A coffee with John Patton

Today, we want to introduce you to John Patton. John has several roles at StGIS: He is IB Diploma Programme Coordinator, Careers and Higher Education Advisor as well as Teacher of Biology and Activities Leader. Being originally from Wyoming (United States) where he used to teach in public schools, he now lives and teaches in St. Gilgen for almost ten years. Moreover, John gives presentations at educational conferences. Currently, he is working on his doctorate at the University of Bath (UK).

John, how do you approach the career and higher education consultations with your students?
I follow a student-led approach. I believe that there are a lot of pathways students can choose, and I aim to help narrow the options down according to their individual interests and strengths. To start this process, I use the online platform Unifrog which allows students to create interest profiles and do strengths as well as personality tests. Consequently, the platform suggests possible career options that serve as a basis for exploration. Then, I invite the students to one-to-one consultations where I ask them: What brings you joy? In what areas do you show strength and how do you know? I want the students to identify their passions and purpose. My style is listening without judgements, avoiding direct suggestions, and questioning as opposed to telling.

What are the challenges but also opportunities for students with respect to that approach?
Self-exploration is hard and sometimes even scary. I want to equip the students with the right tools to empower them to discover what they really want. By following their own passion instead of a path others see for them, I believe that the students can have a happier life.

You are living in St. Gilgen for quite a long time. What attracts you to this place?
There are two things that attract me: First, it is the physical environment and how I can interact with it. I love doing outdoor sports in any season and the region is a giant playground for me. Second, I like the professional opportunity to be in a school that values growth of individual students.

Do you have a life motto?
“Be curious, not judgmental.” – Walt Whitman

What is your favorite place at StGIS and why?
The class rooms! I love getting kids excited about new things and helping them discover the connections between a wide range of subjects.

What makes StGIS special for you?
The focus on the individual coupled with an open-minded, creative system that allows to agilely adjust to everyone that is part of it.

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