ARCARC Graduates News

ARC Graduates News

Professionals Find Fulfillment, Give Back Through Non Traditional Teaching Path

David Autencios educational journey was never a smooth one. However he always had teachers who inspired him along the way. Their influence motivated Autencio to make a life altering decision at the age of 39 leaving behind his carpentry career to pursue teaching. Today he proudly teaches grade at Oakdale Elementary School in Montville.

“School was a challenge for me ” Autencio admits. “So after spending a semester at Avery Point I found work in carpentry which came naturally to me. However down inside teaching remained an unfulfilled aspiration.”

Autencio represents a growing cohort of educators who choose teaching as their career. Connecticut offers an Alternative Route to Certification program tailored for individuals with existing college degrees who wish to expedite their certification process. Established in 1988 this program provides teacher training that includes valuable student teaching experience. It caters to adults with expertise in various fields who seek an accelerated path towards becoming certified teachers.

In 2007 when faced with the dilemma of relocating or potentially losing his job as a scientist, at Pfizer Mike Wuenscher took stock of his prospects and contemplated what lay ahead in his career trajectory. With my children attending school I didn’t want to leave Stonington. I also wanted to step away from the corporate world. Pfizer offered me career guidance and a severance package giving me the opportunity to take some time and assess my options.

I had a desire to pursue something I truly enjoyed doing. The idea of working for a paycheck didn’t appeal to me if I could avoid it. After consideration I made the decision to pursue teaching and enrolled in the intensive summer session of the Alternative Route to Certification Program in 2008. A day before the start of the school year I was fortunate enough to be hired as a science teacher at Killingly High School. Now as I enter my third year on the job there is still so much for me to learn.

Teaching has proven to be one of the challenging endeavors I’ve ever taken on both in terms of hard work and financial compensation. However it aligns with my aspirations more than any other profession.

Curtis Williams also shares a journey as he embarks on his second year as a math teacher at Kelly Middle School in Norwich. Like myself Curtis transitioned from his pharmaceutical career. Now puts in tremendous effort, for less pay. Teaching has always been his calling.

Giving back through education was always part of Curtis plan; “I wanted to contribute by making an impact through teaching ” he shared. Williams mentioned that teaching school math was a perfect fit for him. He believed that the middle school level was crucial as it provided an opportunity to be role models for children in that age group.

In todays landscape motivating students can be challenging, according to Williams. However he expressed his desire to make a difference by helping one struggling student considering it a measure of success. All three individuals considered themselves fortunate to have secured teaching positions amidst the backdrop of teacher layoffs. Autencio specifically mentioned that there were 250 applicants vying for his job.

Before being hired this year Autencio worked as a substitute teacher in the Montville school system for two years. Interestingly he is not a product of the same Montville school system but also has one child who has already graduated from Montville High School and two others currently attending.

Autencio pursued certification by attending classes full time at Eastern Connecticut State University since he didn’t possess a college degree which made him ineligible for ARC (unspecified reference). It’s worth noting that many ARC teachers possess expertise in their respective subject areas. For instance Wuenscher holds a doctorate, in microbiology. He mentioned that coming up with content is never a problem for him but the real challenge lies in creating an environment that encourages teenagers to engage with the content.

“I quickly discovered that no matter how well planned your lessons are, if you can’t effectively manage the classroom and keep students interested it won’t make a difference ” he explained. “Being a manager and attentive listener is crucial.”

The true reward according to him is witnessing the transformation of a student who previously showed no interest in science becoming fully engaged in the subject.

Andrew Rockett, Principal of Killingly High School truly understands the difficulties faced by individuals who enter teaching as a career. Teaching became his profession after completing the ARC program in 1997. Prior to teaching Rockett worked as a deckhand at sea held an officer position at a bank and practiced law. His decision to become an educator stemmed from his desire to spend time with his young children. In addition to these experiences he has served as a Navy reservist for 28 years. Spent nine years on his local board of education.

Rockett emphasizes that these diverse experiences have equipped him with skills necessary for his role as principal on a daily basis. According to Rocketts belief for schools to thrive successfully they require staff members, from backgrounds bringing varied perspectives. Educators with experience in different fields contribute significantly to the overall mix but they also rely on the support and expertise of seasoned teachers. According to Rockett having a staff in every aspect plays a vital role, in building a stronger school.

Jayson Peterson is an experienced pharmacist, naturopathic physician, medical examiner, and minister. After earning his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the Medical University of South Carolina, Jayson Peterson completed clinical rotations at several prestigious healthcare institutions and has been affiliated with several pharmacy chains throughout his career. His main passion and zeal is focused on providing world-class patient care by giving precise details and thorough instructions to those who need it most.


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