Teachers exhibit varied paths to education careers

Four Quakertown Community School District teach­ers from var­ied back­grounds explained to QCHS stu­dents how their career paths pulled them in dif­fer­ent direc­tions before they land­ed in the field of education.

Kurt Amen, Jeanne Caputo, Tyler Kitchenman, and Tracey Sieger gave “The New Teacher Perspective” as part of the school’s Career Pathways Speaker Series. The month­ly series will include var­i­ous career options for stu­dents with Academic Pathways, includ­ing Arts and Humanities, Business, Marketing and Finance, STEM and Computer Science. Earlier this month stu­dents learned from Dr. Michael Zackon, QCSD’s Supervisor of Secondary Programs. 

Next month, STEM talks include the Lehigh Valley Health Network’s dis­cus­sion of career pro­fes­sion­al­ism and pro­mo­tion of skills essen­tial for health and pub­lic safe­ty, includ­ing hands-only CPR and “Stop The Bleed” train­ing. They will also par­tic­i­pate in a Healthcare Career Day at BCCC’s Upper County Campus.

Each of the speak­ers showed there are sev­er­al ways to become a teacher,” said Pathways Coordinator Laura Neilson, a world lan­guage teacher. “Those were some wild sto­ries. It shows there is no one path.”

Ms. Sieger, for exam­ple, worked in the the­ater and film indus­try in New York City while also wait­ing tables to make ends meet. In a career change, she took a job at an ani­mal shel­ter. After get­ting mar­ried and hav­ing a fam­i­ly, she became a teach­ing assis­tant and didn’t real­ize “how much I would love it.” She’s now teach­ing kinder­garten at Pfaff.

Each step is a learn­ing tool to have in your tool­box,” she said.

Mr. Amen, a QCHS grad, sug­gest­ed stu­dents use jobs not only to find out what they like but “to tell you what you don’t want to do.” He went to col­lege for pre-med but quick­ly found out that wouldn’t be his path. “They wheeled out a cadav­er and when I cut into its stom­ach gas came out. I wasn’t expect­ing that and it smelled. I knew I wasn’t going to be a surgeon.”

Mr. Kitchenman said “My lack of a path was my path.” He received an English degree from Temple and found him­self life­guard­ing for the Red Cross. “It’s where I found my love for teach­ing,” he said.

In her 28th year of teach­ing, Ms. Caputo start­ed at an alter­na­tive school and then a deten­tion cen­ter before teach­ing at Bucks County Prison. That led her to Pennsbury for 16 years. He’s in her sec­ond year at Strayer. “All of those expe­ri­ences have been very help­ful,” she said.

Alexander Alfaro-Diaz, a sopho­more who sat in on the event, said “Even though they have dif­fer­ent back­grounds and dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ences they all end­ed up in the same place. It’s valu­able to learn dif­fer­ent things. That was real­ly interesting.”