Career Transition Coach for Teachers

Helping you leave teaching for a new career you love

As a teacher career transition coach, my mission is to help you understand your worth on the job market and to learn to tell that story persuasively so that you get a job where you’re valued and respected. It’s also important to me that you are able to shift emotionally because leaving teaching can be scary and sad and challenge your identity.

My Story

I started my career as a classroom teacher, teaching English at a Title I high school. I loved so much about the job — it was creative, I was challenged, I loved the kids, and I could see I was making a difference in the world. 

But a whole host of issues (that you are probably familiar with!)  led me to wonder what else I could do. 

I didn’t feel respected on the job, and I was required to work more hours than I was being compensated for — by a long shot. 

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pParents were allowed to call and harrass me if their child wasn’t making the grades they were expecting. I couldn’t fathom how this could happen again and again without any recourse. Sound familiar?

Administrators pressured us to teach to the test, sapping much of the joy I got from designing lessons and teaching the kids.

Even as an expert teacher — I had National Board Certification and I was doing professional development work, training other teachers — there was no room for career growth.

All my degrees were in education and I was feeling boxed in. I had no idea what else a teacher could even do besides teaching. So what did I do? I went and got another degree in education. Ugh.

I was admitted to a doctoral program at Columbia University and for the next six years I pursued that degree and taught at the college level. That work led to my first book, but upon graduating, I found myself right where I started career-wise. I felt prepared to do a very narrow set of things — namely, teaching, writing, and researching — and the outlets for me to do those things were sparse.

The starting salary for a college professor was barely more than I made as a K-12 teacher, and the jobs available were in geographic locations where I didn’t want to live.

To say I was panicking is an understatement. I felt like I’d painted myself in a corner. The same issues that contributed to my choice to leave the classroom like little professional respect, exploitative hours and pay, and no upward mobility kept me from returning to classroom teaching.

Then a lifeline miraculously appeared. I learned about a fellowship for recent graduate students that would provide a pathway into federal civil service, applied, and found myself moving to Washington DC for a job in the U.S. Department of Education working on education policy.

In DC my eyes were opened to the myriad of options for someone like me with an education background. I made it my mission to have coffee one time a week with someone in the education field I admired: the woman who created the first HIV-positive character for Sesame Street. The woman on Capitol Hill who was credited with getting rid of No Child Left Behind and getting passed the Every Student Succeeds Act. Obama’s education department’s Chief of Staff. Lobbyists for the NEA and AFT making a real difference for teachers on the ground. Advocates across pretty much every education nonprofit. Those doing education work in international development, providing access to learning in humanitarian crises.

I did volunteer work as a chair of the Education Task Force of Women in Government Relations and later served on their board. Through working with education lobbyists, advocates, and activists across every issue area within the education space, I came to understand how education policy worked on an intimate level. I worked as an education policy advisor in the U.S. Senate and in the White House budget office’s education unit.

My background and interest in tech eventually led me back to the Department of Education to lead the development of their open data portal. This is a role for which I had no formal preparation, no degrees, no certification, no experience. In order to pivot, I relied on what I had learned since leaving the classroom: that people are happy to help, that everyone is always learning, and how to draw on available resources to get the job done. The ramping up period was much shorter than I expected, and once I got over some initial feelings of incompetence (feelings I was beginning to embrace as signs of growth and positive change rather than evade) I found so much new freedom. 

I now work as a data scientist in the IT sector (again, without any preparation or qualification beyond the experience I gained in that first role in tech). In large part, I draw on my education background and skills as a teacher in the role — communicating highly technical information across stakeholder groups, leading large-scale projects, and managing people. Perhaps it’s surprising, but I could argue that everything I excel at at work I can trace back to skills and knowledge gained as a teacher.

And while I look back on my career full of exciting and impactful opportunities, I can see quite clearly there was a more direct line to the career I have now in information technology — one I enjoy more, feel respected in, and enjoy much more healthy compensation.

It’s my mission to help you see that direct line, too. You can pivot into any industry, and I can show you how. 

My Values & Beliefs

Giving back to teachers

Teachers give so much of themselves to educate, inspire, and care for kids. My respect for teachers is immeasurable and I love working with them and supporting their dreams as a teacher career coach.

Emotional Intelligence

Recognizing and managing your own emotions and managing interactions by understanding others’ feelings and behaviors are key to your success transitioning careers and beyond. I’m trained in Nonviolent Communication and can help you to build your emotional intelligence.

Countering gender oppression and systemic racial injustice

I want to see you succeed in spite of the racist and discriminatory workplace culture developed from patriarchal, colonialist, white supremacist foundations and as a teacher career transition coach, I  work to help you navigate racist and discriminatory hiring practices and workplace cultures. 

My Approach

My approach as a teacher career coach stems from my experience and education as a teacher — scaffolding learning so that you’re challenged to think and act in new ways, but never feel overwhelmed. It’s important to me to make sure you don’t feel lost or in over your head when you’re working with me to find a new career after teaching. 

I also coach with empathy and humor. We all have blind spots and I strive to shine a light on what you can’t see and challenge you to break old patterns so you stop standing in the way of what you want. That’s hard work, and I think it’s important to treat you with warmth and compassion while you’re overcoming the emotional hurdles that come along with changing careers. 

Podcast cover with woman

How to Leave Teaching: the What’s Next Teacher Podcast

  • What’s Next Teacher Podcast

Yes, you have options. Let’s start with your questions!

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