Former teachers inspire Santiago and Doran to choose “180 Days in Springfield” and careers teaching

It was Interview Day, the culminating stage in the admissions process for students planning to enter the College of Education’s TEACH 180 Days in Springfield Pathway to teacher licensure.  Anthony Santiago of Springfield, a senior at UMass Amherst majoring in biology, and Maurice Doran, also from Springfield and an English major at UMass, had their fingers crossed. They both hoped to impress the interviewers and be selected to do their student teaching at the urban schools of their choice when they entered “180 Days” in the fall as graduate students.

[photo: Maurice Doran (left) and Anthony Santiago (right) will enter 180 Days in Springfield Pathway to teacher licensure this fall.]

Santiago hoped that he would do well in his interview because he now knew, after having had a change of heart about a career path, that he wanted to follow in the footsteps of two people he admired: his father and a high school teacher who had also been in “180 Days.” In fact, he was hoping that he would be assigned to teach at the school where he had spent his high school years: Springfield Central High.

Santiago, who had initially wanted to become a medical doctor and had taken courses with a career in medicine in mind, said that he eventually realized that he was not “wholeheartedly into medicine.” It was on a visit back to his old school, Springfield Central, that he engaged in a conversation about his future with the school’s principal and realized that teaching was exactly what he wanted to do.

“The principal reminded me about 180 Days,” Santiago said. “I had an English teacher in my sophomore year who was a 180 Days teacher, and I remembered how much I learned that year. I decided I wanted to do 180 Days. Plus, my father is in education. He ran for School Committee in Springfield. He had a drive for education and I feel it runs off on me.”

For Doran, the influence of his 7th grade teacher affected his decision to apply to enter 180 Days.  “Ms. Powers was a 180 Days teacher here at Chestnut Accelerated Middle School,” he said, “and I never forgot her.”

But for both students, there was another reason to consider becoming teachers through ‘180 Days’.

“Yeah, it’s a one year program,” interjected Santiago, and the two friends laughed.

“It’s also about going back to our roots in a way,” Doran said. “We both went to Springfield public schools. It’s a system that they say doesn’t live up to expectations. But we’re both coming out of it successfully. So, I’d like to stay in Springfield and teach here at Chestnut.”

 Santiago and Doran both feel that they will have a positive impact on students as teachers in urban schools because they understand the particular set of circumstances urban students face.

“We’ve been there,” said Santiago. “I know urban education is a challenge, but what better way to learn about yourself than to face something that is difficult?”

“In an urban school, I can have an experience with students that was like the one I had. I can inspire them to want more,” said Doran. “I know this sounds corny, even saying it sounds corny, but I just like to help people. I can do that in 180 Days.”

The TEACH 180 Days in Springfield Pathway is a one-year, 36-credit pathway leading to a master’s degree and teacher licensure at the middle or high school level. It is offered by the College of Education in partnership with the Springfield, Massachusetts school district. TEACH 180 Days in Springfield combines graduate course work with full time teaching at one of several urban schools in Springfield.

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