Teachers Wanted, No Classroom Experience Necessary

Filed under: In The News, Education: Big Kids, Education: Tweens, Education: Teens

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Would you quit your day job and train with Teach for America? Credit: Rubberball Productions

Teach for America draws career changers.

Sometimes the lessons you don't expect to learn in a classroom have the greatest impact on your life. For Paula Lopez Crespin, that lesson came when she observed her daughter, a teacher in training with Teach for America, leading a class and Crespin decided she wanted to do the same.

"That was the 'wow' moment for me," Crespin told The New York Times. "I was sitting in the back and wanted to wave to her, but she was in a zone, in command. She was the best teacher I had ever seen." Teach for America is a national two-year teacher training program, likened to the Peace Corps, where participants receive real-world training, specifically in urban and rural public schools.

At 50 years old, Crespin admitted to the Times that she was feeling uninspired by her banking career. Although she tried to make the leap to teaching once before, her substitute job led nowhere. Watching her daughter's success with Teach for America inspired Crespin to apply. With her daughter's help, she passed a rigorous application process, beating out "tens of thousands" of applicants, according to the article.

Today, Crespin is among only two percent of Teach for America recruits older than 30, but she's among more than half of all teachers who are career changers, according to the Times. Crespin's life experience and level of commitment make her a prime candidate for success within the program and Teach for America hopes that older recruits like her will help bolster their retention numbers. Currently, 40 percent of recruits do not continue in the profession after their two-year training is complete.

Crespin completed her first year of teaching math and science at Cole Arts and Science Academy in what the Times calls a "gang-riddled" section of Denver. She took a $32,000 pay cut and dipped into hers and her husband's 401(k)'s to accommodate her dream. Crespin works more than 60 hours a week and is working toward a master's degree in pedagogy of urban education. The sacrifices are not for everyone, Crespin admits, but she is happy to be doing something meaningful with her life.

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