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Spring 2004
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TEACHING CAN BE A LONELY BUSINESS. "Sometimes you're in there all day with 140 or 160 kids and you're wondering, does anybody care about me, is anybody thinking about me?" says Doug Waybright, principal at Carson High School.

TEP provides new teachers with a support system that helps them overcome that sense of isolation, hone their craft and develop coping mechanisms to deal with daily struggles. Second-year students, who teach in one of four Los Angeles-area school districts, work under the guidance of field supervisors and faculty advisers — all former teachers who themselves have gone through the same struggles.

"Once a week, someone would come in and check on me and see if I needed anything," says David Swanson '00, M.Ed. '03, now in his second year of teaching math at Fremont High School in South-Central Los Angeles. "You could just talk about a student being horrible or acting up, or curriculum ideas, like, 'I really need to teach this lesson but I don't know how to do it.' It was a real comfort for me to know that if I needed them, they were there."

Building strong relationships with fellow faculty members is equally important. When Nancy Florez-Muro decided to go back to work after her second child started school, she enrolled in UCLA Extension's program leading to a multiple-subject teaching credential. Florez-Muro started teaching immediately with an intern credential at Lake Center Middle School in Santa Fe Springs. Nights and weekends, she attended classes at Extension, which offers as many as 1,000 courses annually to keep teachers updated on materials and new teaching methodologies. There, she forged bonds with classmates who were traveling the same bumpy road as she was, learning to teach math to rambunctious middle schoolers.

"Everybody didn't always have an answer, but we helped each other figure a way through," Florez-Muro says. "If you stay in your own classroom and you don't network, you could end up thinking, 'I am not worth anything.' It's that collegial support that really gets you through," she says.

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