Teachers Appreciate First Lady's Initiative

Laura Bush promises to do her part to promote her husband as the "Education President".

The First Lady is busy pushing a program to recruit teachers. She's encouraging young people to consider a career in the classroom and is courting members of the military to transition into education after their service.

Teachers we talked with at Biloxi's Michel Junior High appreciate the effort.

"Even as a child, I used to have classes in the garage and invite the neighborhood kids to come fill my classroom on Saturdays," said 8th grade techer, Ann Shirley.

Eager 8th graders now fill Shirley's science class. Her early attraction to education was handed down by her mom, who was also a teacher. She's thankful for the First Lady's initiative.

"I think it's wonderful she's doing that. I'm glad that we have someone who's been in our shoes who's looking for prospective teachers. And I think that's one way to try and lure people into our occupation."

Sondra Caillavet has been teaching in the Biloxi school district for nearly 30 years. She was recently appointed to the State Board of Education and is already involved in similar efforts to recruit teachers.

"I know the same thing is going on within the state. We have many programs. Our critical shortage scholarships, the act for that. Mississippi "troops as teachers". There are a lot of incentives right now within the state," said Caillavet.

Dan Wasilenko enjoys teaching social studies.

We found him talking to a class of 8th graders about the early French settlers.

"Again, the whole purpose of the colonies was to do what? Profit. Profit for the king. That's what it all revolved around."

Wasilenko's motivation for teaching revolves around the ongoing rewards that come with helping mold young minds.

"When you see a kid in the seventh grade, and then you see him out in the community and you know that you had a part in that. That makes you feel good. That's the paycheck there."

It's the kind of career satisfaction greater numbers will experience if the First Lady's initiative is a success.