The stories of an economist working in the publishing industry and an accountant/senior technical associate who took a sharp career turn with Teach For Bulgaria
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
A question painfully familiar to any child. And if we as children still have the innocence and enthusiasm to come up with the wildest answers, somewhere down the line our patience grows thin. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” also goes through various age-relevant transformations: “Where do you want to go to school?”, “Which university will you go to?”, “What do you want to major in?”, “What kind of jobs can you apply for with this major?”, etc.
As if people who ask these questions have never had any doubts or wondered what to do with their lives. This may be the case for some, but not all of us find our calling as children, and some of us find joy in this constant transformation itself. We, at Teach For Bulgaria, believe that a job is not a life sentence. A number of professionals with diverse backgrounds, who trusted us to help them change their careers in the past decade, are living proof and inspiration.
This is why we would like to tell the stories of two of our new participants in this article. They are currently part of our program A New Way to Teaching. Not only did they choose to change their careers, but they also had the courage to teach one of the most dreaded subjects at school – mathematics. If you’ve ever wondered how a person can become a math teacher without a degree in mathematics or teaching and why anyone would pick this job after a successful career in a different field, this article is for you!
Danail Raykov’s Story
Ecological economics and international economic relations, publishing, and now… mathematics at 75th Primary School in Fakulteta, Sofia
Danail graduated from the University of National and World Economy back in 2017 with a degree in ecological economics and international economic relations. Prior to joining Teach For Bulgaria’s program A New Way to Teaching, he worked for one of the oldest and largest publishing houses in Bulgaria. He worked at a bookstore for several years and then moved to the publisher’s distribution offices which supplied all bookstores from the chain in the country. Books have always been a major part of his life, but he gradually realized that “working at a computer in an office, account management, and the constant pursuit of revenue targets was not enough.” He realized that he needed to find a job which illustrated his values more accurately.
The decision to become a teacher was far from spontaneous for him:
“The idea was shaping up in my mind until I reached a point where I was certain that this was the right decision for the sake of my personal development. At Teach For Bulgaria I found the right place to make my dream come true.”
He also took inspiration from his mother who is a Bulgarian language and literature teacher.
“I learned how noble and meaningful this profession is from her. However, teaching is also one of the most demanding and underrated professions as well. I, personally, had the opportunity to attend good public schools in Sofia – 127th Secondary School “Ivan Nikolaevich Denkoglu” and the National High School of Commerce and Banking. My teachers at both schools were intelligent and devoted professionals who believed that teaching is a calling and not just a job. I wish more students had this experience.”
Someone like Dani, who has a degree in economics and speaks many languages, can afford the luxury to choose from a variety of subjects to teach at school. Who made him choose math?
“It is strange, but after I was selected for the program, I had decided that I wanted to teach English. I could choose between mathematics and English and started the preliminary training thinking that I would become an English teacher. Why I changed my mind is a long story, but just like most of my colleagues, I found math quite intimidating at first. I had bad memories from school and I never thought that I was good at it. Perhaps this is why I am excited to rediscover math right now. As a teacher now I know how enjoyable, engaging, and accessible mathematics can be. By planning my lessons so that they are interesting to a diverse group of students, I realize just how widely applicable mathematics can be. I try to demonstrate this to my students. I don’t want them to neglect mathematics because they “don’t know how it will help them in real life”.”
Vasilena Dincheva’s Journey
Industrial management and experience as an accountant/senior technical associate, and now… a math teacher at 27th Secondary School “Acad. G. Karaslavov” in Lyulin, Sofia
Vasilena graduated from the Technical University of Sofia in 2004 and has since worked as an accountant and senior technical associate. Her decision to go back to the classroom was inspired by a devastating loss.
“I lost my mother at the beginning of 2020. I had to find something that would keep my head above water, but even more than that. I wanted to reinvent myself, to do something that I would be proud of and that my mom would also be proud of – something that would make a difference in the world that we live in. I thought about what I can do and what I love doing, what I dreamed of as a child, and what I’d like to accomplish in the future. It all boiled down to me becoming a teacher. I see that children nowadays are headed in a direction detrimental to their future. I’d like to help and change their future.
Vasilena chose to become a teacher via Teach For Bulgaria’s program A New Way to Teaching because she needed “the full support of a team of professionals, trainers, and coordinators, who dedicate their time and energy to accomplish our common goals.” She also adds:
“When we are together, I’ll have the opportunity to learn, think, analize, create, communicate, bear the responsibility, solve problems, and advance. I will be able to inspire and support children, help them grow, and lead them.
What is it like to teach math?
Vasilena encourages everyone who is currently considering teaching to just go ahead and do it. Here is what she thinks about the profession and what she recommends to her future colleagues:
“Today as a math teacher I have the opportunity to show my students that mathematics is fundamental, I can make it relevant for them, I can make our classes enjoyable, useful, meaningful, and positive. If you believe that you can inspire, then pursue your calling and start teaching. Teaching will undoubtedly help you find a new meaning in your life.”
If you’d like to change your career and work with people like Danail and Vasilena, consider joining A New Way to Teaching.