Laid-Off Engineers Decide to Pick Up the Chalk

A struggling job market is pushing unemployed professionals into the classroom, but they'll be in front of the chalkboard, not in a desk.

Programs such as the Region 10 Teacher Preparation and Certification Program in Richardson have been flooded with applicants looking for job security.

"People, I think, in general think, 'Oh, anyone can teach,' but the reality of our world is knowing about something and being able to teach it to other people is not always as easy as you think," said Christine Flonouse, the program director.

Region 10 TPC has reached out to engineers laid off by Texas Instruments, and dozens have signed up to transition into a teaching career.

Lewis Flanagin, who has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, turned to the program when he couldn't find a job in his field.

He said he's always been interested in teaching, but knows going from the culture of corporate America to that of the classroom may be challenging.

"It's a lot different environment than working with peers your same age," Flanagin said.

Jeffrey Smith, a software engineer, is on his last leg of the teacher certification program. Region 10 TPC helped him secure a job as a high school math teacher in the Mesquite Independent School District.

He said he'll finally have  the peace of mind of a steady paycheck, even though it comes with a massive pay cut.

"Yes, it hurts," Smith said. "And we realize that I'm not going to be able to go out and buy the latest gadgets that I've been able to do, but I think it will be well worth it."

Potential candidates go through a rigorous interview process, but the program costs less than $4,000.

Participants must complete 300 hours of coursework, 180 days of supervised teaching and pass two state exams in the course of one year.

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