"Try Teaching" Program Targets Mid- and Second-Career Professionals Interested in New Career

After five successful years, Eastern Kentucky University’s “Try Teaching” program 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 43 participants in its first five 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.

Ruth Barker, a businesswoman from Richmond who tried teaching last year at Clark-Moores Middle School, said she “developed a new awareness of the unselfish commitment that teachers have for children in their classroom. I enjoyed the interaction with the children and was able to learn hands-on skills from experienced professionals. I highly recommend this program to anyone interested in pursuing a career in teaching.”

Jason Ashburn, a Navy veteran from Lexington, was placed at Henry Clay High School. “‘Try Teaching’ was the perfect opportunity for me,” he said. “(It) provided me the critical classroom experience I needed to pursue my new profession. The classroom opportunities from the program confirmed my passion for teaching kids and allowed me to network with other teachers and principals.”

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. “Teaching jobs are available in all subjects and grade levels, but there is a real shortage of math, science and foreign language teachers.”

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 02, 2011