Rookie Teacher, Age 50

James Fogel, at age 50, has earned plenty of money as a lawyer, plus a splash of prestige as a criminal-court judge in New York City. Now he feels free to step down from the bench and dive back into the subjects he loved most in college: math and physics. At the same time, he is following what he describes as "an even higher calling" than the law--to work as an inner-city high school math teacher.

This is the season when school systems across the U.S. are recruiting teachers for next fall, a task that has grown more difficult in the...

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