WRITTEN BY MICHELLE DZISIAK • 3 min

Michelle is a Marketing Specialist with a background as a classroom teacher.

teacher certification program student samantha chase

Does the thought of smiling students and a cozy classroom of your own make your heart flutter? If so, we’ve got some stories that will make it burst! 

We’re creating a world where every student has the chance to experience the power of a great teacher. That’s why we’re showcasing our very own Teacher Certification Program students and their journeys to becoming incredible teachers. We’re getting up-close and personal to share their stories, what led them to teach, and their experiences in the classroom.

This month we’re featuring Samantha Chase. Samantha is a former marine biologist who is on track to becoming a teacher in Hawai’i through Teach Away’s Teacher Certification Program. She’s also a member of a military family and was the first-ever recipient of our Hawai’i scholarship.

“The thing I look forward to the most is watching my students get excited when they understand a certain scientific concept! I also love seeing them encourage and cheer on their classmates.”

Let’s dive in to hear about Samantha’s experience with Teach Away’s Teacher Certification Program and her adventures in the world of teaching!

What drew you to pursue a career in teaching? Was this a lifelong dream or a new interest?

Teaching was my second choice career path. In high school, I thought that teaching would be a great career choice for me because I enjoy teaching and I have always been told that I am good with kids! However, I was also in love with the ocean so I decided to get a marine biology degree in hopes of pursuing my dream job of being a dolphin trainer. After college, I trained dolphins for 5 years in Mexico and California. When I moved to Hawaii I knew it was time to move on to a different career path, so I decided to try and become a teacher!

Why did you decide to take an alternative route to become a licensed teacher instead of the traditional education path? 

I decided to take an alternative route instead of the traditional education path because the alternative route offered so much more flexibility. Being able to get the coursework done online has been life-changing because it allowed me to work a full-time job while obtaining my license. Another big reason was the cost; the alternative route was so much more affordable than the traditional path. Getting my license would not have been possible without Teach Away. 

How was your decision to enroll in an alternate certification program influenced by your role as a US military spouse and as someone working in another career? 

My husband’s military career is what brought us to Hawai’i. I left my previous job and moved to Hawai’i during COVID without having any other job lined up. After deciding to go for my license, I had a hard time finding out how I was going to obtain licensure. Most other programs I found took years, and I knew that we could be moving again before I had obtained my license. Therefore, finding Teach Away was incredible because I realized that it was possible to obtain a license in less than a year. It was convenient, affordable, and flexible… the complete package!

Has your alternate route to certification been manageable while juggling your other responsibilities? 

Yes! Doing the Teach Away coursework has absolutely been manageable while struggling with other responsibilities. There’s definitely been weeks where it is hard and I feel pretty busy, but it is definitely doable. I am currently working as a full-time emergency hire teacher, coaching gymnastics nine hours a week, and doing my clinical placement along with the Teach Away online coursework. It is a lot, but it is very doable and I cannot stress enough how amazing it has been to be able to get my licensure done so quickly. I even still have some free time to hang out with my husband and explore the island!

As the first-ever TCP scholarship award recipient, what did the scholarship mean to you and would you recommend applying for one?

The scholarship meant the world to me and I am so grateful! The only thing that was holding me back from going for my license was the cost. The scholarship from Teach Away made the program so much more affordable and I would 100% recommend applying for it!

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far? 

The most valuable thing that I have learned is how to reach a multitude of different types of students. Teach Away taught me strategies for how to best help students with special needs, students who speak different languages, students who are not motivated, and so much more! These strategies will help me immensely throughout my teaching career.

Was there a teacher in your life who inspired you? If so, who was it and what impact did they have on you? 

Yes! His name was Mr. Tonelli and he taught Sociology. He was one of those teachers who made you excited to attend his class every day! He also showed each individual student how much he cared about them and their success. 

What area of teaching are you specializing in? Why did you choose it?

I am specializing in science. I chose science because I already have a biology degree and I am very interested in all different types of science. 

Are you currently working in a teaching capacity? If so, could you tell us a little bit about your experience teaching so far? 

Yes, I am currently working as an emergency hire science teacher. My experience has actually been pretty amazing. I love my job and I am confident that I made the right choice by switching to teaching. I love working with my students and I love watching them succeed. It has been a little hard getting started, but I am learning and getting better each day. 

What is your favorite thing about working with students and/or what is the thing that you’re most looking forward to when you are in a classroom?

My favorite thing about working with students is getting to know them and finding ways to best engage each student individually. The thing I look forward to the most is watching my students get excited when they understand a certain scientific concept! I also love seeing them encourage and cheer on their classmates. 

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about getting certified to teach? 

The advice that I would give someone who is thinking about getting certified to teach would be to take the leap and do it! I know that it is scary and there are lots of reasons that hold you back, but it is such a rewarding and fun career and it is so worth it! In my experience, the entire process has been amazing from start to finish and I would do it again in a heartbeat. 

Are there any final notes, thoughts, or comments you’d like to add?

I  would just like to say that the entire staff has been so supportive and helpful throughout this process. They have answered all of my questions and they are very clear and informative. I am very grateful!

Are you thinking about becoming a teacher or making a career change?

Start your teaching career today! Learn more about our online teacher certification program and jumpstart your career.