by Kari Croop
David Sousa (M.Ed. ’06) had always intended to become a teacher. But it actually took more than 30 years to make it happen, thanks to a career track that led him to Rhode Island’s Providence College to study mathematics as an undergrad, on to the University of Notre Dame for a master’s degree and then straight into the private sector to design industrial software for companies like Eastman Kodak and Mobil Chemical.
By 2002, he had been running his own small software company for nearly a decade, and the idea of teaching had long fallen by the wayside. But when Sousa’s wife was offered a job with an Atlanta-based medical technology firm that would require extensive travel abroad just as their son was about to start kindergarten, it seemed like a good time to make a career change.
Enter Georgia State University’s TEEMS program (short for Teacher Education in English, ESOL, Mathematics, Middle Level Education, Social Studies and Science), which allowed Sousa to transition from the corporate world into the classroom in less than two years and gain teaching experience while earning his master’s in education.
“It really helped to be able to do it in such a short time,” says Sousa, who was hired after graduation to teach math in Norcross, Ga., at Meadowcreek High School, one of the most diverse schools in the state. “And I don’t regret making the change. The truth is, most of the software I wrote when I was in the private sector probably isn’t in use anymore. But teaching is a whole different thing. Who knows when you might change somebody’s life?”
Indeed, when it comes to education, some of the best moments come when you’re least expecting them. Like the time a former student knocked on Sousa’s door to tell him she got a perfect score on the math portion of the state’s high school graduation test.
“She wanted to tell me that,” he recalls. “And that was rewarding because she thought enough about me to let me know that she thought I’d contributed.”
This story was originally published in the Spring 2011 issue of the College of Education's Milestones magazine.