Pennsylvania has a fast-track program for teacher certification, said Lynn Lerew, director of human resources at the Chambersburg (Pa.) Area School District. At Wilson College in Chambersburg, the Teacher Intern Program offers night and weekends courses so the prospective teacher doesn't have to resign his or her day job until it's time to begin student teaching, he said.
Also, Pennsylvania offers an emergency teaching certificate that allows people with a bachelor's degree to substitute teach, Lerew said.
"It gives them an opportunity to dip their big toe in the pool and see how they like teaching," he said.
Gary Sokol, assistant superintendent of human resources for the Jefferson County (W.Va.) School District, said he prefers to hire teachers with a background in education because they are trained in classroom management and other teaching skills.
But sometimes it's difficult to find certified teachers to fill positions in math, science and business. That's where so-called nontraditional teachers come in, he said.
For the first time ever, the Maryland State Board of Education will offer a free job fair geared to career-switchers, said spokesman Bill Reinhard.
For more information about the fair, scheduled Sept. 28 in Baltimore, contact Cindi Waugh at 410-841-2101.
Just this week, the state repeated a mantra it's been trying to get across for the past three years: that every school system in Maryland is facing teacher shortages, he said. The shortages have become critical in the areas of computer science, math, science and technology education, he said.
Second-career teachers, while they can help fill that gap, can also be a valuable addition to the school system, Mowen said.
"When people change careers and become teachers they bring that wealth of experience into the classroom," she said.
Second-career teachers can also explain to students from experience why the information they are being taught will be useful to them in their careers, she said.
"That's a bit of added credibility that is sometimes helpful to motivate students," she said.