Today’s guest blogger is Oakdale HS social studies teacher Ronnie Beard. Principal Donna Clabaugh says, “The policy FCPS has in place to provide support personnel a way to earn their full pay while on sabbatical for the semester they intern as student teachers is of immeasurable value. Student teaching is stressful and takes a lot of time when done right—and simultaneously the intern is taking a course in the evening, yet another process to balance. Not having to work another job and worry about a paycheck is one less stress. Maintaining salary and benefits while an employee strives to become a teacher sends the message to support employees that FCPS encourages and supports their goal. We put our words into action and support our strategic goal to recruit and retain highly qualified employees. I am proud to have been a part of Ronnie reaching his goal—hard work and perseverance pay off!"
I was inspired to become a teacher because I wanted to be a role model who looks like the reflection students see when they look in the mirror. I wanted to be a role model for students who did not have a strong male figure in their lives and to teach them life lessons they could not read in a textbook. I wanted to be the change that helps students become productive citizens in society after leaving our school system.
There were definitely challenges along the way to earning my degree. It was an eight-year process to get to where I am today. Finances were an issue; I needed to determine how I was going to pay for classes each semester and how many I could take and afford. I was fortunate that FCPS covered a majority of my class costs with the tuition reimbursement program over the span of years it took to earn my degree.
Juggling a fulltime job as a Special Education Instructional Assistant and taking classes at the same time, I had to become very focused in time management. Also, when it came to the first part of my internship, I did not know how I was going to work out being in a classroom four days a week for half the day and still able to keep my day job to pay the bills. My administrators and department chairperson were amazing to work with, permitting me to stay at my home school to do my internship half the day and still work my regular fulltime job. This meant I did not have to find a part-time job and be overworked.
In the end, it was definitely worth it to go through this journey to become a teacher. I attended FCPS as a student grades K-12, worked as an FCPS support employee for 10 years, and would not trade any of it, seeing where I am today. This journey gave me a better appreciation for why I am a teacher and for the school system as a whole after working on the support services side. I see teaching as a meaningful profession and a career to be proud of. I am honored to fulfill my role as an educator.
Do you see the value of nontraditional paths to teaching? Share your views on Twitter @FCPSMDSuper. And if you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it on Facebook or Twitter.