Originally created 10/12/03

Teens get chance to learn to teach



CONYERS, Ga. - Apprenticeships in more than 40 Georgia school systems offer seniors a paycheck and class credit in a program that gives them a head start at learning how to be a teacher.

Under the program, the teens spend every other day of their senior year working full time in an elementary classroom.

Most apprenticeships are funded by local schools. The state started the program in 1998.

The state Department of Education is developing guidelines to track the number of apprentices who go on to be teachers. Last year, there were 453 apprentices across the state.

This year's crop of teachers-to-be at Barksdale Elementary School includes Kristy Akins, a joint enrollment student at Georgia Perimeter College, and Amy Benfield, who also takes three Advanced Placement classes, works part time at a pizza place and tutors with her church on Tuesdays.

Both told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution they enjoy working with children.

Amy works in Julie Barnes' second-grade classroom with 22 pupils. She reads the story of the day and does the daily calendar lesson to help children learn days and numbers.

Across the building, Kristy works with a dozen third-graders.

"They adore her," teacher Dana Kitchens said of Kristy.

Rockdale students can apply to become teacher apprentices after they have completed an introductory class, which includes a teaching internship.

They are interviewed by the district's human resources department and must undergo a background check, the same as full-time teachers. They earn $7.92 an hour.