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Substitute Teaching Led Greta Fowler
to Seek New Career

By Ralph Derickson

 

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"While I was substituting, some of the other teachers suggested I consider getting into the TOP (Teacher Opportunity Program) then offered in the University of Kentucky College of Education."

-- Greta Fowler

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July 2, 2002 (Lexington, Ky.) -- When Greta Barnes Fowler moved to Lexington in 1998 to join her husband who had taken a job a year earlier at IBM, she could not find a job in her own field of biology and microbiology.

Fowler's mother, an elementary school teacher in Birmingham, Ala., suggested she try substitute teaching.

"I am so glad she suggested that," Fowler said.

"I just loved teaching and I never thought I would. I taught all over Fayette County," she added, "including Squires, Johnson and Clays Mill elementary schools."

"While I was substituting," she recalls, "some of the other teachers suggested I consider getting into the TOP (Teacher Opportunity Program) then offered in the University of Kentucky College of Education."

The TOP program allowed persons who wanted to change careers to complete educational requirements for a Kentucky teacher certificate while getting classroom experience serving as a teaching assistant, said the program's coordinator, Loretta Clark.

Clark also told Fowler about a financial assistance program from Columbia Gas, a company that supports efforts to put more minority teachers in classrooms.

Fowler received $10,000 in fellowship money from Columbia Gas and was a superb student, said Columbia Gas Chief Executive Officer Joe Kelley. "She'll make a wonderful classroom teacher," he commented.

Kelley and Fowler were also part of a human rights program supported by Columbia Gas. The company paid for a delegation of aspiring teachers to visit Poland for a week. The visit gave the teachers an intensive insight into the holocaust and they will be able to share that information in their classrooms.

Speaking of the TOPS program and Columbia Gas support, Fowler said, "It was a great experience. I feel so lucky to have found Miss Clark and then to have Columbia Gas provide scholarship support was just awesome."

Fowler, who has a bachelor's degree in biology and a master's degree in biology with a concentration in microbiology, earned her teaching certificate in 2 years.

She will begin her new full-time teaching career in a fifth grade classroom this fall in Lexington's Northern Elementary School.

"I'm so excited," she said. "It's just a perfect fit."


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