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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University August 20, 2007 | Vol. 36 No. 42
Career Changers Prepare to Move Into Baltimore City Classrooms

By James Campbell
School of Education

James Latimer, a family doctor for 25 years in rural upstate New York, will start a new career later this month as a science teacher in Independence High School in Baltimore City.

Latimer is one of more than 100 new teachers who, through the Baltimore City Teaching Residency Program, will be in the classroom this fall and simultaneously working toward master of arts in teaching degrees from Johns Hopkins' School of Education.

Most of the 100 are leaving another career to start teaching in Baltimore City.

Latimer and his wife wanted to move to a warmer climate from their small remote community in upstate New York, where the nearest city was Ottawa, Ontario. The physician also wanted to start a new career. After discussing various possibilities with several career counselors, he chose teaching.

"As a teacher, I felt I could make a meaningful difference in a child's life," Latimer said. "The Baltimore City Teaching Residency Program was a great fit for me. The program offered benefits and an excellent master's degree in teaching program at the Johns Hopkins School of Education." He will start teaching science to high school students on Aug. 27, when schools begin classes.

Latimer will join more than 200 students in the Johns Hopkins MAT program who will start teaching in the fall, and who comprise about 20 percent of the city's incoming class of new teachers. Their course work started in June at Johns Hopkins and continued this month with new teacher training at Digital High School. Additionally, the School of Education offers mentors and university supervisors to support new teachers during their first year on the job.

"The career changer brings a strong sense of dedication and a wealth of experience to the classroom in subject areas that are hard for many schools to fill," said Lydia Lafferty of the School of Education, who coordinates the BCTR/Johns Hopkins program.

Across the country, the number of adults who go into teaching from other careers has been increasing and is expected to play an important role in addressing the nation's teacher shortage. A Harvard University study found that almost half (46 percent) of first- and second-year teachers in New Jersey had earlier careers and did not start teaching right after college.

Research has shown that individuals changing professions to enter teaching bring valuable skills from their prior work and a fresh perspective, which includes helping students apply their knowledge to the real world. The students in the Johns Hopkins MAT program will be teaching in many of the critical shortage areas as defined by the Maryland State Department of Education, such as early childhood education, foreign language, mathematics, sciences (chemistry, earth/space, physics and physical science) and special education.

The teacher candidates in the MAT program will bring a variety of past experiences to the classroom from such diverse fields as law, engineering, medicine, science and business. Students who will be teaching middle school math include a marketing major and former office manager and a master's degree graduate in aerospace engineering who has just completed two years in Ghana with the Peace Corps.


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