MILITARY EMPLOYMENT INITIATIVE
The military employment initiative is not new for the state of Texas; since 1995, nearly 34,000 veterans have been counseled and assisted when transitioning to the classroom. Since last year, the Texas Troops to Teachers (TTT) Grant Office has picked up the initiative and is running full steam ahead at its’ state capitol location of Austin, TX. There are 3,800 veterans in classrooms across Texas; and according to Christene Nemetsky, Texas TTT program coordinator, the most important service her office provides to TTT participants and veterans is guidance and counseling, “… an essential part of our jobs is answering questions about how to get certified, how to get hired … and calming fears about the transition, but being honest about the work teachers do.”
Nemetsky is both a teacher and a veteran offering her personal insight into both professions, saying the pace and mental capacity for learning can be different, “I remember having the ability to go to lunch in the military (if not deployed)… on a campus, you may get 20 minutes to wolf down your lunch. You take home work and worries and not much pay, but both jobs give you a fulfillment like no other career.”
According to Nemetsky, another similarity between serving in the military and the classroom is the camaraderie with your troops and your colleagues on a campus. The TTT program believes that military members are a perfect fit for the classroom and a sense of camaraderie certainly can help with the transition. According to Nemetsky, there are things that veterans can do to help themselves make the transition process to the classroom easier, “Get on a campus as a substitute or mentor, volunteer in the library or cafeteria, and get a sense of what happens on a campus and see if it’s the right fit for you.”
For the Texas TTT grant office, Nemetsky says that the biggest challenge when helping veterans is finding funding for the certification process, “The Post 911 GI Bill is a wonderful education opportunity, but it also is transferred to dependents, more often than not, leaving the veteran with having to pay out of pocket for the certification, which can run upwards of $5,000.” There are ways to meet certification though and the TTT counselors are there to help veterans find them.
Nemetsky says the top 3 things a veteran can do to help be prepared for the transition journey ahead are:
1. VOLUNTEER. Investigate the preferred grade level and subject area to teach by going to campuses and volunteering.
2. SUBJECT MATTERS. Choose a subject area that you love teaching.
3. BE KNOWLEDGABLE. Take more classes in your subject area and continually learn.
Success stories are essential to the TTT program and no grant office is short of them. Testimonials speak volumes when it comes to putting more military members into the nation’s classrooms. The Texas TTT grant office is proud to highlight two of its members who teach at Health Careers High School (HCHS), a magnet school, located in San Antonio's Northside Independent School District. The high school teaches students interested in pursuing a career in the health professions. HCHS attracts students from across Bexar County and some from as far as Hondo, Texas, and educates about 900 students from the 9th through 12th grade.
Betsy Vane and Dr. Christopher Perrin, both retired Army Colonels (2017), are teaching in their first year after leaving the military. Both are currently in alternative certification programs in the state of Texas.
Alternative certification programs (ACP’s) offer a non-traditional route to certification that allows them to teach while completing the requirements needed. Both have successfully completed their Health Science Technology Certification exams and their Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities exams.
Their journey into teaching at HCHS puts all of their military skills and experience into play. Vane was in the Army Nurse Corps and is now leading the way for students to earn a sterile processing technician certificate before they graduate. Her students see firsthand what is required to ensure functional, sterile, surgical instruments are delivered in a timely manner for quality, safe, patient care. She also leads additional students to experience a wide variety of clinical environments; some interacting with local hospitals including the Veteran Administration’s (VA) Audie Murphy Hospital in San Antonio. HCHS graduates can earn up to $43,000 straight out of high school as a sterile processing technician.
Dr. Perrin is also making a mark at HCHS. He served as a former Army dentist and is teaching Medical Terminology to six classes of freshmen students. His class is the foundation for all future classes that students will take while attending HCHS. Perrin also will be involved with the dental program leading to a registered dental assistant certificate. An experienced registered dental assistant can expect a salary of $41,000.
For more details about Texas TTT services, provided by the Texas TTT grant office,
Events Calendar: http://www.texastroopstoteachers.org/calendar.html
Facebook: @ TroopstoTeachersTexas
Twitter: @ Texas_TTT
Phone: (512) 919-5484 or call Toll Free: (800) 810-5484
Contact Texas TTT Grant Office personnel:
Christene Nemetsky, Ed.D., Program Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org , PH: 512-919-5477
Ronald Holmes, M.Ed., Program Specialist, email@example.com , PH: 512-919-5484
Enrique Guerrero, Program Assistant, firstname.lastname@example.org , PH: 512-919-5473
OTHER STATE GRANT OFFICES
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 works with Kansas and Iowa
• Oklahoma works with Colorado
• Montana works with Idaho, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming
You can find all state TTT office’s contact information by clicking on the state map on the TTT official website, http://www.proudtoserveagain.com/.