TULSA — There are nearly 500 emergency-certified teachers in Tulsa Public Schools classrooms this school year. That number is up from 390 during last school year – 16 percent of the district’s teaching staff.
Catherine Glover, an newly emergency-certified teacher said, “I think the misconception that those of us coming into the emergency certification process are just somebody off the street. We’re not. We are college educated. We are people who, for a lot of us, spent decades owning our own companies, running companies who have always had a passion to teach.”
Glover has a degree in criminal justice and is a self-employed business owner from Edmond. But she now teaches music and art to pre-k students at Skelly Primary in Tulsa.
She said, “I knew I had a passion for the students and making a change. I wanted to take my part in making a difference.”
When life recently dealt Glover a bad hand, she knew she needed a change in order to be fulfilled - in a classroom. So, she thought about getting an education degree but decided against it because of the years she would have to spend in school.
Glover is one of many people who want to teach but don’t have the right degree. “Those folks bring something different into the classroom,” Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist said. “It’s just that they need extra support for the parts of the job that are not the content but the parts of the job that are ‘How do you teach?’”
Gist said TPS has the perfect avenue for people like Glover. “We have our Tulsa Teacher Corps in which we bring them into that program, provide them with the preparation, and they’re still going through a certification process. It’s just a different pathway to that certification.”
So, Glover moved to Tulsa from Edmond in May and jumped on board with the Tulsa Teacher Corps, taking 235 hours of classroom training - learning things like classroom management and culturally responsive teaching. The latter came in handy with the majority of Glover’s students being Hispanic. Luckily, she teaches the universal languages of music and art.
She said, “(The sudents) get to dance. They get to have fun. All the students love to move. All of them love to paint and draw. And it brings out things inside of them that they may not know about.”
So with the Teacher Corps’ help, Glover felt prepared for the classroom. What she was not prepared for was the joy and satisfaction she would get seeing the glimmer in a student’s eye or feeling an “aha” moment, adding, “I’m just am so blessed. I think, what an opportunity! I get to do this every single day. The worst and most frustrating day . . . is still better than even my best day outside of here.”
It’s proof, according to TPS, that a passionate person with a burning desire to teach - with the right guidance - is just as qualified to stand in front of students.
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