SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– When David Ortiz was just an eighth grader in the Syracuse City School District he didn’t put much thought into what career and technical education pathway he wanted to be a part of. Instead, he followed some friends to the Urban Teacher Preparation Program at Corcoran High School.

“I just thought I was going to be doing this class and be done and find something to do after high school.”

David Ortiz, Teaching Assistant SCSD

To his surprise, he fell in love with the four-year program that prepares students for a career in urban education after graduation.

“They’re establishing that career path right away so it’s an easier transition for them to get into and hopefully retain them which is another huge problem we’ve seen with teachers,” said Carrie O’Connor the instructor in charge of teaching the program.

That’s exactly what happened to Ortiz who graduated from Corcoran High School last year and is now a teaching assistant at Deleware Elementary School in the Syracuse City Schools.

“I know what it’s like being in the building and now I know what it’s like being on the other side in the same building and it’s pretty cool.”

David Ortiz, Teaching Assistant SCSD

It’s a career he never could have imagined before the program and one he credits for preparing him to enter the workforce right after graduation. Throughout the four-year program, he was able to get hands-on experience learning how to make a lesson plan and put that plan into practice with classes at Roberts Elementary School.

Thanks to the program, Ortiz wants to become a teacher and is even receiving tuition assistance through SCSD’s Career Ladder Program to earn a higher education degree.

“I think the more prepared they are going in and the more experiences they have the more likely we are to keep them close by,” O’Connor said. 

She believes an educational system is stronger when people who grew up in the community are teaching in it and Ortiz agrees. He says he’s been able to connect more with students because of their shared experiences. 

Now, Ortiz is serving as a role model to students like freshman Bryce Houde and senior Isabella Pascale, both students in the program who see a future in teaching at Syracuse City Schools.