Professional Embraces Teaching as Rewarding Second Career

By Office of Communication and Community Relations
Employee News
May 12, 2023

“While my first career was good, my second, encore career has been great.” says Mark Deaton, an educator at Westfield High School. Deaton, like others in their career’s twilight, says, “Older people think about their legacy. While I loved it and learned a lot in 25 years in marketing and sales, I was ready for a second career and I chose to be a teacher.” 

Teaching was not on his “early” radar. By chance, during his son’s back-to-school night at Oakton High, he heard a teacher talking about their career switching experience and how it was done through EducateVA. Within a week, Deaton and his son’s teacher were talking over cups of coffee–the first step to his second career.  

In about four months, not years, the program offered by EducateVA can help someone become a licensed teacher in the state of Virginia, while maintaining their current job and responsibilities. Getting started is easy. 

Soon after graduating, Deaton was employed full-time at FCPS. He became Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher in 2016 at Westfield High School. He taught Economics and Personal Finance, Principles of Business, and Computer Information Systems.

Although he retired from a full time position in June 2021, he continues to work as a substitute and coach the Westfield High School debate team, while helping to manage WeSTEP, a specialized workforce development program for the school’s graduating seniors.

The profession, according to Deaton, isn’t for everyone, but he says, “It’s challenging, achievable, and rewarding.” When we pressed Deaton on the triteness of the word “rewarding,” he didn't back down. “The job is extremely rewarding. I’ve seen it happen, teachers can change lives” and he backed that up with stories about impacting students and their parents.

“Facts are available with a simple Google search,” Deaton reminds us. “Building trust with a student and giving them confidence, that’s what endures. I’ve had kids tell me things that they wouldn’t tell their best friend or parents–their hopes and fears. My job is to help them analyze and use information and intrinsic motivation to become confident adults.”  

“While this job is not for everyone, I can think of only a few better ways to create your own legacy. As a marketing and sales guy, my job was to persuade others. Becoming a teacher, I simply changed one client base for another.” To his surprise, one of the best parts of the job are the connections with other teachers. “Teachers are great colleagues. They are dedicated, patient and funny! It’s a terrific group of people to work with.”  

According to Deaton, “This is a tough era to be a high school student.” Deaton is sharing his story because northern Virginia has many successful adults who he hopes will consider an encore career teaching in Fairfax County Public Schools, emphasizing the word public. “The range of society is reflected in our public schools. Bringing diverse students together helps them develop a broader perspective and understanding of the world.”

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a teacher through EducateVA, you can email Deaton at [email protected].