[CASE STUDY] Success Story of Deanna’s Career Transition from Classroom Teacher to Mathnasium Director

This case study highlights the success of Deanna Forsythe, a teacher from Wisconsin.

Deanna enrolled in my “Jumpstart Your Job Search Program” in late April 2017. She landed her new job as the Director of a Mathnasium Center in mid-June

This was, without a doubt, the quickest success I have seen as a Career Transition Coach!

I would like to take credit for it, but Deanna did the hard work. My program and our one-on-one consultations contributed to her success. She was responsible for her fast transition, though.

The average job search today, from start to finish, is generally four to nine months. Given that Deanna’s process from start to finish took place over seven weeks is definitely not the norm.

What I observed about Deanna was her positive, “go-getter” attitude. I am sure she was a phenomenal teacher. She has all the right characteristics for an outstanding educator. She is extremely organized; she was highly motivated and hyper- focused; and she was eager to be successful.

When she first approached me, Deanna expressed a combination of frustrations.

She felt that the system didn’t respect her expertise as an educator anymore. She had even changed from one position to another in hopes of a better situation. She was disappointed to find that that change didn’t fix the problem, however.


respect different opinion

Respect vs. Disrespect


She also felt that she had more to offer than was being used in her current situation. Hear in her own words what she wrote to me about what led her to seek out my services:

“I have been an educator for over 20 years, working in the private, public, and choice sectors.  I have supported children of varying ages, academic abilities, and behavioral needs.  Over that time, I noticed a profound shift in the field of education.  Demands placed on teachers continue to increase, Autonomy continues to decrease.   I recognized at that point that it was time to utilize my skill set from both my BS and MA in a way that was far more productive, meaningful, and fulfilling to me.”

She took to the program with enthusiasm. The program includes online tutorials, recommended reading, exercises, and activities. She tackled the program as though she were undertaking a new advanced degree. She set up a system for herself, and when we held our first consultation, she was wide open to suggestions. She didn’t come into the program with a preconceived idea of where it might lead.

I discovered that Deanna has a deep intuitive nature. Part of what she was heeding was her gut instinct.

She knew there had to be something “out there” where she could contribute in a more meaningful way.

She also expressed her love for animals and how her dream is to one day be an animal healer. I encouraged her to continue to explore that. We don’t listen to our inner wisdom often enough. We shut down because we have convinced ourselves that certain things “aren’t possible.” I try to get my clients to embrace the idea that “anything is possible.” It is, in fact, “possible” once you believe it is.

Listen to Deanna’s testimony in her own words as they relate to her experience of the work we did together:

Deanna’s Case Study:  https://youtu.be/IOtJN7H31E4.

This video conversation holds several key pieces of information. Deanna made use of the entire program starting with getting in touch with herself and remembering what brought her job and peace.

Here is what she said about the nature of the instruction and inspiration she got from following the modules and the results she saw:

I developed my professional portfolio through LinkedIn (lesson 7).  Others in the field I am in accepted my invitations, and I continue to meet and expand my network today.

Also, I closely followed Kitty’s modules regarding bringing life to one’s cover letter/resume (lessons 3-4). I applied for the position I currently accepted, and within 24 hours, I received a response of interest.

A breakthrough I experienced was I recognized that I held the cards.  I simply needed the support of someone like Kitty who has ‘been there, done that’ to guide me through the process of reinventing myself.”

There are usually side benefits to taking part in programs like this. Sometimes they can be unexpected. Here is what Deanna said about one of the benefits she received from working with me one-on-one:

“Kitty’s ability to relate to and validate my frustrations as an educator in today’s world was valuable to me.  I no longer felt alone.  She is an excellent empathic listener!

I also felt supported in taking baby steps, as reinventing one’s self can be an overwhelming process.  She understands the challenge in breaking new ground, as she was once in my shoes.”

I always ask people if they would be willing to offer a recommendation on LinkedIn or a testimonial for my website as I draw my work with a client to a close. I did the same with Deanna. Here is what she offered that she would tell her friends and colleagues about working with me:

“I would (and already have) recommend you to others who are looking for more fulfillment in their professional lives.  You are authentic.  You have experienced this journey firsthand, and that lends credibility to your interest in supporting me to do the same.

You also have experience leading others outside of this realm/position, as former president of VEA, and that also lends credibility to coaching others, in my opinion.”


Man writing Happy Client on a virtual screen

Happy Client


So, there you have it. Another satisfied client. Another teacher who has decided that the system has failed her and it’s time to move on. I am confident that Deanna will be successful in her new role. She only need bring half of her enthusiasm to her new role as she brought to her job transition program, to that, but I know she will bring 100% to that new endeavor.

I am also confident that while she will bring tremendous value to her new position, she will learn as well as contribute and she may have even greater things waiting for her in her future.

It is a pleasure working with people like Deanna. She saw a need to make a change in her life, and she made it with confidence and determination.

What about you? Are you ready to take charge of your career and your life?

If so, I urge you to contact me for a 20-minute complimentary Discovery Session. Just go to my calendar here to sign up. It won’t cost a thing but 20-minutes of your time:  https://kittyatcareermakeover.coachesconsole.com/calendar/.


A Message to Teachers about Going Back to School Tomorrow

Christmas memories are quickly fading, and New Year’s resolutions may have already been dropped. Tomorrow, after a long holiday hiatus, it will be time to return to work.

For my teacher friends who will be returning to school routines, I hope you are looking forward to Monday morning with joyful anticipation. You have missed your kids, perhaps, and you can’t wait to hear them regale you with all of their holiday stories of gifts gotten and trips taken.

For some of you, however, you may be experiencing a sense of dread. When I taught and worked as an elementary school librarian, I remember some of my colleagues talking about how they cried on the Sunday night before coming in on Monday.

I couldn’t relate because I loved my job as the school librarian. I knew then, as I know today, that being the media specialist was the best job in the building, and I never took it for granted. I did look forward to coming back after summer vacations and holidays and weekends. I know, however, that some of my colleagues did not share my enthusiasm because they talked about it with me.

It always bothered me to hear of my colleagues’ misery. Some were new mothers, and leaving their babies at the daycare or even with Grandma was excruciatingly painful for them. Others had just stopped enjoying their work but didn’t know what to do about it.

I suspect that the percentage of teachers who dread going to school tomorrow has increased dramatically since my days as a librarian. I suspect this based on the calls and emails I get from teachers who have lost their enthusiasm for teaching.

For many teachers, the fun has been sucked out of the profession by reformers and politicians who never taught a day in their lives but think they know how classrooms should be run. Add to the misery the countless number of tasks that have been added to the plates of every teacher in the country while nothing has ever been removed. (This is a pet peeve of mine, and I complained of it in my last speech before the Virginia Board of Education members in 2012 when I was still President of the Virginia Education Association from 2008-2012.)

Unless you have been a teacher or you have lived with one, and you have personally witnessed the work hours they put in at home, you can’t possibly appreciate the amount of work the average teacher puts into their job when they are not at work. Oh, I know people in business often bring work home at night. I also know that a lot of that work stays in the briefcase all night and is never touched. The work can be caught up the next day, after all.

Not so if you are are a schoolteacher. You have kids who are counting on you to bring them your A-game every single day, and every single period of every single day. You don’t have the luxury of slacking off if you have papers to grade or lesson plans that haven’t been created but must be ready for the next day.

Teachers have pressures to which people in business cannot relate, and they should stop trying. On top of that, if I hear one more time that teachers have it “easy” because they “only” work from 7:30 to 2:30 and they get three months “off for the summer,” I might scream.

Most teachers not only have the massive workload to which I have referred, but many of them have to take 2nd jobs to pay the rent, keep food on the table, buy gas for the car, and pay back massive student loans. Those loans will be anchors around their necks for decades to come because getting a college education today has become so oppressively expensive. But that is another topic for another day.

My first year as a teacher, after paying rent and utilities and budgeting enough for gas so I could get back and forth from work, I had $20 left for food. My roommate’s mom kept me fed, and the $20 went toward buying yogurt cups that I could get for 4 for $1 on sale. Occasionally, my dad would offer a few extra dollars to get me through the month.

I eventually took on additional jobs to supplement my income. Now, I ask you…who does that on a routine basis besides teachers and maybe actors? And why do teachers do it?

I will tell you why. It is because, for the most part, they love teaching. In fact, many of them never considered ever doing anything else!

Now, none of them went into teaching expecting to get rich. They did go into it thinking they could make ends meet, however.

Like other people, teachers want to get married and have children of their own. They want to buy homes and pay for college tuition for their own children. They would like to be able to take the occasional vacation, and they want to be able to live without fear of going broke every time the car breaks down.

As a Career Transition Coach specializing in teachers who are experiencing job burnout, I hear this refrain all of the time: “I love my kids, but it is all of the other stuff I can’t bear doing anymore.”

“All of the other stuff “is “teacher code” for all of the additional paperwork that is now being required of teachers everywhere. For the most part, nobody seems to care about the extra paperwork, but is required for the purpose of holding teachers more “accountable.”

“All the other stuff” is also “teacher code” for being evaluated using rubrics that make no sense, yet these rubrics tie a teacher’s evaluation to the achievement of their students with no regard for where those students live or their readiness for school.

A popular saying among top policymakers has been, “poverty is no excuse” for lagging achievement in our country. The fact is, however, that lawmakers and policymakers completely ignore the fact that sometimes children don’t do well in school because of factors over which their teachers have no direct control.

Some children come to school hungry. That in and of itself is a travesty given that we live in the richest nation on the planet, but it is no less a fact.

Other students don’t do well in school because they can’t see. They need glasses, but optometrists and glasses are not covered by most insurance policies. Still other children may be having trouble concentrating because they have a toothache, but they have no access to a dentist.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

So, to my teacher friends and colleagues:  I hope you will be able to start 2016 with a renewed enthusiasm for your profession. If that feels impossible, however, don’t lose hope. Your education, talent, and experience CAN be used in many other endeavors.

I never want to encourage anyone who still loves teaching out of the profession. I do, however, want to help those for whom teaching has lost its luster. I want them to know that they can find help with identifying their transferable skills, writing their resumes, getting their LinkedIn profiles optimized and setting them on course for a career that may be a better fit for them than teaching has turned out to be.

If you are a teacher who wants to hear more about that, let me know. Sign up for a complimentary 30-minute consultation. Let’s talk.