Former engineer takes alternate path to teaching success, career fulfillment
As an environmental engineer for 10 years, Daria Pennington used super science to make the world a cleaner and better place. Now, the recently-certified high school teacher is using her scientific powers to help sculpt the minds of eager young learners.
Pennington is part of a growing group of career-changers leaving engineering careers behind for happiness as a math or science teacher. That's right. Happiness and math can be used in the same sentence. Juggling the desire to be gainfully employed during a recession and having a job that brings personal happiness, these career changers have abandoned higher-paying jobs for what they say is a fulfilling career as an educator.
"I know I need the fulfillment of watching our youth grow," said Pennington, who completed the Benedictine University Alternative Certification Program in 2008. "I don't believe it's a profession meant for everyone, but I am fortunate enough to have found the right career for my personality."
Seasoned career engineers are choosing university alternative teaching programs as a fast track toward finding their niche in teaching.
Pennington states that the abbreviated teaching program, allowing for completion and certification during an eight-week intensive summer session and yearlong paid internship, drew her to the Alternative Certification Program at Benedictine.
The Benedictine Alternative Certification Program uniquely provides a dedicated mentor who guides the candidate throughout the program. Standard teaching programs do not have such a valuable option.
"My mentor was a lifesaver," said Pennington. "I was so fortunate to have had her help me through my first year. She was a great influence on many decisions I was faced with making."
The path to certification was alternative but the quality was not. Pennington raves about the program's quality instruction, mentoring and classroom teaching components, which provided sufficient preparation to lead her own classrooms.
A school bell was ringing inside Pennington. No. She did not swallow a bell. She was answering the call to teach.
"I imagined myself as a teacher many times since my first job out of college," Pennington said. "I was a recycling coordinator for a county in Georgia and was able to visit schools to teach students about recycling. That experience sparked my interest and desire to teach.
"Also, throughout my engineering career, one of the most rewarding pieces of my job was to mentor incoming employees," she added.
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