Press Release, March 8, 2002 SUBJECT(S): Education, Jobs, Northeastern NC Public Schools, ECU CONTACT: Lori Britt, public relations (919) 602.7147 or (919) 471.5345, firstname.lastname@example.org Dorothy Mebane, PhD, Director, NC TEACH Center for School Leadership Development (919) 962-4562 / (866) 998-3233 (toll free) THE JOURNEY FROM CAREER TO CLASSROOM A ten-year veteran paramedic, Lysa Kosak, went back to school in 1997 and earned a BS in Biology from ECU with the hopes of pursuing a career as a doctor. But one year of medical school made her re-assess what she really wanted. "While studying, I realized I had attained my goal, but my heart was not in my studies. My peers were competitive and uncaring. I took a leave of absence to consider my future options," says Kosak. With the encouragement of mentors, family and friends, she decided to look into teaching and became a substitute teacher for Pitt County Schools in the fall of 1999. "Those experiences allowed me to experiment with different grade levels and subjects. My science background and personality seemed best suited to the high school environment. I felt like I had 'come home.'" She knew she wanted to teach, but needed to gain her teaching license. "At my age and level of responsibility a traditional program would have been a financial disaster. NC TEACH allowed me to earn income by teaching and learn simultaneously." Plus, Kosak liked being able to earn graduate credits through NC TEACH. NC TEACH is a innovative statewide program which recruits, trains and licenses mid- career professionals for a career in the classroom. Now in its third year, NC TEACHers already at work in schools across the state say the program is the best and fastest way to get certified as a lateral entry teacher. In northeastern North Carolina, the program is offered at East Carolina University. "This program has provided northeastern North Carolina with many outstanding teachers and I know there is still an incredible pool of talent to be utilized. It is crucial that programs such as NC TEACH continue to grow to address our teacher shortage and provide our students with the best our schools can offer," says Lieutenant Governor Beverly Perdue. Through NC TEACH, college graduates of all backgrounds - law, medicine, engineering, mathematics, science, social work, language arts, etc. - can gain licensure in K-12 Special Populations; Spanish and French; Middle Grades (6-9) Math, Science, Social Studies and Language Arts; and Secondary (9-12) Math, Science, Social Studies and English. Kosak now teaches physical science and chemistry to 9th-12th-grade students at North Pitt High School in Bethel. "High school students are very interested in their bodies. Because of my medic experiences I can often apply concepts to the form and function of the human body. Those experiences also give me a comfort level in communicating with a broad variety of individuals, culturally and socio-economically." Since gaining licensure through NC TEACH, Kosak has earned ECU's new Master's in the Art of Teaching degree. " I hope to continue teaching. I am currently in my first Doctoral level class. My ultimate goal is to teach others how to teach science effectively." "High-quality lateral entry programs are filling a vital need for our state," says Mike Ward, State Superintendent for North Carolina. "NC TEACH targets people who have made gains in their careers and who are now choosing to put their knowledge and experiences to work for our public school students. The program is truly a wonderful collaboration of our state's public and private universities working together to train these professionals for successful teaching careers in North Carolina." Kim Garner didn't take a direct route into the classroom either. But it is just those detours that have given her valuable experiences that help her succeed in the classroom. This 39-year-old mother of three had 11 years experience as a substitute, bus driver and teacher assistant, and always wanted to teach. She thought she was too old and lacked the confidence to go back to school. However, her love of children and passion for a career in teaching prevailed, and she explored what options she had to gain her teaching license. "I wanted to get my certification as soon as possible. I knew it would take away from my teaching if I went to school at night. I called ECU about the lateral entry programs they offered, and they told me that they thought NC TEACH might be better for me." Candidates for this lateral entry program must hold a bachelor's degree and have at least three year's full-time successful work experience. She held a BA in Psychology/Human Services and wanted to put her training and experience together to work with special needs children. Because of her strong psychological and human services academic background and experience, NC TEACH helped her earn her K-12 Special Education certification, while working, in about 12 months. "During that year, we were observed by ECU professors and had access to a mentor lead teacher at all times. My lead teacher was Martha Gore, a wonderful teacher and mentor. ECU was a great site, and they were always willing to help." Garner loves teaching reading, writing and math skills to special needs children at Boone Trail Elementary School in Cameron. "I think sometimes my students are there to teach me how to live and love. There is nothing else in this world that I would rather do. Special Education is truly a remarkable field filled with wonderful little people that have ideas and goals. They just need someone to listen and help," says Garner. "I found out one is never too old or disabled to learn. I plan to stay in the classroom as long as possible." "As Lt. Governor, one of my priorities has been to continue building a first-class public education system, a cornerstone of which is exceptional teachers. Through lateral entry programs such as NC TEACH, we are identifying highly-skilled professionals who can make significant contributions in our state's classrooms," continues Perdue. "With the excellent pre-service training offered by NC TEACH in collaboration with the state's public and private universities, these professionals know the real expectations of the classroom and how to share their knowledge and career experience to benefit our children." The pre-service training Perdue refers to is an intensive, five-week summer institute where candidates learn essential skills for beginning teachers -- how schools are run, ways diverse children learn, classroom management, the role of technology, and student assessment. With realistic expectations, candidates are more likely to survive the crucial first year, evidenced by NC TEACH's impressive 80% retention rate. NC TEACHers continue to take courses and seminars during their first year of teaching and can gain full licensure after a minimum of 12 months. "NC TEACH provides high quality, compressed, practical training for those who desire to enter the exciting, challenging teaching profession, says Phillip J. Kirk, Jr., chair of the State Board of Education. "I highly recommend it." In addition to the ECU host site, classes for the 2002-2003 NC TEACH Program are also offered at Fayetteville State University/UNC Pembroke; UNC Wilmington; NC Central University; UNC at Chapel Hill; UNC Greensboro; UNC Charlotte; Lenoir-Rhyne College; and Western Carolina University/UNC Asheville. The application deadline for 2002-2003 is April 15. To apply for NC TEACH, applicants must hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and have at least three years of full-time successful work experience since graduation from college. The organization's web site http://ncteach.ga.unc.edu, provides all the details about the program and the application process. In addition, candidates may call toll-free, 1-866-998-3233, for more information and a copy of the 2002-2003 Application Booklet.
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