This blog is based on a transcript from a video series. This has been formatted to fit a blog. All edits that have been made are for legibility purposes only.
Our Talent Recruiter Vernon Birmingham set down with one of our Career Changers Whitney Kinder Lacey, a Cohort 7 Resident who is currently teaching 4th grade at Topping Elementary School to discuss her reasons behind making the pivot from one career into the teaching profession.
Can you give us a Snapshot of what you were doing before joining our program and how you found us?
Right now I am currently teaching fourth grade at Topping Elementary School in the North Kansas City School District. Before I decided to go into teaching, I was a quality management specialist at a blood bank. I made sure that procedures, the lab, and staff were done according to FDA guidelines to ensure blood safety for recipients.
What was it that made you say, I wanna become a teacher?
So actually, I wanted to be a teacher when I was in high school. I decided not to go that route for various reasons. Then when 2020 happened and the shutdown occurred my third-grade son was at home. I kind of became an impromptu homeschool teacher and was trying to help him through the content as best I could. I started an online tutoring group for some of the kids that were in his class and was reminded how much I just really wanted to teach. That’s what lit that fire again.
What was your process for your research?
I was talking to my husband, and kind of told him where my head was at with [teaching]. He was very supportive and he was fine with it. He’s like, I just don’t wanna lose the house. So I started looking up schools and researching my options because I did already have a bachelor’s degree. I didn’t know if I would have to just earn another bachelor’s degree or what that would look like. I knew that there are more opportunities if you have a master’s degree or more advanced education. I literally got on the internet and looked up stuff as best I could to find what was available. And that was kind of how that process started. Through that process, I found The Educator Academy through an internet search.
Thank you for sharing that. Did you have any reservations when considering joining the program?
Oh, sure. Yeah. The biggest reservation that I had or concern that I had was knowing that when I [decided] to enter any program to become a teacher [that] was going to mean quitting my job, which meant a loss of income. You know, I’m really fortunate that I do have my husband and my husband does work, so we at least have his income. A lot of people don’t have that, but that was a huge consideration and that’s actually one of the reasons I didn’t start the process sooner. So it actually took me about three years from the time I initially found The Educator Academy. [There was hesitation] To apply for the program because the financial aspect of it was huge and I knew that there were various programs and [supports] that The Educator Academy has things in place to help with that. But it was still a really big consideration. It was a huge reservation.
So now that you’re in it, let’s talk a little bit about it. How is the residency program going for you thus far?
I think it’s going really well. I’ve really enjoyed the classes and the opportunities that I’ve had to meet new people within the cohort and also really being able to be in a classroom with students and doing really hands-on learning. I think that’s so important and I’m thoroughly enjoying it so much and I think I’m getting a lot out of it.
I’m really enjoying the mentor teaching process. I have an amazing mentor teacher who just has a ton to offer and is just open to me being there and teaching. From day one it was our classroom. It wasn’t her classroom. From day one we were both the students’ teachers. It wasn’t, she was a teacher and oh, this is someone here who is to help. Like from out the gate I was on that same level with her in her classroom. She made sure to set it up that way. I’ve had a really positive experience because of the support of my mentor teacher, because of the support of the teachers on the fourth-grade team there, and the other people that I’ve met. I feel like I’ve just been welcomed into the fold and the family that is there and all of the students who I come into contact with, not just in my classroom but around the school. There’s just a lot of positive relationship building and I really enjoy it.
Were there any similarities from your previous job to teaching?
So I actually immediately thought of something that has directly been transferable and that is at my previous job, a huge portion of that was feedback. Feedback to employees, feedback to collection sites, mobile sites, laboratories, and various things like that. Giving them feedback that’s going to help them grow and do better and to know what they’re doing well and then to give them pushes to get better. And that’s been a huge part of this program. Both in being able to receive feedback to help me grow, but also to give my mentor teacher feedback, my coach feedback, learning how to give and receive student feedback even to the kids in the class. And I think that skill has been directly transferable within what we have been doing here.
Thank you for sharing that. Are there any words of wisdom that you can give to someone who is struggling with that same thing?
I think it’s important to understand that it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s not easy, right and it’s a lot, there’s a lot of things that it’s going to be that you may not anticipate. I think if it’s something you really want to do, you should just lean into it. I personally understand needing to get your home and your life in order and I would always encourage people to do that because it’s gonna reduce the stress in the long run, even if it takes a little bit longer to get there. But if it’s what you really wanna do, just lean into it and make it happen.