Erika Baker was one of 220 individuals attending Clayton County Public Schools’ new teacher orientation this week. The former banker-turned-educator will teach seventh-grade math at Forest Park Middle School. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)
JONESBORO — Erika Baker has been excited all week to kick-start her new career in education.
The former banker was one of 220 individuals to participate in Clayton County Public Schools’ new teacher orientation this week.
“I’ve been working on this for about 10 years,” said Baker.
She spent 14 years in banking while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in middle grades education. She said she turned down a promotion in management two years ago in order to focus full-time on her dream.
“I knew that this was my passion,” she said.
The single mother said she was guided by advice her own mother gave her years ago.
“My mom said, ‘do something that, if you didn’t get a paycheck and you woke up in the morning, you’d still want to do it,’” said Baker.
Baker will teach seventh-grade math at Forest Park Middle School when school starts Aug. 12. She returns to the district after nearly 25 years. She graduated in 1989 from Morrow High School.
“I believe in Clayton County,” she said.
She added that, while she does not have years of practical experience in the classroom, she can rely on her experiences in the banking industry and as a parent.
“Students are students wherever you go,” she said. “I’ve learned that every student — even though it’s not all day or every day — wants to learn. They all smile when they get the answer right, and they all try.”
The district is expected to fill more than 300 positions by the fall.
Spokesman David Waller said most of the positions were opened through natural attrition — teacher retirements and transfers. He said there are also fewer open positions than normal this year.
He said the hiring process is still underway with 91 employee contracts left to be completed. New hires will help make up a district workforce of roughly 6,000 employees.
Waller said job applicants, parents and students can find more information about the upcoming school year at www.clayton.k12.ga.us.
“We’re expecting a great year,” said Waller.