Teaching is a very rewarding career path. It is also one that some people end up in unexpectedly. The Para-to-Pro scholarship program is a partnership between the Midway ISD Education Foundation and Midway Independent School District Human Resources Department which provides a scholarship to current teacher aides, also known as “paraprofessionals”, to help them return to school to obtain alternate certification and become a full teacher of record. The three recipients of the first scholarship to date are Gretchen Lamborn of Woodway Elementary, Paul Langenfeld of Midway High School, and Sheri Varney of Midway High School.
For Gretchen Lamborn, teaching has always been the end goal; although her degrees are in Social Science (A.S.: Honors) and History, specifically U.S. (B.A.: Arizona State ‘15, Summa Cum Laude). After moving from California to Waco, Gretchen learned of this position through a family friend who knew of her ambition to teach in Texas. Gretchen saw this opportunity to get her foot in the door and get to know people in Texas. Speaking of Midway, she stated “I could say I didn’t choose Midway, they chose me and I am so very grateful. I have learned this is one of the best districts in Texas and I have been truly blessed to have the opportunity to work here”. With the Para-to-Pro scholarship, Gretchen is able to gain her Texas Teaching Credential and teach classes of her own! Expressing plans for the future, Gretchen stated “I would like to teach either Art at the K-6 level or History/Social Studies at the 4-8 Level. I am hoping to move to the Jr High level one day but I am loving what I do now. God has found the perfect thing for me and I am so grateful to Him and to everyone who have helped me begin my journey and aided me in developing my classroom skills”. We are immensely proud of you, Gretchen!
Speaking to Sherie Varney, teaching has been a passion for some time. Sherie began substitute teaching at Midway in 2014, when she knew she wanted to teach but had not completed her degree. Currently, Sherie is the permanent substitute teacher at Midway High School’s campus. Sherie chose Midway for reasons of familiarity. Her son graduated from Midway High School in 2011! Sherie was also an active member of the Midway Band Backers, working with band leadership since 2007. She stated, “This is where I discovered my love of working with this age group, and I knew that I wouldn’t want to teach anywhere but Midway”. As for her future plans, Sherie is taking the Social Studies composite exam in July, and hoping to teach History at Midway High School. The Para-to-Pro scholarship will allow her to gain her alternative teaching certification upon passing the test. Thank you for your dedication to Midway, Sherie! We know you will do amazing things as a teacher.
Paul Langenfeld has a similar story. Initially searching for college basketball jobs around the country, Paul and his wife decided staying in Waco was also a great option. Paul applied for the Para position as a tech assistant, as well as a volunteer assistant coach for the Midway High School Boys Basketball team and coach Matt Brown. “After being at Baylor for 3 years, I knew what an outstanding reputation Midway has in the community”. Paul said while elaborating on why he chose Midway School District. The Para-to-Pro scholarship will assist Paul in helping him “establish myself as both a teacher and a coach and will give me the opportunity to follow my passion of teaching young people and my dream of being a basketball coach”. We are very grateful to have Paul as a part of the Panther family and know he will continue to enrich our district and students in many ways!
Midway Independent School District is so blessed to be able to offer initiatives such as this scholarship to our staff. It would not be possible without the continued support of our gracious Education Foundation donors. We hope to continue this award for years to come. Congratulations again to our first year recipients!