My Story


It all started with…

a flyer posted on the walls of  Jimenez Hall at the University of Maryland College Park. It was my senior year and like many future graduates, I had no clue what was next. The flyer advertised a program that brought native English speakers to South Korea to teach English.

"Wow, if only moving to Korea was in the plan," I thought to myself.

A few months later I was on a one-way flight to Korea, wondering if I was adventurous, crazy or a mix of the two.

I spent my first year in South Korea living on a small island called Ganghwa. I was a TalK program scholar teaching English in rural South Korea. Life was incredibly different than my life in Maryland, I was new to teaching, Korean culture, didn't know the language and I stuck out like a sore thumb! 

(Not too many Afro puffs in Korea, hehe.)

That year taught me a lot.

I grew so much from the challenges faced in and out of the classroom. As difficult some days could be, I was still falling fast and hard for Korea. When I finished my contract, I decided to move to Seoul to get a taste of the city life.

I landed a sweet job at an English village in Seoul. I loved teaching in the camp setting, it was full of fun and excitement and I got really close with my co-workers.

It was that year that I decided to get my groove back ;). I stopped taking dance classes years before but, with the encouragement of a friend, Tonya was back in the dance studio!

I started training in KPOP and Hip Hop at DEF Dance Skool. Two months into my training, I was asked to be the first foreigner to perform in the monthly video. *Squeals!*

A few months after that, the studio manager asked me to teach a weekly Dance English KPOP class for kids. Say whaaattt???? Mee?!?!?

Teaching at the English village pushed me to be a more creative teacher since the camp's focus is full immersion through situational classes (everything from baking class to banking class).

Teaching dance then allowed me to connect to students and improve my teaching methods on a whole new level!

Right after re-signing my 2nd contract at the village, things went sour. The  sponsors of the camp changed and the school became an ugly mess of threats, negative leadership and firing everyone and they mama!

I decided that the camp no longer was an environment I wanted to work in, and left ..DEUCES!

Jobless, soon to be homeless (I lived AT the village) and worn out from all the drama, I decided to work with a recruiter to help me find my next job.

The pressure to get a new job, aka maintain my visa (#expatproblems), with the pressure of a pushy recruiter, led me to my next job at an English community center in Gyeonggido.

While the job was great, I knew the commute (Gyeonggido to Seoul) was waaaay to too much with my intensive dancing commitments in Seoul.

Halfway through the contract I gracefully told my boss that I had to part ways with the company.

It was then that I decided to move back to the States, reflect, and figure out my next steps.

I realized just how incredible the experience of teaching in Korea was, it really made me a better person! The Tonya that returned to Maryland was more cultured, understanding, and a much better communicator.

I also remembered the struggles of finding a job, teaching in the Korean school system, and assimilating to Korean culture.

I realized that aside from recruiters and YouTubers, there is no support system for future teachers moving to Korea.

So, I decided to create Hello Tonya Teacher to fill the gap...

I don’t want you to feel alone during this exhausting application process, I want you to know all your options, get feedback on your essay(s) and lesson plan, learn the best practices for teaching in Korean schools, gain access to resources that took me years to find, and actually prepare for life as a foreigner in Korea.

My program, Teach Live & Thrive in Korea, gives you, future English teacher, access to me- a mentor, coach, and friend.

Knowing that my wins, struggles and lessons-learned help women like YOU achieve their K-dreams, makes me so happy :).

From one language-culture-education-travel-lover to another,