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Jim Siegfried, 56

Jim Siegfried, 56

Old career: IBM customer service representative
New venture: Math teacher at Hale Elementary School in Arlington, Tex.

Siegfried was already taking the online classes he needed to become certified as a teacher before IBM introduced its Transition to Teaching Program in 2006. The company offers a $15,000 stipend to qualified employees to offset educational costs. "It was just one of those good fortune things," Siegfried says. Even so, he was worried his manager would not let him duck out of work early and finish his coursework, "but there was no resistance," he says. With three full-grown kids, making the switch to full-time teaching in 2007 wasn't hard financially. "People wonder what IBM has to gain," says Siegfried. "My impression is that it is the right thing to do to help the country."