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Sparking bright lights

February 16, 2017

Kara Dymond traded the bright lights of a career in the performing arts for a career in the classroom.

A teacher’s long-term prospects of financial security are more favourable than those in the performing arts, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty at the beginning of a teaching career. Kara worked through the uncertainty that comes with occasional teaching to find her full-time dream job teaching kids with autism.

Kara worked in various jobs in the theatre business, but it wasn’t until shedeveloped a drama program for students with high-functioning autism that she had an "ah-ha!" moment.

 “Students who normally didn’t share a joke with one another now had positive interactions and sustained eye contact. They became very aware of the messages sent by facial expressions and body language and tone of voice,” she says. “I saw these students come alive and have fun with one another.”

Kara weighed her options in theatre versus the classroom. “It definitely was in the back of my mind that having a pension is an added level of security for me in the future.” 

As any new teacher knows, the start of a teaching career still has a lot of uncertainty. Of the working teachers who are under age 30, nearly 60% are occasional.

Kara’s been teaching for more than five years now, and cites perseverance and a bit of luck in landing her first long-term occasional (LTO) position, which then led to a full-time permanent position. Her advice to fellow new teachers? Find the area of teaching you’re passionate about and become an expert in it. She has taken numerous certificate programs, attended countless conferences on autism and learning, obtained her master's degree and is now working towards a PhD in the area of teaching kids with autism.

“The more tools you have at your disposal, the more you learn. And then when you go for the job interviews in that area, it sets you apart.”

New to teaching?

Here are three things you need to know about your pension:

1. Working 10+ days in a school year earns you a year towards your 85 factor.

2. With every hour you work, your pension amount grows bigger. Download Classtime to keep track of where and when you work.

3. Teaching summer school can help you hit the maximum allowed in a school year to earn credit (generally 194 days).