Troops to Teachers is the Defense Department’s transition program that helps service members and veterans meet the requirements necessary to become K-12 teachers, in public, charter and Bureau of Indian Affairs schools throughout the United States and its territories.
In 2017, ten states received grants to help ensure that veterans and service members transitioning from military service receive the assistance needed to pursue employment in America’s schools as teachers. Virginia is one of those states and the first nine months have proven quite successful with 1,293 service members receiving assistance on the pathway to becoming a teacher.
The Virginia TTT center opened for business on the College of William & Mary campus and began helping veterans in May 2017. Since receiving the grant, Virginia center personnel have counseled 294 service members and veterans assisting them with some part of the decision-making or licensure process as they worked to transition into the teaching field.
"...our favorite part of the job - seeing a veteran make it all the way to the classroom and knowing that he/she is happily making a difference every day." ~ Kelley Clark, Coordinator
According to Kelley Clark, Coordinator, Troops to Teachers Virginia Center, the most important service provided to veterans is navigation of the licensing process, “This has proven to be invaluable! In addition, we work very hard to provide a complete wraparound service, which means going beyond the licensure step. We encourage active military who plan to exit within a year to initiate career planning. We provide opportunities for job shadowing and, once licensed, we assist veterans with writing their resumes and honing their interview skills. Most recently, we have added our Virtual Coffee House to our website as a place to share learning opportunities for service members at any stage of their career exploration.”
Knowing that the navigation process will be demanding and even difficult at times, service members can help themselves make their way to the classroom easier. Clark encourages service members to start early, “By starting the process prior to leaving the military, they expand their options. We also encourage our participants to take advantage of our job shadowing experience, try substitute teaching, and/or talk with other veterans who have already become teachers. We are very glad to help our TTT participants make these connections!”
Becoming a teacher can be challenging, but many who teach will tell you that the journey definitely has its rewards. The TTT state grants and the commitment of folks like those working in the Virginia TTT office are committed to program success and the mission of putting more veterans in our nation’s classrooms. “It is important to us that we find the best fit for each participant. For some, this may mean applying directly to our VDOE for a provisional license, but for others, it means gaining more experience or education before entering the classroom. In order to be sure each service member and veteran finds that best fit, our counseling services need to be individualized and relational. Although it can be a challenge to personalize our services rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach, we know this is best for the veterans and their future students. And the relationships we form with our veterans is the best part of our job!” says Clark.
Thanks to their commitment, TTT Virginia has several success stories to tell. The very first participant the center helped received his provisional license. They also assisted him with updating his resume and honing his interview skills. Clark is happy to say that the participant quickly received a job teaching middle school social studies, “When he called to tell us the news, he said his first call was to his wife and his second call was to us! This has definitely been our favorite part of the job - seeing a veteran make it all the way to the classroom and knowing that he/she is happily making a difference every day.”
For more information about the Virginia TTT office, visit their website, call (757)221-3415, or email: email@example.com. You can also follow their social media via Facebook: facebook.com/tttvirginia and Twitter: @ProudtoEducate.
Other states that received a grant and provide assistance to service members and veterans include:
• New York
• North Carolina
Three of these states formed a consortium to expand outreach and services to an additional ten states:
• Missouri is working with Kansas and Iowa
• Oklahoma is working with Colorado
• Montana has a consortium with Idaho, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming
You can find each state's contact information by clicking on the state map on the TTT website.
Written by: Erin Roberts, DANTES Public Affairs ~ She is a retired Air Force Master Sergeant (E-7) who served 21 years as a broadcast journalist, technical training instructor and public affairs specialist. She continues to travel when opportunity allows and still enjoys talking to people and taking video and photos.