First year Gwinnett teacher: He gave up accounting to teach special education. Kids need role models.

Many people fret over the future of teaching in the face of dwindling enrollment in teacher prep programs. Teachers themselves increasingly report reluctance to urge others to consider the profession due to the challenges. None of that dissuaded Reginald Hairston, a 39-year-old former accountant who begins teaching Monday in a special education classroom at Grayson High School in Gwinnett County.

Hairston grew up in New York, the son of two special education teachers. He studied accounting at Morehouse College, working for United Parcel Service, Georgia-Pacific and NAPA. But a few years ago, he could no longer resist the pull toward the classroom, attending Georgia Gwinnett College to obtain a degree in special education and a teacher’s certificate. Hairston was part of an original cohort of five students in a pilot program between Georgia Gwinnett College and Gwinnett County Public Schools that enabled him to work full-time as a paraprofessional, including at Grayson in the Autism IV unit. “These experiences with the students, faculty and administration coupled with the course work provided by Georgia Gwinnett College School of Education were invaluable to prepare me for my current role as Inter Related Resource Algebra I teacher,” he says.

But hear the story from Hairston himself in this video interview  with me and AJC multimedia journalist Erica Hernandez. You will be delighted that such a bright guy chose to become a Georgia teacher:


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