Trio of TA’s gains teacher licensure together

Trio of TA’s gains teacher licensure together
Posted on 10/28/2022
Morganton, NC – Friday, Oct. 28, 2022

Three former teacher assistants at Drexel Elementary School now each have a classroom and students to call their own. Kimberly Hogan, Jessica Smith and Amy Smith have recently received their teaching license after pursuing their dreams together.

One pathway to becoming a teacher is graduating from high school, getting a four-year education degree and landing a teaching job, but for many in the past couple years that has not been the case. Burke County Public Schools has seen an increase in hiring people who have taken the non-traditional route to teaching, including those who are teacher assistants. In the 2018-2019 school year, BCPS hired 12 non-traditional employees to become teachers. In the current 2022-2023 school year, we have currently hired 25.

Keith Recker, BCPS director of human resources, said “I think we are seeing an increase due to a number of factors, including a desire for fulfillment, opportunity to serve the community, and a passion for nurturing children in their development.”

Each teacher in this trio has started their career in education in different ways.

Hogan said, “I have always loved working with children. I enjoyed my job as a TA, but I really wanted to be able to have my own classroom, and of course, after having my daughter I wanted to be able to afford to not have to work two jobs.” Hogan was a Pre-k teacher for two-year-olds at a local child care organization and then became a TA at North Liberty in 2013. She now teaches at Glen Alpine Elementary.

Jessica Smith has been in education since she graduated college, where she actually received a degree in communications. Soon after graduating college, she saw her strengths in teaching when she became a tutor. She also held positions of a teacher assistant and daycare worker. To challenge herself and continue her career growth, she entered into a program that was specifically for teacher assistants who wanted to become a teacher. She now teaches at Drexel Elementary.

Jessica Smith said, “I had notable people in my life that spoke to me and challenged me to take this step. I never in a million years dream that I would work in the school that I grew up in, but I do and I did and I love it.”

Amy Smith, the third of the trio, started out as a substitute teacher in 2013 and started working at Drexel Elementary in 2015 as a developmental day pre-k teacher assistant. She was inspired to become a teacher “by watching other amazing teachers and seeing the difference they are able to make in the lives of their students.”

They each echoed how there were difficulties in the process of achieving the status of teacher, but having each other close by was a blessing beyond measure.

Kim said, “I absolutely loved having two people I consider close friends by my side. Although we were all three going through different programs we were able to talk to each other about what we were doing and help each other or even just be there as a shoulder to lean on. I love both of these girls so much and I'm so very proud of them.”

Amy said, “Going through this process with two other people was the best. It was great to have someone who knew what you were going through, who could relate to your struggles and encourage you for the days ahead. They were a great support through this process.”

Jessica said, “We all three were in the same place. We had kids, we were teacher assistants, we all had this drive and doubted ourselves and believed in ourselves too. We were a network for each other at school. We pushed each other through especially during the licensing exams.”

They all received encouragement and advice when going through the licensing process and they wanted to offer up advice to others who may be further in their working career and thinking of taking the leap to become a teacher.

- “Just do it!”
- Find yourself a support group at work.
- Find your confidence and determination.
- Write down your goals!

BCPS offers new teachers various support and training opportunities such as mentorships, coaches, professional development and networking opportunities.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Swan said, “We are very proud of the hard work of these three teachers and those who have gone before them and those who will follow in their footsteps to become teachers. Following the calling to become a teacher is a true honor and it is a pleasure watching dreams being created and pursued. Thank you to all of our teachers for your strength, commitment and desire to serve others.”

In compliance with federal law, Burke County Public Schools administers all educational programs, employment activities, and admissions without discrimination against any person based on gender, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability.