Engineer from Fulton considers teaching career

Professionals bring knowledge to classroom, opportunity in online certification

About 12 years ago Kristen Fortman of Fulton was working as a mechanical engineer with Heizer Aerospace Inc., a Missouri-based aerospace firm located in Jefferson County near St. Louis.

The firm machines aluminum alloys, titanium and other exotic materials for the aerospace industry.

But when the contract for an aerospace project ended, the corporation did what many other aerospace firms do. It laid off numerous employees.

The skill and experience of the employees didn’t matter. The layoffs also included Fortman, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and was working in her field at the firm as a mechanical engineer.

Shortly thereafter, Fortman and her husband moved to Fulton after her husband got a job at the Callaway Energy Center.

Fortman became a stay-at-home mother then decided to become a substitute teacher in the Fulton School District. She’s taught in Fulton Middle School and in elementary schools.

“I’ve tried substitute teaching,” Fortman says, “and I like it.”

She wanted to become a full-time math and science teacher but that wasn’t possible because she did not have an education degree in Missouri.

She could gain teacher certification in her field by going back to college for two years. But that isn’t something she wants to do.

Fortman fits in a category that may solve a serious problem in Missouri secondary education — finding highly qualified experienced professionals to become math and science teachers in high schools.

Five years ago Missouri passed a law authorizing online teacher certification to qualified holders of college degrees in fields other than education.

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