Serving Her Nation as She Serves Her Community

  • Becoming a teacher has always been the career goal of Lake County resident Janet Newell, ever since she was a student at Coyote Valley Elementary School in Middletown. The route she took to get there, however, came with some unique challenges.  

    After obtaining her bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education at California State University, Sonoma, Janet was ready to take the next steps to earn her teaching credential. However, Janet is also an active member of the National Guard. She had joined the United States Armed Forces in January 2015 while working on her degree. 

    Janet needed to find something local, flexible, and affordable to continue her education – and the program that fit her needs was the Lake County Office of Education’s (LCOE) teaching credential program known as “Teach Lake County” (TLC). 

    TLC is a program in partnership with the Mendocino County Office of Education that provides training, coaching, mentorship and certification pathways to support new teachers and those looking to get their teaching credential. The program is located right here in Lake County. 

    When Janet started the program, she immediately started working as a high school teacher at the Clearlake Creativity School, an LCOE-run school, in Clearlake. 

    But after completing her first year of TLC’s two-year program, Janet had to put the pursuit of her teaching credential on hold.  

    The National Guard was deploying Janet to Afghanistan. 

    “I wasn’t able to attend classes while deployed. At the time when I left, they were still doing classes in person and not virtual,” Janet said. 

    During the pandemic, the TLC program pivoted to provide online/virtual classes to allow their student teachers to continue their education. 

    Janet was deployed for six months.  

    It was shorter than expected because we ended up closing down some locations,” Janet said. 

    When she returned, Janet was able to pick up right where she left off and continue her journey to becoming a teacher. 

    “Everyone throughout the program was completely flexible. Anytime I had an annual training with the National Guard and had to miss something, I was able to make it up,” Janet said. 

    In June 2021, she graduated from the program and obtained her Mild/Moderate Special Education Teaching Credential. 

    Unfortunately, Janet could not attend her in-person graduation because she was once again performing her duty to her country. Janet was completing required training for the National Guard at Camp Roberts, in Central California. 

    The Lake County Board of Education was able to present Janet with her certificate of complete at their June 23, 2021, Board of Education Meeting, before her training began. 

    “The number one factor in student success is their relationship with teachers,” Brock Falkenberg, Lake County Superintendent of Schools said. “Less turnover creates more consistent and stable teacher/student relationships. Students are more successful." 

    Before the launch of TLC, the nearest teaching credential program was in Santa Rosa or Sacramento. 

    Janet will be starting the new school year in August 2021 as a Special Day Class (SDC) teacher at Coyote Valley Elementary school, the same elementary school she attended.  

    For more information about TLC, visit their webpage.