“The process will get you so discouraged and burned out, you’ll be looking for something else to do.”

Dawn Roy has long had a passion for teaching. She began teaching early on by tutoring other students in high school. Roy explains: “I always felt like there was more than one way to teach something. I like to be creative and figure out a way for you to understand it.” 

She describes: “I wanted students to be able to, one, understand that there is more than one way to learn it and, two, I didn’t want students to feel like a failure… I saw my own kids struggle. And I just wanted to see how creative I could be to help them understand whatever it was they thought they couldn’t.”

Roy has both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in education. But despite her passion for education, she’s been frustrated by the difficulty in both obtaining teaching certifications as well as transferring certifications between different states and even school districts.

Roy believes it’s important for teachers to show their knowledge and teaching ability, but says that the system is overly complicated and costly: “All states claim to have teacher shortages, but they make it impossible for teachers to move from state to state. It was never easy. I thought when states reciprocated it would be a quick and easy process. It’s not! Every state requires all the same documentation — pay for transcripts from every college you attended, not just where you got your degree, all your Praxis test scores, etc. It costs a lot to be a teacher. Tests are about $150 each.”

Roy has tried to work in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas, but she has repeatedly returned to real estate as an alternative work option. As she put it, “The process will get you so discouraged and burned out, you’ll be looking for something else to do.”

When Roy first moved to Mississippi, her plan was to transfer her teaching license because the state reciprocates with Arkansas. She explained: “I thought it would be easy… When I was trying to transfer, the Board kept saying they never got my transcripts for any of my colleges. It turns out all were there, and I didn’t know at that time. I was upset because it had been over a month, and all my colleges had received my payment and verified my transcripts were sent. I had a job pending for a month which I lost. Because of this, I was unemployed for eight months. I finally got the issue resolved and went back to teaching.”

Roy says that even if she wanted to teach in another school district in Mississippi, she would have to have all her transcripts sent, even though she’s certified in the state of Mississippi.

It shouldn’t be so hard to work in one’s profession. Roy says she wishes she could go and get a job teaching without having to retake tests. She describes that some states make them so hard that it’s almost impossible to pass the first time — making teachers take and pay for the tests over and over again so it feels like it’s just for making money, instead of competency.

Despite all her frustrations, Roy says she has always gone back to teaching because she misses it too much. At the moment, Roy is again taking a step back from teaching and is instead tutoring kids during the pandemic to help supplement their education during this difficult time.

Occupational licenses can be important, but they shouldn’t keep trained professionals from doing their professions. Today, people tend to move much more often than in the past. States should work together to help teachers keep their certifications and not create barriers to work.


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