"Try Teaching" Program Seeks Mid- and Second-Career Professionals

Eastern Kentucky University’s “Try Teaching” program, now in its eighth year, is again accepting applications from mid- and second-career professionals who are intrigued about their potential in front of a classroom.

The nationally innovative program is geared to those who have doubts about leaving their current job behind to return to college for a second degree. It allows participants to gauge their comfort level as a classroom teacher before making a life-changing career move.

The program, funded by a $175,000 grant from Ashland Inc., has attracted 51 participants in its first seven years. Each spent one or two weeks in a K-12 classroom, gaining first-hand experience as they assisted in the preparation and execution of lesson plans while learning successful educational practices from their teaching mentors.

Several from previous years have decided to enter EKU’s Master’s in Teaching Program, which prepares and certifies individuals who hold non-teaching baccalaureate degrees, according to Dr. Cynthia Resor, coordinator of the MAT program and director of the “Try Teaching” program.

David Webster, who participated in the program in 2012, said he had aspired to become a teacher for many years.

“After a long successful business career, the time came for me to decide whether to jump out of the plane and start a completely new career,” Webster said. “Converting a dream to reality sounds good but leaving a secure job and taking on the commitment to retool for the teaching profession created some anxious moments. The Try Teaching program was the perfect opportunity for a reality check.  It allowed me to experience a day in the life of a school teacher and have some interaction with students in a classroom setting. Try Teaching gave me the first-hand experience and insight to make an informed decision to take the jump. The rip cord worked and the parachute did open. I look forward landing in the profession of teaching.”

Another 2012 participant, Laurel Ward, said Try Teaching is “an amazing program for professionals who are thinking of making a career change. I had been in the business world for almost ten years, ever since I graduated college. I started feeling that I needed a change in my life but wasn't sure if teaching was really the answer. I hadn't been in the public school system since I was a student. Try Teaching allowed me to observe and discuss the teaching profession with some wonderful teachers in my area. They not only welcomed me into their classrooms to observe but to participate as well.  After my Try Teaching experience I had confidence that education was the career change I was looking for. I don't think I would've have been able to make that decision without the Try Teaching experience.”

Participants have the option of one- or two-week placements in middle and high schools throughout central and southeastern Kentucky, as close to home as possible.

In addition to classroom time with their mentoring teacher, “Try Teaching” participants will spend time with a university-level educator to learn more about certification procedures, the teaching profession and career benefits.

EKU officials hope the program will help those interested in making a career change to teaching.

“We need to be looking at alternate avenues for drawing qualified men and women from various backgrounds into the teaching field,” Resor said.

EKU College of Education faculty and school district administrators work together to identify outstanding K-12 educators who will host participants in their classrooms. The host teachers will then be trained in effective mentoring techniques.

A preliminary screening will pre-qualify participants and reduce the risk that a participant would be ineligible for the MAT program. Those interested in the “Try Teaching” program will be asked to assemble educational transcripts, a professional resume and letters of recommendation, and will be interviewed to assess their overall disposition to teach. Also, before introducing anyone into a classroom setting, EKU will complete stringent state and federal background checks on all program candidates.

The application deadline this year is June 30. Because the number of participants is limited, Resor suggested that interested individuals contact her as soon as possible at 859-622-2165 or at cynthia.resor@eku.edu. More information is available at www.tryteaching.eku.edu.

Published on March 19, 2013