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Laid Off Finance Manager Finds Her Calling Teaching Middle School

Danielle Coulanges left the fast pace of New York City behind to teach French in Houston and she's not looking back.

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Getting laid off is never an easy pill to swallow, but for former New York City financial services manager Danielle Coulanges, it proved to be the push she needed to finally pursue a meaningful career: teaching. Coulanges used part of her severance package to go back to school and earn a teaching credential. Now Coulanges has found her calling teaching French to middle schoolers in Houston.

Coulanges is part of a hot trend of new teachers who are career changers. Like former USA Today sportswriter Steve Wieberg who recently left the paper to become a high school English teacher in Missouri, she's in her late fifties.


"You're never too old to live your dreams or pursue something that will make a difference," says Coulanges. Given that 72 percent of college seniors who graduated last spring say being able to make a positive societal impact at work is essential to being happy—and nearly half would be willing to take a pay cut to do so—we'll probably start to see more people in their twenties and thirties making the jump to teaching sooner rather than later.