PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - According to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, in 2014, our state will have about 3,000 job openings in the education field. The Pascagoula School District is offering a new program to help fill that need. This year, the district opened its Teacher Academy at the Applied Technology Center.
On Wednesday, one young lady looked out of place in a class full of first graders. Anna Dobrowski is a sophomore at Pascagoula High School. She was spending some time at Eastlawn Elementary School to learn what it's like to be a teacher.
When asked how she felt on her first day of teaching, Anna replied, "I was so nervous. But all the kids, they came up to me and hugging me and so they made me feel welcome in the classroom."
Anna is among 35 Pascagoula High and Gautier High students who are enrolled in the new Teacher Academy in the Pascagoula School District. Every Wednesday, they visit various schools to get on-the-job training.
"They are actually working as assistant teachers, and they are assisting teachers with small groups. They help the children with reading, any preparation of materials that the teachers need," said instructor Erika Reynolds.
"The curriculum is very stringent," she added. "Every education course that I had in college, they are getting a taste of this year."
The students get to explore the joys and challenges of the teaching profession now, instead of waiting until college.
"I'm definitely considering it more," said Gautier High senior Michaela Lee. "I always had a love for teaching. I thought that was something I wanted to do growing up, so I think I will look into it further and pursue it as an occupation."
"Now I kind of don't want to leave them. I want to stay with them. I like it a lot, so l think it does help," said Dobrowski.
In a way, the school district is growing its own teachers.
"I want them to come back to Pascagoula. I'm a product of the Pascagoula School system myself and I think probably the crown for me would be for one of them to come back and be a teacher in our district," said Reynolds.
To get into the program, students have to meet academic and attendance requirements. Next year, the district will offer "Teacher Academy II". Students who complete the program with a "B" average and pass the exit exam can earn one course credit at some community colleges in Mississippi.
Several students in the program are also interested in careers in the daycare industry, child psychology, and pediatric nursing.