Teaching an important career for those with dedication, heart
Teaching is a career that takes intelligence, dedication and skill, but most importantly, the desire to teach must come from the heart.
“People who are driven by teaching are teachers at heart,” said Professor Mary Belknap, JCC teacher education program coordinator. “They are givers, not takers. They feel they can inspire and guide the next generation; have a positive influence on the future.”
Gina Chomic is an alumnus of JCC who completed her bachelor’s degree in special education, learning disabilities from Michigan State University and has taught four years at Vandercook Lake Community Schools. “Honestly, it’s a job you have to enjoy. You can’t go into it for the pay,” Chomic said. “It’s something that you enjoy and that you love.”
Chomic said she fell in love with the job when working as a teacher’s aide, and after that enrolled at JCC to become a teacher. “I find it rewarding. It has to be intrinsically rewarding,” Chomic said.
JCC alumnus Michael Olds is a 2011 education graduate of Spring Arbor University. “The best way I thought to influence people for the future was to become a teacher and help students as they develop through high school. I think high school and transitioning into college is a very influential time.”
Despite the ailing economy and reports of cutbacks, there is always a need for quality teachers. Currently, more than 50 percent of the workforce is eligible to retire in the next few years, creating a real need for exceptional teachers, Belknap said.
Today’s classroom is changing quickly, and teachers must adapt. Teachers face increased demands for accountability, integrating technology, working with diverse populations, and using collaborative learning methods involving other teachers and educational professionals. Excellent communication skills are essential, as well as the ability to inspire confidence, build trusting relationships and motivate students.
“The whole disposition of teachers is being considered more and more. At JCC, we have students participate in several self-evaluations to see if teaching really is for them,” Belknap said. “Some find that after their field experiences and self-analysis, they are not suited for teaching. One comment I hear often is they never realized how much work teaching involves.”
JCC’s teacher education program prepares future teachers through hands-on experiences and active classroom work. JCC offers first- and second-year core general education courses with a teaching emphasis, including selected course sections in English, technology, science, art and communications. Students may gain experience and explore the profession through volunteer activities and service learning projects. The College has a formal partnership with Spring Arbor University to help provide a “seamless” transfer experience. The JCC program has informal partnerships with most of the leading Michigan universities certifying teachers. For more information, visit the web page at www.jccmi.edu/academics/teachereducation/.
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