Salmon Native Discovers Path to Teaching Career

There are many advantages to living in a town the size of Salmon, which Hannah Burch found out when she returned to her hometown after living in Alaska for four years.

“My mom ran into Julie Dodd in town and told her I was moving back and would be looking for work,” Hannah said. Julie is the manager of the Idaho Department of Labor Salmon office, and that was the contact she needed.

“Julie met with me and said she might have something,” Hannah said. That something turned into a training opportunity for Hannah to earn elementary education teacher training online through Western Governors University (WGU). And now Hannah, 26, is running a homeschool co-op for kids from kindergarten through sixth grade.

The training was funded by the federal Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Administration (WIOA) through the youth program, which is administered by Idaho Labor. The program was ideal for Hannah, Julie said, and so was the teaching format of WGU, where all courses are fully online.

“I had some pre-requisite courses in nursing completed, but as a single mother with two kids, I knew a nursing career would be difficult due to the demanding schedule and shifts. Teaching is definitely better for me,” Hannah said, “and I love kids.”

Exposure to science classes in her nursing pre-requisites didn’t hurt, though. “I learned some great information and it helped having some science credits,” she said. Hannah served an internship at the Salmon Public School during her training and has only to complete student teaching to finish the elementary education program. COVID-19 has temporarily derailed this final task, however.

Despite the many disruptions caused by COVID-19, it also led to an ideal working situation for Hannah who manages the homeschool coop program online from her home where she can also be with her own children – nearly 4-year-old daughter Charlie and 6-year-old son Gunner. She also teaches pre-school at Calvary Church in Salmon.

Julie enjoys working with Hannah, who after nearly two years, is almost finished with the Labor program. “She is sharp and motivated. When she came to Labor, she wanted to pursue a career to become self-sufficient and be able to support her family,” Julie said. People like Hannah are the most successful candidates for the WIOA programs because they are motivated.

Hannah has been grateful for Labor’s support and not just financially.

“I totally would recommend the Department of Labor to others,” Hannah said, especially for those looking to change jobs or careers. “I am using everything I learned through the training in my job,” she said.

Besides the WIOA training opportunities, the Labor Department also offers services for any job seeker, such as assistance with other job training, resume writing, interview skills and virtual job fairs. To set up an in-person or phone appointment with a workforce consultant in your area, see the office directory for contact information.

–  Jean Cullen, Idaho Department of Labor project coordinator

Photo of family

Hannah Burch of Salmon with son, Gunner, and daughter, Charlie.