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Milligan grad prepares for teaching career

After recently completing his master’s degree in education, Milligan College graduate Jason Teague is preparing to begin a career as an educator in the Johnson City School System. (Photo by Jason Mullins)

By Jason Mullins
Elizabethton Star

MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. (Dec. 27, 2011) — After recently completing his master’s degree in education, Milligan College graduate Jason Teague is preparing to begin a career as an educator in the Johnson City School System.

Teague and his family moved to the Tri-Cities in 1986. He enrolled as a student in the Johnson City School System, where he later graduated from Science Hill High School. He later completed his bachelor’s degree in business management at East Tennessee State University.

Teague said after graduating from ETSU, he moved to Rome, Ga., to work for General Shale Brick as a supervisor. “I was down there for a couple years. Although I enjoyed what I did, I decided those types of hours were just not for me. It was a very tough, very competitive industry,” Teague recalled.

In 2006, Teague moved back to Johnson City where he worked with his twin brother in starting a new business. “Our business was called O.C.D., which stood for Organize, Clean and Detail. It was a home restoration and handyman business.” It was during this time that Teague said he was led down his current career path.

“While we were running the business, we would have students from Science Hill co-op with us over the summer. It was just to give them a sense of what the business world was like and allow them to earn a paycheck,” said Teague. “I really enjoyed that part of it. It led me to decide to apply to be a substitute teacher in the school system in Johnson City.”

Teague worked as a substitute teacher for nine months. He recalls that he was given the opportunity to substitute teach at Northside Elementary School. “You always hear those horror stories about the very first day for a sub. In my case, it was true. The kids ate my lunch,” Teague joked. Despite a rough start, he said the experience still had a profound impact on him. Teague made the decision to enroll in the Master’s of Education program at Milligan.

In May of 2010, Teague started classes at Milligan. He said he chose the school because of the school’s national accreditation, the independence that their program gives to students and the overall program. “You’re actually in a classroom for a full year as an intern through the Milligan Program.”

Teague said the Milligan program is extremely demanding, but that it has given him the tools to be a quality educator. At the same time that he was doing his student teaching, Teague said he was also completing class work and preparing his thesis.

When he completed his internship at Northside, Teague began working at Mountain View Elementary School on King Springs Road in South Johnson City. In order to receive the job, he had to seek permission from his advisor at Milligan to graduate a week early.

After successfully applying for the academic tutor position at the school, Teague said a 3rd grade teaching position also opened up. He worried that by taking the job as a tutor, he had “shot himself in the foot. But I applied for the teaching job anyway.”

After interviewing for the position, he received a call from Mountain View’s principal offering Teague the job. Although he was extremely happy to have won the job, he said it is still pretty rare to find a male teacher in the nine Johnson City elementary schools. He noted there are currently only 15 male teachers in Kindergarten through 6th grade.

Despite the disparity between male and female elementary school educators, Teague said he believes it gives him an advantage. “You get a different response from the kids. You don’t take advantage of it, but you do use your presence in the classroom to help your other teachers,” Teague said.

Citing the socio-economic status of Northside and Mountain View Elementary Schools, Teague said that many students come from single-parent homes. “We also have 88 percent of our students at Mountain View who are below the poverty level. A lot of these children don’t have a dad at home. They don’t have that positive male role model in their lives. When they come in and see you here consistently and you’re an authority figure to them, it changes them. It also changes you,” said Teague.

Teague started teaching full-time at Mountain View just a couple weeks ago. He said he has truly enjoyed it and that he has received a warm welcome from the faculty and staff.

When the students return from Christmas break, Teague will be teaching 3rd grade math, science and social studies. He is one of six teachers on the 3rd grade level at Mountain View.

When asked about his future career plans, he said that his ten-year goal is to become a principal. “I’m probably going to teach for the next year or two to get my feet wet. It will also give me a chance to get a better grasp on the new teacher evaluation process,” Teague said.

“You hear a lot about tenure. They’ve basically done away with tenure in Tennessee schools since we accepted ‘Race to the Top’ funds. This new evaluation model means we’re scored six times a year now by either the principal or a supervisor in the school system. I want to get an understanding of it before I continue to move forward in my career,” said Teague.

The Milligan graduate said he will likely enroll at Lincoln Memorial University to pursue his doctorate. “I’m 32 right now. I’m shooting to have my doctorate completed by the time I’m 36 and to be a principal by the time I’m 40. That’s my goal.”

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MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY is a Christian liberal arts university in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The university offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan University, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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