The A, B, C’s of Transferring your Career to Israel
How this Home-school Writing Teacher has made it work!
Name: Eva Goldstein-Meola
Originally from: Miami Beach, Florida
Made Aliyah: July, 2015
Lives in: Neve Daniel
Job: Virtual Writing Teacher at IEW Writing Teacher
It’s nine-o-clock in the evening, and Eva is hard at work in her office in Neve Daniel. She sits in front of her computer- video camera, discussing concepts such as alliteration, personification, metaphors, and similes. Her students, located across the globe, have tuned in for their weekly writing lesson. In Eva’s virtual classroom, they listen – participate – and of course, turn in their homework!
Eva’s business was born when her home-schooled daughter Shayna (now a sophomore studying Aerospace Engineering at the University of Miami, while working for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center) requested friends with whom to share her stories. Shayna was always a writer, even at a very young age. She read her written stories to her stuffed animals, who all sat around her at the dining room table, “listening” to her. Eva decided to indulge Shayna’s request, and gathered her friends for informal writing classes so they could share their stories. This writing teacher soon found her niche with the homeschooled-children community, teaching students in both face-to-face and virtual classes, as well as private sessions and writing lessons.
Recently remarried, Eva and her husband Jonathan Meola decided to pick up their lives, and make Aliyah. The best part is… her business made Aliyah with her! With a few tweaks, and some out-of-the-box thinking, Eva is continuing her writing teacher business as if she never left!
I spoke to Eva to get the scoop on how she successfully transferred her business – almost completely intact – from the United States to Israel… American salary and all!
What did you do before moving to Israel?
Before the birth of my daughter, I was a public school classroom teacher as well as a reading and writing specialist. Homeschooling naturally fell into place with my daughter. I started my business by running face-to-face “classroom” classes with the kids with whom my daughter had connected – later on, I continued with virtual writing classes, as well as with private tutoring. At the beginning, my classes were geared for home-schooled children. However, my population has grown to include students who attend traditional schools – the US education schooling system does not do as good a job as it should when it comes to teaching students how to write well.
How did you find your job?
My daughter Shayna was always ahead of the curve. She was just one of those kids. Academics came easily for her, and she was passionate about learning. This is truly the best combination. When it was time for her to enter public school, the principal wanted to put her into second grade, because she could read chapter books with ease and knew multiplication and beginning division. Developmentally, I knew this wasn’t appropriate. I figured, I would homeschool for a year, and she would then enter first grade with her peers. I just figured the educational gap would close; however, I realized that wasn’t the case. Shayna learned at a rapid pace and passionately read everything she could get her hands on. I guess the rest is history.
As an only child, at the tender of age of seven she asked me to gather a group of friends together to read stories. I guess she outgrew her stuffed animals. Actually, she told me “I know you are really a teacher, and you are doing a disservice to my educational well-being by not teaching me how to write…” and that I needed to take her request seriously.
To appease her, I decided to put together a small writing group made up of a few of her friends. Parents loved my techniques, and then asked me to teach their older siblings as well. My popularity grew and my business took off – all strictly via word of mouth! Now, I am on my thirteenth year teaching homeschoolers.
Until this past year, half my classes were given face-to-face with local homeschoolers from the metropolitan Washington DC area. The rest were given virtually, as I had students from all around the world. Many of my homeschooled students come from families who are affiliated with the military and/or government. As they moved around the world, they requested I teach virtual classes, so that I could continue as their primary writing instructor.
What do you do now?
Now that we have made Aliyah, my classes have become completely virtual. In the transition, I lost some students, but gained other new students. Basically, it all evened out. I am now teaching around 200 students. I teach 90 minute virtual classes online using a virtual classroom hosted by WizIQ. Students can see me, hear me speak, watch a Power Point Presentation as I instruct, use a wipe off board, and interact with me in real-time via a chat log.
I instruct both on “using structure” and “using style” in their writing. Students are between grades 3 and 12, who take 1 of 5 different class levels offered. This allows my students to stay with me for years. I began with the one class for Shayna’s age at the time (7 years old), and now the four additional class levels I offer allow my students to grow with me. All of this was driven by requests from parents. If you asked me twelve years ago about teaching high-school level classes, I would have given you a funny look, to say the least!
Teaching across these levels allows the students to grow with me as their teacher. Consistency is the key; they know what to expect, and I know their level. This way, my students can obtain their optimal level of growth. All classes are meant to be repeated, with different lesson plans. Lessons include concepts such as: structuring paragraphs, book reports, creative writing, simple non fiction reports, various formats of five paragraph essays, full research papers, term papers, timed essay writing (SAT, ACT and AP exams) and how to write college application essays. In addition, I try to help my students find a style of writing and use certain techniques to help them find their voice.
Although I only spend about 20 hours a week in the classroom, I spend an additional 20 – 40 hours a week planning lessons and evaluating my student’s work.
What do you love most about your job?
These kids are truly like my family. Students stay with me for a number of years. Then, their siblings join my classes. Therefore, even though I only have 1 child, I truly have 201 children! I love watching them grow and develop into mature adults and fabulous writers. My students were so excited about us coming to Israel, and many are following our journeys via our blog and Facebook pages.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
There are never enough hours in the day – I always feel at least one step behind!
I am totally engaged in my students’ lives, providing them feedback on application essays for camp, internships, scholarships or college…. and this is in addition to homework for me. I feel that I am constantly treading water to get all of my work done; however, I would not change any of it for a moment – it’s a part of my personality. These students are a huge part of my life.
How important is Hebrew to the field?
Hebrew is completely unnecessary. Presently, I do not speak very much Hebrew. I am at an Aleph level. What is great about my career is that I could stay in Ulpan as long as needed (if I want to), because I work evening hours here in Israel.
Is there good earning potential in this market?
It’s a very solid business, and I can charge American rates, in dollars.
What advice would you give for somebody looking to transfer his or her business from overseas to Israel?
Think outside the box. In the United States, the mindset is, “This is how it’s done!” In Israel, there is so much more room for creativity. Know that there is a way to keep your American salary – you just have to totally think outside the box. I, for example, decided that I didn’t need to teach in a classroom!
How do you feel about living in Israel?
Amazing! We love Neve Daniel, and so far, our klita has been smooth. This has been a twenty-five year dream for my husband. When we came on our honeymoon in 2012, it was the first time I had been here in twenty-eight years! When the customs officer asked for the purpose of our trip, I said “Honeymoon…” My husband responded, “Pilot trip!” I was totally shocked! But, sooner rather than later, his dream soon became our dream, and we couldn’t be happier!