The Road to Teaching

By Craig Stone — September 01, 2004 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Will you still need me when I’m 64?

When it comes to hiring teachers, Houston’s Clear Creek Independent School District’s answer to that question is yes.

Sexagenarian Pauline Trout has had local and state education reporters in Texas spilling ink over her unlikely story as the 64-year-old mother of four (and grandmother of five) began a new career this fall as a teacher.

With alternative-certification programs growing and some schools widening their net to attract nontraditional teacher candidates, Ms. Trout’s story exemplifies changing perceptions on who new teachers can be.

After substituting in the district since 2000, Trout was hired by Armand Bayou Elementary school as a 5th grade reading and social studies teacher. “When I started substituting I said, ‘You know, I really want to be a school teacher. I really like this,’” Trout told the Houston Chronicle, in a recent article.

Ms. Trout’s road to teaching, like many others, has been an eclectic one. Before coming to teaching, the Chronicle notes, she had been a hairdresser, a school librarian, ran her own quilt making business, and taught painting. After getting a degree in social work in 2002, she assisted the elderly at a nursing home.

“I knew lots of things but I didn’t have that piece of paper,” she said in reference to a teaching license. To fill that gap, she enrolled in an alternative certification program at the University of Houston-Clear Lake in 2003.

Harriet Sturgeon, director of the center for professional development of teachers at UHCL told the local Galveston Daily News that Trout “thinks like a young person. She’s so open to new ideas and wants to learn. I would like my own child in her class.”

In the same article, Trout told the Daily News, “I’ve always been teaching … I’ve always been showing somebody how to do something.”

According to the Chronicle, Trout got the job at Armand Bayou through a recommendation from her daughter-in-law, also a teacher.

Via e-mail, Bayou’s Principal Jane Kelling told CAREER COACH, “Ms. Trout has brought a maturity to the classroom that can’t be earned through college classes. Just as our experiences add the ‘color’ to our lives, Pauline’s life experiences enrich her teaching. In turn, her students benefit from her vast knowledge of the world and perhaps, along the way, they will also appreciate the mature wisdom she imparts.”

Though the road to teaching has been circuitous, Trout knew from her first day in the classroom that she was where she was supposed to be. “I knew this is what I want to do. I don’t care who’s here. I want to teach. That’s the way it is. If I can do anything to help these kids, I’ll do it,” she told the Chronicle.

“I feel very lucky the principal believed in me and hired me,” she added.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP