Tyler Thompson's Teaching Career Takes Off with Help from Vocational Rehabilitation

Tyler Thompson photo

Polk County, FL Ė Tyler Thompson always wanted to be a teacher. Even as he struggled through school to learn how to deal with his Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and make passing grades, Tyler was determined to follow his dream.

Now, Tyler is one of the newest teachers at Auburndale High School, teaching World History Honors and AP World History, and heís very excited about his new career. As he puts it, "Iím teaching students in classes that I would never have taken in high school."

In kindergarten, Tylerís teacher noticed that he had trouble hearing and was falling behind the other students. After getting tubes in his ears, things improved, but he had a lot of ground to make up. He was placed in the ESE program at school, but then the teachers discovered that while Tylerís hearing had improved, he also had ADD.

"By the end of middle school, I had caught up with the other kids but they still kept me in the ESE program," Tyler says. "After graduation, my teacher told me about Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)." VR helps people with disabilities find or keep a job. Tyler qualified for VR services, and he began meeting with his counselor, Johana Gonzalez.

"Tylerís goal was always to be a teacher," says Johana. With VR providing help for tuition, books, and transportation, along with counseling and guidance from Johana, Tyler graduated with his AA degree from Polk State College and then his bachelorís degree in education from the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Tyler did his internship at Auburndale High School during the 2012 fall semester. When the teacher went on medical leave in January, the school asked Tyler to take over the classes for spring. When she retired in June, Tyler became an official full-time history teacher.

Johana is very proud of Tyler. "I was always impressed with Tyler from the time I met him. He was always very responsible. And the fact that he came back to work in his community is a great thing. Heís such a good role model, both to his students, and also to other young people in the community."

Tyler has shown that a person can live with ADD and function in the workplace. "I donít mind if my supervisor knows that I have a disability," he explains. "I believe my teaching practices speak for themselves. Iíve grown up and learned how to deal with my ADD. Itís just who I am, and I am fortunate that I learned how to handle it without medication."

"I am eternally grateful to VR and Johana," says Tyler. "Without them my life would be in a much different spot than it is now. I probably wouldnít have a career, or at least, I wouldnít be this far along in my career. I recommend VR for anybody that qualifies for it."

Floridaís Vocational Rehabilitation program is committed to helping people with disabilities become part of Americaís workforce. Our employer-focused website, FLJobConnections.com, allows businesses to search at no charge for employees who are ready to go to work, as well as to post available jobs. VR has 80 offices across Florida, and last year helped 6,523 Floridians with significant disabilities find or keep a job. For more information about VR and its services, call (800) 451-4327 or visit Rehabworks.org.