Lawton High math teacher followed road from Army to classroom
Lawton High math teacher Clyde Page took the long way around to the classroom.
Before he was known as, “Mr. Page,” to hundreds of students in the halls of LHS, the would-be mathematics instructor was a soldier in the Army. Before he taught averages and algebra, he was a contractor at Fort Sill. It took more than 30 years of service to his country before he realized the next stage of his life would be in a classroom in front of dozens of students.
“I was in the military for more than 29 years and then I worked as a military contractor,” Page said. “I substitute taught for about a semester and I realized teaching was something I wanted to do.”
Page is one hundreds of teachers in Lawton Public Schools and across Southwest Oklahoma who followed a non-traditional path to teaching. Alternative certification has opened the door for those, like Page, who have an interest in teaching, but initially chose a different career. Oklahoma continues to face an ever-present teaching shortage with hundreds of positions open this year without enough traditionally-educated teachers to fill them. University education programs graduate less teachers each year, and many of those who do graduate go to neighboring states, where they receive more money, better benefits and increased classroom funding. Page was a direct beneficiary of the shortage.
“They had a shortage of a math teacher and they needed someone who could teach math well,” he said. “I was lucky enough they thought of me. I came in to teach in place of another math teacher and they hired me.”
That was five years ago. Today, Page is known as one of the best high school math teachers in the district. His students’ scores on the state-mandated math test are the highest in the district — a stark contrast to the perceived notion that emergency-certified and alternative-certified teachers are inferior to those who graduated from university education programs, or somehow do a disservice to their students.