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Career Quick Look
Salary: $48,690* Education:
Years in Field: 6 M.A. and B.S. in Education
City/State: Glenmoore, PA View Joanne M. Trombley's Resume

"The other teachers in the department have been great," Joanne says, "willing to share ideas and treating me with respect." As for other women working in a mostly male field, she says, "Don't be shy around them . Have confidence in your abilities. Speak up and show that you're willing to be a team player."

Getting Started: Despite her childhood interest in inventors, and a high school boyfriend who introduced her to radio electronics, Joanne had always planned to become a French teacher. She applied to colleges with strong foreign language programs, but one morning in her senior year of high school, she woke up with the realization that her true interests lie elsewhere. "It hit me over the head that that wasn't the right thing for me," she says. To this day, Joanne credits her high school electronics teacher and the ex-boyfriend for encouraging her. "I never would have thought of this field," she says. "I think that's an important lesson. Sometimes other people see your strengths better than you can."

Education: After high school, Joanne entered Cheyney State College (now Cheyney State University) in Pennsylvania, where she was the only woman in the Industrial Arts and Technology department. The first year, she says, was especially tough, and she worked herself doubly hard to prove she was "serious," earning a 4.0 in her first semester. "After that," Joanne says, "I was accepted as 'one of the guys'."

And not merely 'accepted' - she was elected President of Cheyney's Industrial Arts Society, President of the Pennsylvania Council of College Students in Industrial Arts, then Northeast Regional Vice President of the American Industrial Arts College Student Association. Upon graduation in 1980 Joanne delivered the valediction address to her class.

While she knew that working in education was her ultimate goal, Joanne worked for several years in industry, and was self-employed while her children were young. "I wanted business and industrial experience before teaching students about it," she says. "I felt that would make me a better teacher." She started teaching for the West Chester Area District in 1995, and in May of 2000 earned her Master of Arts in Education from Gratz College in Pennsylvania.

Greatest Professional Achievement: Her greatest professional accomplishment was "to serve the Technology Education Association of Pennsylvania as their first female President Elect," Joanne says. It's a four-year commitment, working to promote technology education statewide-and one of her major goals is to increase female involvement in the field. "Interest is certainly a major factor in career selection," she says. "And as teachers, we are in an excellent position to plant seeds for future choices."

Barriers: Arriving as the only female in her first year at Cheyney was tough, she admits. "I felt pretty lonely," Joanne says, "and I felt that all eyes were on me, watching for me to make a mistake." Once her fellow students got to know her, and saw that she was a serious student, she says things were much better.

Academically, Joanne says "math has always been a problem for me." She learned to seek help from tutors in her problem areas-which proved a big help when she got to her master's program and encountered statistics. "Tutoring was my saving grace," she says.

She feels her own experience has helped her become a more empathetic teacher. "I understand when someone doesn't get it the first time," Joanne says.

Working with Men: While she's the only female in the District's Technology Education Department, Joanne says she has many female co-workers at her own school. She had been warned in the past about the 'old boys network' in technology, and says that some people still react with surprise upon learning her profession, but Joanne has been warmly received by co-workers, and she has been encouraged in her involvement with the Technology Education Association of Pennsylvania.

"The other teachers in the department have been great," she says, "willing to share ideas and treating me with respect." As for other women working in a mostly male field, she says, "Don't be shy around them.Have confidence in your abilities. Speak up and show that you're willing to be a team player."

Advice for Women: "Don't be afraid to ask for help," Joanne says. "Ask lots of questions, learn from others. And don't be afraid of making mistakes-just learn from them." She encourages anyone interested to spend a day with a Technology Education teacher, to see what it's like from their viewpoint. "Definitely go for it," she says, "if you think it's what you want to do."

One of her favorite units to teach is on Inventors and Innovation, Joanne says, because it shows students the value of perseverance. "In every case," she says "it takes many tries, and it takes teams of people working together, and a number of failures before they come up with a successful product."

Typical Workday/Environment: "Technology is the creation and application of knowledge, tools, and skills to solve practical problems and extend human capabilities," is how Joanne describes her field. "Technology Education is the study of this field, along with its interrelation with life, society and the environment."

Joanne says she spends most of her workday in the school's Technology Education lab, which is divided into three areas. "We're very fortunate to have a lot of equipment," she says. "We have a Computer Assisted Drafting and Desktop Publishing lab, and we have a traditional shop area, where the tools and machines are. The other area is where we have the latest technology, which includes robotics, fiber optics, lasers, satellite and communications equipment."

Joanne teaches 6th, 7th and 8th graders at her middle school, and will see all 1000 students for one marking period each school year. The only downside, she says, is the paperwork. "All the record-keeping," she laughs. "I don't like that part, but every job has its downside."

Working with students-watching them discover something new-is what Joanne loves most about the job. "I like it when I see the light bulb go off, and they get really excited about something," she says.

Career Ladder: A first-year teacher might start at $36,000/year, she says, depending on the location and tax base of a particular district. "Most districts have really great benefits," she says. And unlike other fields, "the more years you have in, the more secure your job is," she says. "In the field of teaching you don't have to worry about turning 50, and they want you out the door." Salary increases generally run about $1,500-2000 a year, and can increase with further education (for which most districts offer reimbursement-anywhere from 40-90%). A teacher with 20 years of experience and a Ph.D. can earn $80,000/year.

Professional Associations: Joanne is currently President Elect of the Technology Education Association of Pennsylvania. She's also involved with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, drafting assessment questions for a statewide test in Science and Technology that will be administered for the first time in 2002. She is a member of the International Technology Education Association, and the "Girl's Exploring Tomorrow's Technology" Committee, among others.

Hobbies: In her off-time, Joanne enjoys reading non-fiction-particularly books about inventors or innovation, and magazines like Popular Science. She has also taken up aerobic weight training, which she calls "a great stress-buster." She likes to socialize with family-her husband and two teenage daughters-and friends. Joanne and her husband have also learned to make wine on their property. "We have a grape vineyard and an orchard with assorted fruit trees," she says. "Blueberries, cherries, apples, pears, all kinds of things."

*Annual salary number is not the role model's actual salary. Salary for Technology Education Teacher based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition

 


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