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Jill Atwood ReportingA new pool of teaching candidates has started coming to Utah classrooms, spurred by a sluggish economy and a desire to make a difference.
Utah's state office of education has made it a lot easier for working professionals to switch career paths mid-stream with a program called Alternative Routes to Teacher Licensing.
This program is for individuals who have a Bachelors degree, but lack teacher preparation, and a desire to go back to school for years and years. Some think of this opportunity as on the job training.
Even though this program is only a year old it's catching on quickly with mid-career professionals who suddenly find themselves without a job, or who are just eager for a change.
Ronda Nielson/Alternative Licensing Advisor: "I call it a 911 epiphany. People who call up and say I can’t do this job anymore; I have to do something more meaningful."
Back when the economy was booming the state office was practically begging for good teachers. Now that times are tight applications are pouring in, but whether this new method will ease the state's teacher shortage remains to be seen.
Joan Patterson/Educator Licensing: "We're hoping that some of the people that are using it because of a fallback will find out that they really enjoy dealing with adolescents, or high school, or even elementary, that they will get their feet under them and have a wonderful career."
Students will also benefit from their teacher's real workforce experience. Admittedly, at first new teachers will lack certain classroom skills, but will be monitored and mentored every step of the way.
Ronda Nielson/Alternative Licensing Advisor: "A mentor is a master teacher who helps them on a daily or weekly basis, guides them really throughout whatever challenges they might have."
After about two years teachers hired under this program will be eligible for their license. There will be some classes required, depending on the position, but in some cases the district will pick up the tab.