From the Company to the Classroom: Why This Mom Became a Teacher
After many years of working in other career areas, Leigh Ann Conrad became a teacher. She enrolled in TeacherReady 3 years ago and is now teaching 2nd grade in Leon County, Florida. The TeacherReady team recently had the chance to catch up with the entire Conrad family to learn how this online teacher certification program changed one mom’s life.
After graduating in Interior Environments from Auburn University, Leigh Ann entered the work force as a customer service representative for Business Interiors, Inc. in Alabama. Later, she moved to Atlanta to work as a project manager for Geiger International Furniture. This contract furniture business is known for setting the standards for craftsmanship and customer satisfaction. For 6 years she thrived working in this job that included extensive travel.
Moving into Ministry
Even though the Geiger job was thrilling and rewarding, Leigh Ann realized that it did not satisfy her innermost need to help others. She firmly believed in “people over stuff” and left business to enter ministry. Here she mentored and coached single women through her work with local community groups, Bible Study classes and personality seminars. Although she didn’t realize it at the time, Leigh Ann was slowly but surely on her way to becoming a teacher.
The Private Sector
After several years in ministry, Leigh Ann married Dave, a structural engineer involved in commercial design. Given her background in design, she started working full time at her husband’s company. Their business flourished until Hurricane Katrina, an extremely destructive and deadly Category 5 storm, made landfall in Florida and Louisiana in 2005. ‘Katrina’ caused catastrophic damage from central Florida to eastern Texas, greatly affecting many businesses in these areas. Despite the couple’s multiple attempts to save the company, they eventually had to close its doors. Money was scarce for the Conrad family. One year later they had a baby girl named Carolyn.
Stay at Home Mom
Following the aftermath of the hurricane, Leigh Ann and Dave were “tanking” and desperately needed income. They did not file for bankruptcy as Dave stated, “I didn’t want to make internal decisions based on current circumstances”, similar to the concept in the movie Gladiator. Leigh Ann stayed home with Carolyn while Dave worked to complete former projects and finalize the company affairs. In 2008, they had another baby girl named Betsy.
School Volunteer/Substitute Teacher
Leigh Ann remained home with her daughters until the youngest entered Kindergarten. At this time she began to volunteer in her daughters’ school. Although she didn’t have the gift of money, she had the gift of time. Her frequent volunteering led to extensive substitute teaching. She soon found herself working full-time because so many teachers requested her. Even though Leigh Ann loved working with children, the thought of going back to school to become a certified teacher had not entered her mind.
Online College Student
When several teachers suggested that she become certified, she was flattered. While searching through some websites, the TeacherReady program popped up. As luck would have it, there was an upcoming webinar and she signed on. After talking to the program director, Dr. Sarah Miller, Leigh Ann felt interest, excitement, confidence and affirmation from outside of her family. She later described the webinar as “divine intervention”. When her husband said, “Go for it”, she enrolled in the program and jumped into a new career with both feet!
Learning to Teach While Substitute Teaching
“Mom is going to school just like us”, exclaimed her girls!
School for Leigh Ann consisted of 3 requirements: online coursework assignments, field experience assignments and 3 teacher certification exams.
In the summer, while her girls were swimming and reading, Leigh Ann studied for her upcoming exams. The following fall she continued to sub, using these hours to complete her field experience assignments. At night and on weekends, Leigh Ann worked on her online coursework assignments. Not long after becoming certified, she accepted a long-term sub position for a teacher on maternity leave. She applied for a teaching position for the 2017-2018 school year and awaited with great expectation. The principal of the school where Leigh Ann had been subbing hired her for the coming school year. She has been there for 2 years.
Teacher: Mission Accomplished
Leigh Ann is now a full-time teacher at Roberts Elementary in Tallahassee, FL.
Betsy, a 5th grader, and Carolyn, a 7th grader, are very happy that their mom became a teacher.
Dave is very proud of Leigh Ann and not at all surprised that she finished the certification program in just 1 year.
“I just walk to mom’s classroom and it’s convenient. I get to sit in mom’s comfy chair, eat snacks and do homework somewhere private with all the cool technology! I have fun in her big open classroom space.”
“I like working with mom after school and sometimes on weekends helping her with special projects.”
“Leigh Ann has an amazing ability to shift gears. I’m glad she ‘went for it!”
”I am entirely grateful for the way everything has unfolded across my life. It has truly been amazing to see God’s hand in everything. TeacherReady was a door that opened at just the right time. Dr. Miller and her staff welcomed me, led me, and made what I am doing now possible. Thank you!”
This mom has excelled in business, ministry, parenting and now teaching. As most of us learn, life is full of unexpected turns. Leigh Ann successfully combined her interests and skills to fuel a career change that has been a win-win situation for the entire Conrad family.
“If mom’s not happy, nobody’s happy!”