Broward County voters recently passed a referendum to tax themselves more to give teachers a pay raise. Miami-Dade voters may pass a similar ballot issue in November because everyone seems to acknowledge the fact that teachers are underpaid.
However, satisfaction can’t always be measured by the size of a paycheck. This explains why hundreds of people are changing careers, becoming teachers, in Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
“It gives you this amazing sense that you’re making a difference, that’s basically what it is,” said veteran teacher Raylin Escobar, who teaches fourth grade at Ben Sheppard Elementary School in Hialeah.
When you’re a veteran in any profession, your expertise is valuable, especially to rookies in your field. So the Miami-Dade MINT program, an acronym for Mentoring Induction for New Teachers, pairs newbies with experienced mentors like Escobar.
“It gives me a sense of satisfaction because I know I’m helping but it also rejuvenates me because I see the enthusiasm and energy these new teachers have and it’s contagious,” Escobar said.
New teachers such as Bertha Alis, who fell into this profession, she didn’t major in education in college.
“I started in journalism,” Alis said, explaining that working in television news didn’t suit her, so she looked for something else. “I started substituting to see if I actually liked it, I fell in love with the kids.”
About 55 percent of people in the MINT program, which has about 700 rookie teachers, are becoming teachers after leaving another career track. The school district requires them to take courses to become state certified teachers. These are classes education majors take in college.
“You have to do what you love, you have to find what you love, you know you study something and it just doesn’t end up working out,” Alis said.
First-year teacher Tamara Sanchez is in the MINT program, already state certified because she was an education major in college, but she still relies on her mentor.
“So yesterday I had a question about a lesson today and I was like, I’m gonna group the children, what do you suggest? And she goes ahead and says based on my experience I’ve done this, try it out and see if it works with your children, so that’s very helpful,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez says so far, so good. The satisfaction of molding young lives is something few other careers can match.
“You know everything has its challenges but it’s kinda nice when the kids, something clicks in them, or they say something like, oh, yeah, Miss Sanchez, and I’m like, I taught you this, I did this!” Sanchez said with a laugh.