Instructor Profile: Catania Starks

Law and Public Safety Instructor

Jefferson County Career and Technical Center

How did you begin teaching law and public safety (LPS)?

After learning about the program, school leaders and I researched the projected growth of employment opportunities within LPS for our area. We took into consideration the four nearby correctional facilities. The facilities ranged from a 45-minute commute to Fayette or a short five-minute commute to our local facilities. Also in our local economy, corrections, law enforcement, public safety, medical and educational careers ranked highest of employment opportunities offered, so I decided to enter the LPS cluster.

What prepared and led you to teaching in this field?

My past work experiences. I worked as a vocational education administrative assistant for five years and taught an adult education course. I also hold certifications in corrections, emergency medical service, and fire service.

What motivates you most as a CTE instructor?

The LPS cluster has afforded me the opportunity to have fun while getting paid. I am able to combine my passion for children, CTE, and corrections in the classroom. Seeing the smiles on the students’ faces when they learn different course-related materials and the outpouring of parental involvement is very motivating. I have also received overwhelming support from my correctional family for my students and myself, which is empowering.

What impact do you hope to have on your students?

It is my prayer to impact my students with firmness and fairness. I want my students to learn and have fun. I really want to be the teacher that when my children look back on their education they feel love in their hearts, have a smile on their face, and can truly say they knew that I cared. I want my students to have lasting impressions of LPS.

What advice would you give new CTE instructors?

My best advice is to attend the New Teacher Induction provided by the Research and Curriculm Unit. This training provides participants with a wealth of resources and professional networks. Additionally, establishing a meaningful contact with Tonya Gipson [at the MDE] would be a great asset. She provides guidance through the licensure process with genuine patience and understanding. It is critical that a new teacher establish a strong professional relationship with their program supervisor. Tim Bradford [at the MDE] has been my go-to person for curriculum and SkillsUSA-related matters. 

My final advice to a new teacher is to establish a close professional relationship with other teachers in the same program area. My fellow LPS teachers are nothing short of extraordinary when it comes to sharing teaching strategies and course materials and resources. LPS teachers are definitely a unique group of diversified individuals.



ABOUT CONNECTIONS

Connections is the magazine for K-12 career and technical education (CTE) in Mississippi. The biannual publication features students, educators, schools, and organizations from approximately 50 career pathways across 16 career clusters. This Mississippi Department of Education publication is produced by the Research and Curriculum Unit at Mississippi State University. Issues are disseminated in print and electronic forms in May and December each year.

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