Boris Hladek took his degree in a crowded field — film production — and retrained to get a job as a teacher. Now 30, he teaches video production and writing for TV and radio at Monroe Township High School.
He has had some rewarding moments: “In the last quarter of the video production class, groups of four students had to write, shoot, and edit a short film. One group in particular had a student who spearheaded the project. They really put a lot of effort, they stayed after school to fix things that didn’t work. It was so much fun to see their enthusiasm, and I had no problem about staying late and working with them.”
Hladek grew up in Germany, near Frankfurt, where his father was an optician, and he came to the United States as a high school exchange student, returning to attend New Jersey City University, graduating in 2000 with a degree in film and video.
“I fell in love with the United States,” says Hladek, who was on track to receive a free college education in Germany. “For the field that I wanted to go into, I felt I would have more opportunity over here.”
He worked in the television and film industry and did some documentaries for Channel 13, when he heard about the statewide teacher training program through his wife, who also changed careers and teaches second grade.
He took a 12-month graduate-level certification program, starting in the summer at Bergen Community College, and started full-time teaching that September. He transferred his program to Middlesex County College, which was closer to his job in Monroe, and attended classes there during the school year. The certificate cost about $2,600 and is offered at all the community colleges. If he wanted to transfer 15 graduate credits toward a master of arts in teaching degree at New Jersey City University, it would cost about $6,000.
Hladek liked the summer component, versus the programs that start the new teacher off, cold, in September. “It gives give you some teaching techniques, classroom management, and theory, plus the chance to observe summer school classes,” says Hladek.
Any problems he has had seem to be generational. “I am only 30 years old and am not that far removed from being in high school. But this is a new generation, and they grew up under different circumstances. Sometimes I really don’t know what makes these kids tick. When they are negative about education in general, it makes you question, wonder what you can do to change these attitudes. Or maybe you come to the conclusion that some students can’t be reached.”