Obama's plea for teachers comes at hard time

January 26, 2011 3:22:24 PM PST
President Obama used his State of the Union speech to implore young people to become teachers Tuesday night, but with educators around the country facing budget cuts and layoffs, some wonder why anyone would pick teaching as a career.

Still, some are inspired.

Doug Nisenson is a prospective teacher in the Triangle.

"I'm an enthusiastic person and I was lucky enough to have some great mentors along the way in my high school that were teachers and coaches of mine, and that's kind of my motivation," he told ABC11 Wednesday.

Nisenson only realized he could blend his passion for sports and motivation into one career after graduating college. He now wants to be teacher, so he picks up shifts as a substitute until he earns his certificate.

"I don't think there's a more underappreciated, underpaid position than a teacher and that's more true now because you don't just teach," he said.

The journey for prospective and seasoned teachers has been a rough one. Last year, more than 3,000 teachers were laid off in North Carolina and budget cuts could slash thousands more jobs.

But Tuesday night, President Obama urged people like Nisenson to pick that career anyway.

"If you want to make a difference in a child's life, if you want to make a difference in this world, become a teacher," he said in his State of the Union speech.

"I think it will pick back up though. I'd like to think that everything sort of works that way. So. I'd like to think eventually, public education will make a comeback. But it's tough because you're fighting an uphill battle in a lot of places to educate kids anyway," said Nisenson.

North Carolina Association of Educators President Sheri Strickland agrees.

"The economy will improve and then we are going to continue to need more and more teachers because the population in our state continues to grow," she said.

Strickland says despite layoffs, she believes there will be plenty of jobs for those who are patient.

"A large population of teachers right now fall into that Baby Boomer age span and in the next couple of years, we will probably see a very high level of teachers retiring," she said.

Nisenson says he will continue to scan job postings for work as a substitute. He'll need more schooling if he wants to teach full time, but he believes his passion could carry him through.

"I've heard from a lot of teachers that that kind of flame inside of you will eventually die, which is kind of sad. But that's kind of why I got into it. I love coaching. I love motivating," he said.

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