JoAnne Jachyra learned about the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program when she was laid off from her IT management job in 2009. TAA is a federal program that funds retraining for workers who lose their jobs to international competition.
Jachyra qualified for the funds and used them to go back to school, something she’s always wanted to do. “Ever since I graduated from Michigan State with a degree in astrophysics I had entertained the idea of becoming a teacher,” says Jachyra. “I had to do a process and say ‘OK well here’s what I want to do, here’s how long it’ll take, here’s how much it’ll cost.’ And part of that is they have a list and they say ‘these are the growing professions that you can get trained in because we feel that you will be able to find a job when you are done with that.’” Teaching was on that list.
Jachyra spent a year in an accelerated degree program – the cost was about $3,000 – that was paid for by the TAA. “It didn’t cost me anything other than time and a lot of effort,” says Jachyra.She got her certification to teach high school and middle school math and physics, but finding a job proved more difficult than she had expected. “I seriously thought being certified as a physics and math teacher I should be able to walk into any school in metro Detroit and have a job,” she says.Jachyra spent several months looking for a teaching position before settling at a charter school in the Detroit area.By most accounts, JoAnne Jachyra is a retraining success story. Her degree program led directly into a teaching job. But Jachyra sees things differently. “Charter school teaching, for anyone that’s ever been a teacher will tell you, it’s challenging and difficult, and certainly for a first year teacher maybe not such a good idea,” she says.
She left the charter school in February and has been substitute teaching since. Eventually, she plans on returning to IT management. Jachyra still wants to be a teacher – if the right job opens up – but her experience so far has been disappointing. “I’m not sure I would have pursued a degree in teaching had I known how difficult it would be to find a job once I got it,” she says.
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