Ben Haase, a 2004 graduate of Albertville High School, who has spent the last two years teaching abroad, will now make his way home and teach Environmental Science and Human Anatomy & Physiology for 10th - 12th grades at Arab High School.
Haase graduated from Jacksonville State University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with a concentration in general science and from the University of Montevallo in 2016 with a master’s degree in secondary education with a concentration in general science.
His first teaching job was at Thompson High School in Alabaster. He taught there from 2013 until 2018.
During his time there, he taught physical science, general chemistry, Pre-AP chemistry and advanced placement (AP) chemistry. He tutored for a program called academics first, a morning tutoring program for students in need of academic support, conducted a guitar clinic for students of all skill levels, and co-founded and coached the school’s first archery team.
"When my wife, Rachel, and I were dating in college, I expressed an interest in teaching overseas ever since I was accepted into the teacher education program at JSU. After 5 years of teaching, we decided that it was time to pursue that dream," Haase recalled. "We started looking at international hiring websites in the fall of 2017. After receiving offers from schools in 7 different countries, we chose to spend the next two years in Albania, which is a small country in eastern Europe that is right across from the boot of Italy and is directly north of Greece. The school is located in the charming and historic port city of Durrës, which sits on the banks of the Adriatic Sea."
Haase signed a 2-year contract with Albanian College Durres and moved there in 2018.
His mother-in-law said he could take his wife out of the country for two years and not a day longer.
Within a year and a half, Haase and his wife traveled to 18 different countries including Albania, Greece, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Croatia, Austria, Czech Republic (Prague), Hungary, Poland, Netherlands, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
"I held up my end of the deal with my mother-in-law," he laughed. "During my time overseas, I taught general science to 7th grade, chemistry to 9th and 10th graders, and diploma program (DP) Chemistry for juniors and seniors. I sponsored a guitar clinic and helped my wife and another teacher with the cooking club as after school activities."
Haase said they would have traveled to three more countries during spring break of 2020, but we were unable to fly due to travel restrictions related to the Coronavirus outbreak. They were able to secure a charter flight through the American Embassy which brought them back to the United States on June 3rd.
He said as much as they loved to travel through Europe and experience all the iconic locations most only see in movies, he knew it was time to come home.
"We missed our family and friends, and it was time to get back to Alabama. We missed authentic Mexican food, good raw oysters, and American take-out pizza," he said.
Haase said there were so many things he learned in his years abroad but some of the most interesting?
“Italian” dressing and seasoning are American inventions. Most people don’t own dryers, so clothes are often seen hanging from balconies or on drying racks, ours included," he continued. "Life runs on a much slower pace than here. Servers don’t bring you a bill when you’ve finished your meal. They want you to stay, sit, and enjoy the experience. Many stores close shortly after lunch and don’t reopen until late afternoon."
Food was also quiet different.
"A loaf of bread from the bakery, you don’t buy bread in a grocery store, cost around 50 cents. Farm fresh eggs sit on your counter for a month or more, no refrigeration required, and cost around $1/dozen. Fruit like pomegranates, figs, blackberries, mulberries, grapes, and oranges grow on the side of the road and could often be reached from the sidewalk or street. Most foods are preservative-free, and often came directly from local farms. Olive oil and honey were sold in stores in repurposed water bottles and jars – that’s when you knew it was the good stuff! There is also no such thing as a wrong time for a coffee."