Hello – Garrett Armstrong

Hello everybody!

Garrett at Gogolfest, Kyiv, Ukraine

Me at Gogolfest, Kyiv, Ukraine


My girlfriend Ana and I at the end of the Overlook / Mt. Healy trail in Denali Nat’l Park.
A little about me: was born and raised in Fairbanks, studied History and English at Carroll College in Montana, and the really interesting bits start in 2010, when I set off for Ukraine with the Peace Corps.
I spent almost 2 years in Ukraine as a TEFL volunteer teacher. While there, I was assigned to a small farming village in north-central Ukraine called Bilovody. I co-taught with the school’s English teachers in every class, from 1st Form to 11th. My favorites were the 11th form classes, who were generally eager to learn English in preparation for university. Even the “back of class kids” were interested in learning English so that they could play Uno or understand the dialog in their favorite action movies (Sylvester Stallone is still a big deal over there). Before the end of the first semester, I knew all my students by name (not too hard, as I had about 104 students).
After I finished my Peace Corps service, the Maidan protests began in Kyiv, and what was a small student-led protest against the then-president Yanukovych’s sudden decision to disengage from the European Association Agreement and swerve to Russia’s Eurasian Customs Union escalated into a nationwide protest. I thought to myself, “I gotta stick around now, this is a pivotal moment in Ukraine’s history’. So I moved to Kyiv after my service was complete and taught English lessons for I.T. companies around the city while I observed the following events and talked to my Ukrainian friends and students about what would happen next. In the meantime, I learned more Ukrainian and Russian, got to know Ukraine better (and spend lots of time in L’viv, one of my favorite cities on Earth), and enjoy the warmer weather.
In that time, I also studied in Krakow, Poland, for a month with British Council. I earned my CELTA certificate for TEFL there, and also experienced Poland. When not studying for my course there, I enjoyed exploring the storied and beautiful city of Krakow, learned some Polish, and improved myself as an “amateur” teacher. However, I also realized when I returned to Kyiv for work that I wanted formal training as a teacher. I also wanted training in classroom management. On the topic of the article we read last week in class, I have had to manage classes where the students didn’t see the point of learning English and wanted to goof around, play chess, and really do anything but try to study. So
I returned home this April to study for my Master’s in Education, which I am on a year-and-a-half track. I haven’t started my student teaching yet, but am looking forward to it next fall, when I plan on taking PRAXIS II for History, English, and possibly Latin as well.
In my free time, I enjoy cycling on roads, trails, and bogs, riding and maintaining my 41-year-old BMW R60/6 motorcycle (pictured below), reading, studying Ukrainian and Russian, and brushing up on my Latin. Someday I hope to teach high-school History and English classes. Latin would be wonderful too.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you all at class!


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