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How Another Career Can Prepare You for Teaching

Cheri Nations of North Gwinnett Middle School

We are always intrigued by the variety of pathways that lead people to become teachers. Some see it as a calling early on in his or her career. Others, such as Cheri Nations of North Gwinnett Middle School, decide to become teachers after working in an entirely different industry — in her case, it was chemical engineering. However, everything she learned and experienced as a chemist better prepared her for teaching.

Cheri Nations graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in chemistry. She worked in various labs and at a manufacturing company that produced pet chemical products. After taking some time off to raise her family, Cheri took a position as a kindergarten paraprofessional so she could be on her children’s schedule.

She also tutored high school students in math and science.

Cheri took her teaching to the next level when she created and taught the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) class at Puckett’s Mill Elementary School in 2013.  In 2014, she accepted a position at North Gwinnett Middle School.

When asked what the biggest challenge was that she faced with the switch, she said, “I think there is a big difference in knowing content and being able to successfully teach content. There is so much involved in education that goes beyond knowing the course content.” So, what helped her face that challenge? Teach Gwinnett. Cheri says this about her experience in the program: “I participated in the Teach Gwinnett teacher preparation program. The program was comprehensive and covered all the different aspects of teaching and learning. It asked us to learn more about ourselves as learners to better understand the students in our classroom. Each topic covered had something I could take away and implement immediately into my classroom.”

Perhaps you are considering a career in teaching as well but aren’t sure if you can make the switch. We hope that Cheri’s story has provided some insight and can help you take the next step!