There are multiple pathways to become a classroom teacher. In our 15 year history, we’ve learned that teachers come from all walks of life and experience many challenges and triumphs as they launch new careers as educators. That’s why we’ve resumed our Alternate Route Teacher Candidate Spotlight blog series, featuring the stories of current Alternate Route teaching candidates and their paths to and through the Rutgers Alternate Route program.
For Alternate Route teaching candidate, Aquaus Kelley, the pathway to his classroom was motivated by his desire to help others.
After graduating in 2011 with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Communication from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Aquaus felt the desire to be of service to the world but was unsure how he was going to do it. While working at Home Depot, he received an unexpected email asking him two questions that would eventually change the entire trajectory of his life: “Looking for a new challenge? Want to make a difference?”
The email was an invitation to apply for City Year, an education nonprofit organization dedicated to helping students and schools succeed by partnering with public schools in 29 high-need communities across the United States. Aquaus was accepted to City Year in Miami, Florida. He worked as a 9th grade math interventionist and was provided with opportunities to grow his love of teaching while acquiring professional skills. He volunteered in the community and photographed many of the City Year Miami events. As one might expect, moving to a new city and starting a new job was not easy but he found the experience fulfilling.
Upon completing City Year, Aquaus returned to New Jersey and found himself in a similar position to the one he faced when he originally left - a desire to be of service to the world. But this time things were a little different; Aquaus knew how he would be of service. He would be a teacher. He spent time substituting and on August 29, 2017 Aquaus was hired as a 5th grader teacher in New Brunswick, NJ where he has been happily serving his students and community. Aquaus took the opportunity to move to Miami and participate in a life-changing service year because he was willing to try new challenges to make a difference. He made a difference in Miami and continues to make a difference through his work as a teacher in NJ.