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Darlene Baker

NECC Faces Darlene Baker

When the electronics company she worked for was bought out, Darlene Baker found herself unemployed, news that was devastating at the time but has now proven to be serendipitous.

As a result, Darlene went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in teaching and is now a second grade teacher at the Timony School, a career that she truly loves.

A married mother of two, Darlene had always wanted to be a teacher but was encouraged to pursue electronics after graduating from high school in 1985.

After her lay-off, she volunteered in her children’s elementary school classrooms which led to part-time work as a substitute teacher and then a full-time job as a paraprofessional in a special education classroom.

When she had the opportunity to take education courses for free at Northern Essex as part of the grant-funded Seeding Success Program for paraprofessionals, Darlene jumped at the chance. She earned her Associate Degree in Elementary Education from Northern Essex in 2005 and transferred to the Fitchburg State bachelor’s degree completion program, offered on Northern Essex’s Haverhill Campus, from which she graduated in 2008.

“My job layoff was a blessing. It helped me make the change I wanted to make anyway,” says Darlene.

Darlene is now pursuing her master’s in teaching at American International College and hopes to graduate this spring before her oldest child graduates from high school.

Her advice to others who are considering a career change is “move toward a career you love” and “take it one step at a time.” Since Darlene has successfully practiced what she preaches, her advice is worth following.