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Perham high school principal moving to Saudi Arabia

Perham High School Principal John Rutten and his wife Cheryl are leaving Perham and heading to Saudi Arabia this fall.

"I think it will be really challenging and rewarding," John Rutten said.

John will be an administrator in International Schools Group, Al Dammam High School, which has about 1,200 students. The private school is right on the Persian Gulf near Bahrain. Students are about 10 percent Saudi, 10 percent American and 80 percent Egyptian, Indian or Pakistani.

Cheryl will be teaching health and physical education in a British school with about 400 students.

The schools have similar schedules to American schools, John said, and similar curriculums. The students also play similar sports like basketball and baseball.

The Ruttens are no strangers to world travel. John started his career in education in El Salvador in 1982. The following year he met his wife Cheryl and they taught in Bolivia for two years and in Pakistan for four years.

Two of their three children were born outside the United States.

Their oldest was born in Bolivia and the youngest in Pakistan. Their middle child was born in Wisconsin.

"Since that time we've been toying with the idea of going back overseas," John said. "And so this year we decided to test the waters by putting in our resumes, and before we knew it, we Skyped with a school interested in us in Saudi Arabia."

While it isn't set in stone, the Ruttens expect to be in Saudi Arabia the first part of August. Their contract is for two years, with an option to stay longer.

John said his school consists of mostly Advanced Placement students that want to pursue undergraduate studies in the United States.

"All of the students push hard in academics," he said. "They want an American high school diploma to apply to stateside universities or British schools. Virtually all of them want to get to the states."

While it isn't known when the Ruttens will return to Minnesota, or who will fill their positions yet, they say they are raring to go.

"We think we know what we're getting into," John said. "An exciting adventure."

While abroad, the Ruttens plan to travel and visit friends in Madrid, Georgia, Pakistan and around Europe.