GREENSBORO, N.C. -- More than one-third of job openings in Guilford County Schools are for STEM positions, those related to science, technology, engineering and math.
Superintendent Mo Green and Guilford County teachers and principals spoke at the Transition to Teaching Conference Friday to encourage fifty candidates to pursue careers in teaching.
"It is difficult, I would say across this country, to fill these positions with highly qualified individuals," said Green.
The candidates they addressed at the conference were not education majors. Most were college seniors preparing to graduate with degrees in science and math. Others were professionals hoping to transition to a new career in teaching.
Amber Andrews is graduating from Bennett College in May with a degree in biology.
"I love biology. And I was fighting the teacher inside of me to teach. But it came around, and I said, ‘If I love it, I need to do it!’" Andrews insisted.
She's planning to apply for the GCS Alternative Certification track and hopefully teach in the county next school year.
GCS ACT is a 12-month program for lateral-entry candidates to earn a teaching degree while getting experience in the classroom.
"If they are selected and sign on with Guilford County to be a teacher, they’ll spend the summer with us, learning how to teach, learning how to build relationships with our parents and our schools," explained Dr. Amy Holcombe, executive director of Talent Development with GCS.
She pointed out, "It does take a special person to be a teacher. Just because you meet the qualifications doesn’t mean you’re going to be a good teacher."
But they hand-picked candidates based on GPA and personality, hoping to convince them of the benefits of a career in education.
The potential teachers know the pay is not high and are aware of budget cuts making constant headlines.
But Andrews believes it's worth it. "Teaching allows you to impact the generation to come... I’m helping some other students get their lab coats in a general sense! I’m not giving up anything. I’m gaining more than I ever could have asked for."