The need to give something back is motivating mid-career professionals to consider an alternative line of work: teaching. Those who wish to forego the corporate experience are finding greater challenges--and more satisfying rewards--in American public schools.
Almost 8,000 applications were submitted for the following school year, but only one in five was accepted. The new group is 30 percent African-American, 12 percent Hispanic, and 32 percent male. Almost one-quarter of them have a graduate degree, and more than half are aged 25 to 49.
More Than Money The NYC fellowship does not pay particularly well (just over $30k to start), but money is not the prime motivating factor for a career-changing teacher. "Sometimes making good money isn't enough. You want to wake up knowing that you are making a difference in a child's life," says Tania Caraballo-Catus. Ms. Caraballo-Catus taught in the Bronx for a year, and is now a recruiter for the New York Teaching Fellows. "It's about wanting a challenge," she adds, "something that is rewarding to both you and the community."
The job can be physically and mentally grueling. "You need to feel a strong commitment to teaching," says Christine Derananian, "because it will be the hardest job you ever do, but also the most emotionally rewarding." Derananian taught in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan for three years, and is now an admissions communications associate for the program. She says of teaching: "It's not an hourly job. You will think about it all the time. But at the same time, it's an amazing feeling when a child finally understands something after days of hard work."
The Revolution Continues? The New Teacher Project, a division of Teach for America, does the recruitment and selection for NYC fellows. The New York City Board of Education handles their training and placement. The program will eventually be completely run by the Board of Education. Similar initiatives are in place in a number of other school districts around the country, including Compton, CA, Kansas City, KS, Kansas City, MO, and San Jos