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Your Classroom is Waiting

 

February 6, 2018

By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools 

Kevin Green still recalls the day he was driving along interstate 840.

He was on the phone with his wife, Sally.

She was a secretary at Stewarts Creek Middle School. He owned his own contracting company and specialized in small residential remodels.

Together they both wanted more. 

They wanted to become teachers.

Kevin thought “one of these days when money doesn’t matter” he would pursue a degree in education, but could not help from telling his wife and telling her, “I know this is what I’m supposed to do.”

He added, “The Lord was kind of just like, ‘All right, how about right now? Here you go.’”

That night he put together a resume and cover letter, logged onto the Rutherford County Schools’ website and saw that Blackman High School was looking for a personal finance instructor.

Kevin, who had earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business while attending Mississippi State University, had always thought he would teach math, but with years of experience in sales and marketing and now owning his own business, this opportunity simply made sense.

The Greens agree. It was the Lord speaking to them.

On a Monday morning the last week of July 2014, he drove over to Blackman and asked to meet with the school’s newly hired principal Leisa Justus. Unfortunately, the position was filled, but he left a packet of materials and — as luck would have it — the position came back available and Justus called him on Wednesday.

She looked through the materials he left and said “he had a great cover letter.”

He wrote, “I feel this class can be instrumental in giving students a head start in planning and preparing to work and live in a very demanding economy. It is information that I wish I had been taught before being faced with many of the pressures and decisions that will face each one of our students.”

He interviewed on Friday and spent the next week filling out new hire papers and going through a background check.

His first day of teaching was the first day he walked into a high school classroom since graduating in 1987.

“He had firsthand experience in business, marketing and entrepreneurship,” Justus said, “and those were the exact classes we need him to teach. I felt his experience would benefit our students.”

“Every detail, it literally worked out,” Green said, “and I don’t believe that’s by chance. The Lord did that. He laid it on our hearts to do this and laid those steps out for us.”

If a prospective educator holds at least a bachelor’s degree with an overall GPA of 2.75 or higher, the State of Tennessee will allow them to teach in an area in which they have verified content knowledge.

When a principal recommends someone for a position through the job-embedded program, the human resources department at Rutherford County Schools will refer the person to a university where they will obtain a program of study that will lead to a teaching license.

Job-embedded hires have three years to complete the university’s requirements, while teaching full time for RCS.

The program is great for those people, like Kevin and Sally Green, interested in making a mid-career change or recent graduates who did not complete a teaching program. It’s also one way to qualify for the nearly 400 teaching jobs RCS will be hiring for the 2018-19 school year.

This year’s Teacher Recruitment Fair is Feb. 24 from 9-11 a.m. at Blackman High School. Positions are available in grades kindergarten through 12th, and principals from all 47 Rutherford County schools will be in attendance with an opportunity to sign preliminary contracts for open positions.

District administrators for specialty areas — including fine arts, special education and English as a Second Language — will be featured at their own tables and candidates can speak with district personnel regarding these positions in addition to individual school administrators.

The decision for Kevin and Sally Green has been rewarding and fulfilling.

Sally joined RCS in 2010 as a special education assistant and then became principal Larry Creasy’s secretary at Stewarts Creek Middle School a year later.

Like her husband, she had attended Mississippi State, where she majored in public relations. Sally had been taking a combination of online classes and classes at night and on weekends in an effort to earn a degree in elementary education.

When Creasy accepted a position as principal at Siegel High School, he convinced Sally to join him as an instructor in the CDC classroom, which serves special education students with higher needs.

Doing so meant she would need six more college courses, but Creasy convinced Sally that she would be happier in the long run.

Both families attend the same church. Together they prayed.

“That’s exactly what I was supposed to do,” said Sally, who values Creasy’s insight. “I wish I had done that from the very beginning at 18. I absolutely love CDC. That’s where I’m supposed to be.”

In fact, when Creasy first approached Sally with the idea of pursuing CDC through the job-embedded program, she can still hear him saying, “Whenever you were the secretary and disappeared from your desk, where were you? You were in the CDC classroom interacting with those students. I saw from the beginning that you loved those kids.”

She made the decision to switch in January 2015 after originally starting college in 2013.

It wasn’t easy.

Kevin focused on his studies on weeknights, while Sally took weekend courses and both utilized the summer session at Middle Tennessee State University.

And together they raised their three children.

“In addition to having the content knowledge,” Justus said Kevin “has a great rapport with students, high standards and an engaging teaching style that motivates students.”

“If it were not for the job-embedded program I don’t think I would be teaching,” said Kevin, who noted the heart Sally has for kids and the joy she gets from working with them. “I would definitely do it again.”

Sally agreed.

“Yeah, I’d definitely do it again,” she added. “It’s very rewarding. … I’m glad we did it.”