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'We have people coming from the energy industry, technology, science fields' | HISD pushes Alternative Certification Program amid teacher shortage

Alternative Certification Programs offer people looking to switch careers and others a fast track to the classroom.

HOUSTON, Texas — Ortiz Middle School near Hobby Airport is where Houston native Brittany Dominguez “landed” after deciding to become a teacher.

“I’m going into my second year this fall,” said Dominguez.

The 7th-grade language and literature teacher had an unconventional start after finishing college in Minnesota.

“I was a sociology/anthropology major and, so, for a little while I thought about kind of going into sociology and anthropology and writing and things like that," said Dominguez.  "But ultimately, decided that the thing I wanted to do most was to go into education and be a teacher.”

She got certified through Houston ISD’s Alternative Certification Program which puts people seeking to switch careers and others on a fast track to the classroom.

RELATED: 2 of Texas' 3 biggest school districts navigating teacher shortage ahead of upcoming year

Right now, HISD is waiving application fees, reimbursing the $4,700 overall program cost and offering stipends of up to $5,000 for bilingual, special education, math and other critical shortage areas.

That’s on top of the district’s new starting teacher salary of $61,500.

"We have persons coming from the energy industry, technology, science fields,” said HISD ACP Recruiter Conya Barreras.

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She said the program includes intensive classroom training and ongoing support during the first year of teaching.

"We want everyone to be aware that, yes, we are in need of teachers," said Barreras.  "But we’re in need of quality persons coming into the program to teach our children.”

People like Ms. Dominguez, who won a beginning teacher of the year award after her first year.

"It doesn’t matter what walk of life you’re coming from, what career you’re coming from, what school you’re coming from," said Dominguez.  "The program makes it very easy for you to feel supported and to transfer into this new career.”

It's a career she can’t imagine leaving anytime soon.

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