day, and, if accepted, she had 10 days in which to be ready to leave home for Germany. The Shenandoah County School Board members considered this an opportunity for Louise that would be too attractive to pass up. They were very supportive, and they released her from her contract. We immediately began making preparations for a big change in our lives. We were ready to leave well before the required 10 days, although the government took a few days longer in implementing all of this. Nonetheless, well before the end of September, the movers had come and packed and shipped our household goods. We were soon to follow, and we landed at Hamburg, Germany, later that month.

The Department of Defense schools are very similar to those of South Lewis Central and Adirondack Central schools, with course offerings being very much the same. There are activities, such as band, football, basketball, high school paper, yearbook. Indeed, if you were to visit the school premises, say in Japan, Korea, Bahrain, England or other overseas locations, you would feel very much as if you were in the United States. The only language spoken in the schools is English, with the exception of foreign language courses, which are taught exactly as they are here in America.

In most cases, the children’s parents are military, most often career military, Department of Defense civilians, or contractors with the military. The families lead quite a normal life, not much different than that of yourselves. Although military people often transfer to different bases, called a permanent change of station, being in the same school system gives a continuity for the children. Children of military families often enjoy educational advantages not to be had by their civilian counterparts, which I may address in a future article.

Most often military families live in government housing on overseas bases, with some exceptions, in which families live directly in the foreign communities. Living off the base is called ‘living on the economy.’ Teachers usually live ‘on the economy,’ and this was true in our case for the 10 years that Louise taught in Germany.

My next article may be on a different subject, but I do intend to continue on with this subject in the not too distant future. So, I will leave you for now, in the hopes that you will have a great week.

Email Paul Wilson at:


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here