Students hear varied paths to teaching careers

QCHS continued its Career Pathways Speaker Series, which switches to STEM-related fields in October.
Posted on 09/27/2022
Jeanne Caputo, holding microphone, sits with students on the Q-PAC stage speaking about the path she took to becoming a teacher at Strayer.By Gary Weckselblatt

Four Quakertown Community School District teachers from varied backgrounds explained to QCHS students Tuesday 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.”

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or [email protected]
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