Organization says economy creating more interest in teaching

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - An organization that works to reduce teacher shortages says the downturn in the economy seems to have more people interested in going into the classroom. This weekend in Biloxi, the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence hosted seminars for those interested in a career in education.

With Mississippi in a critical teacher shortage, people like Tom Baldwin were eager to learn how they can make a difference in the lives of young people.

"Somewhere around middle school and high school especially, students are just not interested in learning science and mathematics," said Baldwin. "That presents a very difficult problem for us in terms of our economic well-being and in terms of our ability to compete."

The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence runs an online self study program, so people who have a bachelor's degree can do the course work at their own pace.

Program Development Coordinator Kate Stephens said, "We focus on people who are career changers. People who have real life experience that they can bring into the classroom. It's a way for them to get into the classroom without having to stop working or spend a lot of money on college courses. "

Stephens said the Washington, D.C. based non-profit has partnered with several Mississippi school districts. She said more people are starting to show interest in entering the classroom.

"We do see a lot more applications coming in from people who have recently lost their job," Stephens said. "I do hear a lot of people saying things like, 'I always wanted to teach, but it was never the right time. Now I've got the time to do it, and this is the right time for me to pursue this dream.'"

The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence offers scholarships called "Teach and Inspire" to people who want to teach high need subjects like English, Science and Math or who are willing to teach in high poverty areas.

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