It is important that our students have the expertise and support they need for their journey towards becoming successfully equipped, certified teachers. When candidates call our Alternative Online Teaching Certification Program, located in Pensacola, FL, many may not realize the significance of the different voices giving advice on the other end of the phone. One of these impactful voices is Dr. Karyn Combs, a former teacher, award-winning school principal, and military service member.
An Early Calling to Become A Teacher
Dr. Combs, along with her parents and sister, was among the first African American missionaries to Rangoon Burma, now called Myanmar. During this time, Combs says she found her calling to become an educator.
My sister and I used to go out on the porch and teach the Burmese children English. We set it up just like a classroom.
Helping Veterans Change Careers and Become Certified Teachers
After many years working in the classroom, Combs served as a school principal for 16 years on an Air Force base. Here, she had the opportunity to interact with many air force members wanting to become certified teachers after retirement.
When the service members got close to retirement, often times they wanted to become a teacher, as they had either mentored or volunteered at our school. This gave me an opportunity to spend time with them after school and give them tips for what to do. I was asked by the local college to help pre-candidates on a regular basis—those wanting to change careers and go into education. I would have mock interviews for them and give them a lot of foundation in terms of how to interview. Many of them were hired to be teachers.
Expertise to Guide the Future of Teachers
During her 16 years as a school principal, students consistently performed above average and received high test scores on the standardized tests given by the state. Because of Comb’s relentless, year-after-year commitment to excellence, her school received recognition as an “A+ School” for 16 years.
We would say that if you teach well and lesson plans are well developed to meet the different learning styles of children, then children are able to move forward successfully. It is key to start where children are and bring them forward, but you must have the skills to meet different needs. Today is not what it used to be—not a lot of lecturing. It must be interactive. I always taught in three learning modes—auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. There is a Chinese proverb that says, ‘Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I’ll remember, involve me and I’ll remember and understand.’ That is very important.
As a current TeacherReady® Admissions and Field Placement Advisor, Combs mentors and assists students, just as she did for those retiring military members wanting to become certified teachers. Not only does she help candidates become teachers, but she is committed to seeing these candidates through to success even after they have completed the program.
I am very fortunate to have a background in education as a teacher and as a former school principal and military member, so I can talk to those who are looking to change their career and become certified teachers.
Asti Kelley, TeacherReady®