Virtual English teachers gather at LaGrange College

Published 7:22 pm Monday, January 28, 2019

A special event Saturday at LaGrange College brought together hundreds of online teachers from Georgia and Alabama.

VIPKid is a company that allows individuals to teach English to Chinese students on their own time. Saturday’s event was considered the largest Georgia teacher gathering in the company’s history.

VIPKid teachers have to meet certain requirements, such as a four-year degree and experience with children. Teachers have plenty of flexibility in their schedule, setting up their own appointments for students to register. Due to the 13-hour time difference between Georgia and China, most of the classes are taught between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. ET.  

There are more than 3,500 VIPKid teachers in the state of Georgia, which ranks third in the company overall. According to the corporate sponsor at Saturday’s event, there are around 40 Troup County-based teachers who work for VIPKid. Melissa Miller, who organized Saturday’s event, is a VIPKid teacher who lives in LaGrange.

“I enjoy being able to make a difference around the world from my home office, while still having the opportunity to home school our children and be involved in our community,” Miller said. 

Teachers are not required to have a teaching degree, but must prove they can do the job well. 

“The interview and hiring process is tough, but it’s tough because it has to be,” Miller said. “This is a different teaching environment. They have to teach mock lessons to mentor teachers.”

Saturday’s event was about bringing teachers together. Since the job is online, teachers often become friends through Facebook groups or other online communities but rarely meet face to face.

“With it being an online job, we don’t have coworkers that we see,” said Shannon Mabry, a VIPKid teacher. “So, because of that, our company encourages these kind of events where teachers meet together. It can be very lonely to have a job where you only speak to children and you never see actual adults.”

Teachers came from all over the state of Georgia, including as far away as Savannah, to attend. There were also several teachers from Alabama who made the short drive over the state line.

Dr. Colby Jones, assistant professor of education at LaGrange College, was the keynote speaker for the event. Joseph Miller, the Vice President of Admissions, said the college felt the program met one its global concentrations due to its Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages focus.