Zgraggen teaches HS math in the Swiss Alps
Franziska Zgraggen ’04 teaches high school math at the Gstaad International School in the Swiss Alps after majoring in math, secondary education, and German at Cornell. As an undergrad, she spent a semester studying in Basel, Switzerland.
What is it like working in Switzerland?
Teaching and living in Switzerland is great. I started my teaching career in Colombia, South America, also teaching high school math in an international school. I really enjoyed that experience, but I wanted to be closer to my family (my father was born and raised in Switzerland and I have a large family here), so I came to Switzerland. I live in a small town in the mountains. It is great for walking and hiking in the summer and sledding and skiing in the winter, not to mention it being really beautiful. It is a beautiful little country with lots of different and very interesting places to visit.
Any future plans/goals?
I finished my Masters Degree through the University of Wisconsin-Stout, which was a goal that I wanted to reach for myself. I have an administrative position at school and enjoy the added responsibility and tasks, although I am very happy in the classroom and can’t see myself ever leaving the classroom completely. I have yet to decide if I want to work towards a PhD, but I continue learning about the International Baccalaureate Program, as the International School Rheintal has all three programs, PYP, MYP and DP.
Why did you choose to study in Switzerland as an undergrad?
When I started at Cornell, I knew that I wanted to study abroad and because I have Swiss citizenship and friends and family in Switzerland, I chose a school there. I worked for a friend the summer before starting school to use my German more and to get to know the culture and the people even better. Studying in Basel was great! My professors were very helpful, and learning in a different country and culture gives you different views of the issues and the world. Studying in Basel only helped solidify my career plans. I knew that I wanted to teach high school math and I also knew that I wanted to teach in an international school; studying in Basel only made me want to live and teach in Switzerland more.
What was best about studying at Cornell?
I chose to study at Cornell because of One Course At A Time. It intrigued me as a high school student, and as a college student I found it to be an interesting way to learn. My math major was the most difficult area of study for me at Cornell, but I learned so much from all of my professors, and I think that I had the opportunity to get to know them and my classmates better by having only one class at a time.
I was able to have three major areas of study, study for a semester in Switzerland, and do it all in four years. Each month I was able to devote my time and studies to one subject , and when I was student teaching, I had three blocks to devote to learning how to use what I had learned at Cornell in the classroom.