DENVER - When Denver Public Schools has to look at the need of hiring more than 500 new teachers each year, administrators say they have to look for other candidates besides the typical education majors.
"We really value the set of experiences a professional can bring into the teaching profession after they've had another career in another field," Shannon Hagerman, DPS Director of Teacher Preparation Pathways, said.
Hagerman is in charge of the Denver Teacher Residency Program aimed at helping people like Maureen Farkash change careers.
"I worked for about 15 years as a classical musician," Farkash said.
Now, she is a music teacher and world language teacher at the DCIS at Fairmont, an elementary school in Denver.
"My life changed a lot when I had a child," Farkash said. "When I was working as a musician, I was traveling a lot."
The Denver Teacher Residency program helped her take classes and learn from a mentor teacher and obtain a teaching license in one year.
"I didn't really want to go through a traditional route where I was just going to sit in class all day. I already had a Master's," Farkash said. "So, [under a mentor teacher] I got to see what a year looks like from beginning to end."
Hagerman says the residency program is designed to streamline the process while getting teacher candidates real experience.
"Not everybody that has a long and successful career is able to go back to school for an extended amount of time," Hagerman said.
The residency program has expanded to 75 residents each year, helping DPS with its staffing needs.
"It's hard to find really good teachers who are committed to making a difference for kids and committed to doing that here in Denver," Hagerman said.
Farkash grew up going to DPS schools. She wants to give back.
"We need people invested here," Farkash said. "The turnover rate is so high."
If you want find out more about the Denver Teacher Residency program, click here: http://www.denverteacherresidency.org/
The deadline for applications for next year is February 15, 2014.
"There's a lot of people who wonder if teaching is for them and maybe wish that they had made that decision to enter the teaching profession earlier in their career," Hagerman said. "We're here to say, it's not too late."
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