BAY MINETTE, Ala. (WKRG) — Teaching was never Leona Rudolph’s first choice for a career. A University of West Alabama program is helping people like Rudolph change career directions and change kids’ lives.
“I was going into athletic training but it didn’t work out that way,” said Rudolph.
She has always been involved in mentoring young minds and earlier this year, an epiphany.
“After a while, I was like, you love this, like, why aren’t you doing this?”
Enter the University of West Alabama and a teacher residency program called Project Reach.
“Anyone who already holds a bachelors degree that is not in an education field, someone who received a business degree or anything but they want to pursue education then they can go and take this alternative,” said Associate Director of Project Reach Sara Reynolds. “A program that’s normally about 18 months to two years to complete and at the end, they receive their Masters and Class A certification.”
Candidates accepted into the program also receive a $45,000 stipend during the residency.
“A lot of times when they are already in a career they are not able to take that pay cut or to be without,” says Reynolds. “We provide them with a living wage stipend so they are able to go into that classroom and receive that online degree.”
Three candidates are already getting their on-the-job training in Baldwin County schools and according to Baldwin County Schools Human Resources Director Tiffany Wilson, that’s where they will stay once they finish the course.
“At the conclusion of their training, we are able to employ them for three years,” said Wilson.
Leona Rudolph says she has found her passion in the classroom.
“I’ve been able to actually leave my job and be financially secure doing what I love while I’m learning,” said Rudolph.
A win-win not only for Rudolph but for students in Baldwin County for years to come.
Project Reach is funded in part through a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Education and is currently active in three school districts statewide. For more information go to uwa.edu\projectreach or projectreach@UWA.edu