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Every school district in the country could use more teachers like Germaine Santistevan-Watts.
In her 50’s, looking for a new career after being laid off from the travel industry, Germaine earned her teaching license; and her students at John E Flynn A Marzano Academy are the beneficiaries. She brings a love of her students, the joy of learning and the enthusiasm of a 25-year-old to her own classroom.
“It’s a lot of work being a teacher, but it’s also very rewarding,” she said recently after a full day teaching. “I encourage other people to consider it.”
Germaine’s journey to becoming a full-time teacher started when she began volunteering in her grandson’s classroom, because she had extra time on her hands after being laid off. She loved it so much she got her Associate’s Degree from Front Range Community College so she could work as a lead teacher at the preschool level. Next up, Metropolitan State University and certification as a teacher.
“It was kind of strange being in my 50’s with a classroom full of 20-year-olds, but it felt like something I really wanted to do,” she reflected. “I wanted to make a change, and my family was very supportive.”
Her story was included in a CBS4 news segment about the district’s efforts to help WPS employees earn their teaching certificate while addressing the nationwide teacher shortage. You can read more about the district program here. (link to story)
Germaine grew up in the WPS district and says she feels like she is really giving back to her community. She also believes there are some added benefits to becoming a teacher later in life. “I feel like because I was a parent I have a real sense of the struggles of children and bringing a real sense of compassion to the classroom.” She begins every day by greeting students at the door and ends the day by telling them she can’t wait to see them tomorrow.
“I tell them, ‘you are going to be okay here,’” she adds.
This year’s Westminster High School graduation ceremony will be a special one.
As she watches her grandson Josiah walk across the stage to get his diploma, she will be more than a proud grandmother, she will also be an educator helping a whole new generation of young people step into their future.