This blog is based on a transcript from a video interview of Melissa Fears. This has been formatted to fit a blog. All edits that have been made are for legibility purposes only.
Our Talent Recruiter, Vernon Birmingham, sat down with one of our Career Changers, Melissa Fears, a Cohort 7 Resident who is currently teaching Seventh grade ELA, to discuss her reasons behind making the pivot from one career into the teaching profession.
Finding my way to the classroom
Prior to coming to KCTR, I was actually at home being a teacher to my son. I left my career as a communications professional once COVID hit. I had every intention of going back into my career. I was going to switch to a different position at another firm after COVID, and I found myself at home teaching my son. I had always wanted to be a teacher; For example, I was teaching my little dollies when I was a little kid and as an adult, I put that by the wayside and went a totally different route. So when I got to teach my son during COVID it just made all those feelings come back up inside of me again. I reflected, “Do I really have to go back to being a public relations professional?” I talked it over with my husband. He said,” No, you don’t. What do you wanna do?” I said, “I want to teach”.
I went out there and looked at the KCTR website to read about that program. I knew the fact that it is full time and I could get a stipend to be able to have pay still coming in while I was full-time in a classroom and doing schoolwork. No other program out there offered that type of relationship where you could be in the classroom, with a mentor to work with you, and an instructional coach from KCTR that would provide one-on-one support. That guidance made it a program that was gonna be the right fit for me. There was no question that this was going to be the one that I was going to go for. I was going to do whatever I needed to do to get into that program.
When I first found KCTR they, unfortunately, were not taking applications at the time because the cohort was closed. So when I started researching again I got something on my Facebook page about applying to KCTR and I said, “oh yeah, that’s it. It’s time!” Since I had already researched it, I knew it was a perfect fit for me because I wanted to get right into the classroom. I didn’t want to do four years and wait. I already had a bachelor’s degree, and I didn’t want another one. This program is a way to get a master’s in education and to get into that classroom really quickly. I said, yes, this is the program for me. Excellent. Fast forward, I’m in KCTR Cohort Seven.
What drew me to teaching
When I was younger, I didn’t learn like the traditional kiddos where you come home, open up the textbook, and study. No, I would come home from school and teach my dolls what I learned that day and that’s how I learned that content. Every year on my Santa wish list there was a chalkboard and a desk like a teacher. My teachers would even give me their old textbooks at the end of the school year. Everybody knew I was going to be a teacher, but then, I didn’t do it. What I was told was ‘they don’t make enough money” and “you need to pick a different career’ and so therefore I waited a long time to come into education.
My experience thus far
Woo. It’s a lot. So they talk about the productive struggle and I’ve been through it. This is a totally new occupation for me and there’s so much to learn, but there’s also that passion for wanting that knowledge. I want to be the very best that I can be for the students. So I am determined to absorb all I can, to ask questions of my instructional coach, and my mentor teacher, and to read my information. I want to do this because I want to be the very best teacher possible. So I’m gonna do whatever it takes.
I am teaching seventh-grade ELA and I love it. My mentor teacher is very supportive and so is my instructional coach. If I have questions about anything that we’re doing they have been excellent resources for me. So I don’t feel alone. I don’t feel like I’m drowning. I know that I have somebody that’s gonna give me that life preserver, so to speak. They are going to let me go through the productive struggle because that’s important to do, but they’re also gonna be there to support me and help me out and talk me through things and help me to understand.
It’s been phenomenal. If somebody is thinking about being a teacher, check out KCTR. I cannot say it enough. Check it out! if you’re serious and you’re passionate about being a teacher, then you’ll do it. This is the program for you!
Go after your dreams
Go for your passion in life. I have wasted way too much time not doing what I really wanted to do. I enjoyed being a journalist (I was a reporter for the Kansas City Star and then a public relations professional), but I always found a way to be a teacher in all of those different occupations. I found a way to teach the folks who were with me, whether it was crisis communications or writing for the internet. I always found a way to incorporate being a teacher. It is my love, my passion. So my advice to people is, if you have a passion for something, go after it. Do it. It’s not work. It is what you’ll love to do and you will never regret it.