Student Spotlight: Grace Jones Finding the right professional path sometimes means trying new fields and...READ MORE
Career changer becomes a teacher in one year
When she was a child, Heather Yancey was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, and she said a teacher. Years later after working in childcare, hospitality and the restaurant industry, she decided to pursue what in her heart, her dream had been all along.
“I’ve tried different careers and they haven’t brought the fulfillment I was seeking,” Heather said. “After trying different types of education with younger students – Montessori and private – I transitioned to public education. I’ve done about every assistant role there is – classroom aide, special education assistant, support staff. It was time to take the leap.”
Starting the Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification program
Through a partnership with Bellevue School District, she heard about City University of Seattle’s Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification program through which she could earn her teaching certificate in one year.
“I applied to join the Alternate Routes program because it felt like a great fit for my situation,” Heather said. “I had my bachelor’s degree, I was already working in Bellevue School District, and I knew I wanted to work while achieving my certification… The experience to date has been wonderful, engaging, and encompassed many different topics to prepare us for teaching.”
Becoming a special education teacher
While she was in the program, she transitioned from a support position to a full-time special education position at a high school within the school district.
“I think there can be such a stigma, but [special education] students are willing and able to learn just like any other students, they just need more support and different ways to reach them,” Heather said. “When our students gain a new skill, the moment when it clicks never gets old.”
Heather says the variation in her day-to-day life teaching is one of the things she enjoys most.
“Every day I wake up and the things that will happen that day I could never expect – for better or for worse,” Heather said. “It’s neat to see students’ growth… I like working with them because it’s always something new. [Unlike other jobs], you’re never going to watch the clock and feel like, ‘why am I even doing this?’ There is always someone you’re helping.”
Heather will finish the program in summer 2017, and she looks forward to being a fully certified teacher and continuing to work in special education. Asked what she would tell someone considering studying in the program, Heather said:
“Be brave and go for it. It is like anything else; you feel like you’re stepping into the unknown and then you learn a little more and a little more, and then words you’ve never heard before become more familiar and you start to figure it out. Also, lean on your peers and reach out for help from the professors. Every time I reached out, everyone was really responsive.”