“My sophomore year, it was a bit like ‘let me try this out,’” she said. “But I soon started getting more serious about it.”
Sophomore and junior courses were followed by a practicum that sent her across the street to Walnut Grove Elementary, where she worked with second graders.
“It was hands-on in an actual class, and I developed relationships with the kids,” she said. “That made me very confident that I wanted to go into teaching.”
In her senior year, Prieto had a “signing day” when she inked a letter of intent that promised a job in Gwinnett after college. It’s an approach that Tim Hemans, the district’s executive director of college and career development, hopes will put more teachers in Gwinnett’s pipeline.
“We’re in the business of education, and we know we need high-quality teachers,” he said. “So why not start from within?”
Those efforts are being bolstered by a $10,000 Cultivating Teachers Grant from the Georgia Department of Education. It’s one piece of a $350,000 investment in Teaching as a Profession Pathway courses at 38 districts around the state. Hemans plans to step up recruitment efforts for Gwinnett’s pathway, starting with a seminar for aspiring teachers planned for November to give them an insight into opportunities. Beth Autrey, a coordinator in the Academies and Career and Technical Education department, said the seminar will target students early to get them excited about teaching.
“We’ll have break-out sessions, a panel of last year’s teachers of the year and a college fair,” she said. “We want to make sure they understand the benefits of completing the pathway and start thinking about what college they want to go to.”
For Prieto, being on the pathway has already paid off in her college courses.
“I have such an advantage because I’ve had so much experience,” she said. “I’m glad I did it, even though I didn’t know that signing was a thing until I was a senior, and a teacher mentioned it. I remember saying, ‘Wait – what? They’ll give me a job?’ It was great!”
Information about the Gwinnett’s Teaching as a Profession and other career pathways is online at gcpsk12.org.
SEND US YOUR STORIES. Each week we look at programs, projects and successful endeavors at area schools, from pre-K to grad school. To suggest a story, contact H.M. Cauley at email@example.com or 770-744-3042.