GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Thirty-three men and women received their alternative certificates for teaching in Guilford County Thursday afternoon.
They spent the last fifteen months in the GCS Alternative Certification Track program. They were PhD students or working in professional jobs not necesarily related to teaching. While most didn't go to school specifically for education, many have always had the itch to teach.
Brittany Smith was a DNA lab technician and later, a stay-at-home mom. She decided teaching would be a great opportunity to share her career experience.
"I do feel like I've got an edge. We do have the real-world experience and we are able to bring that into the classroom. With science I can show my students, for instance, labs because I've done them before."
Executive Director of Talent Development for GCS, Amy Holcombe, said the certification program at the local level is one-of-a-kind in North Carolina. "We have a locally customized teacher preparation program so instead of just learning about literacy, they learn about the way we teach literacy in Guilford County Schools." The training is catered to what works for local students, she explained, making their teachers very successful.
While taking classes for the certificate, the students are also working their first year as teachers in GCS classrooms. They're learning and working simultaneously, Holcombe said.
Their lack of teaching experience may be a challenge at first, but 12 ACT teachers were named "Rookie of the Year" in their schools last school year.
Smith pointed out, "We know teachers don't make the money so there's gotta be some other reason they're in it. I'm in it for the kids!"
Desiree Acevdo's young daughter and family were at the graduation to cheer her on. After twenty years as a nurse, mostly in operating rooms, she's now teaching health sciences at Dudley High.
"Financially it's different," she explained. "But it's well worth it because even though your salary is not what you're used to make before, there's more time for you to spend [at home], less time on baby sitters, that stuff. It kinda equals out at the end."
Both women are taking on hard-to-fill STEM positions, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
ACT has graduated 176 teachers to date.
For more information on this lateral-entry program, visit http://www1.gcsnc.com/gcsact/index.htm