The road to teaching after military service is not always a straight one. Initial post-service career choices may at first seem unrelated to a second career in public education. As time passes though, many of these choices remind veterans of their desire to teach and mentor, which in turn leads them to the front of public school classrooms. This was the case for retired U.S. Coast Guard Commander Richard Kermond, who teaches ninth grade World Civilization and tenth grade Modern World History at Westwood High School in Westwood, Massachusetts—ten years after his military retirement.
“My first post-service career choice was consulting,” said Kermond. “I developed and taught emergency management courses and it turned out to be a natural segue to pursuing a full-time teaching career. I found that what I liked most about my Coast Guard job was the opportunity to take young officers and enlisted members and ensure they had the skills to succeed first in the Coast Guard and then later in life. When I retired, that was what I missed most.”
Richard began his formal transition to teaching in January 2013 when he enrolled in a master’s degree program at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. The program included classes in the late afternoon and evenings, geared for those working full or part-time, and then required a student teaching component.
Kermond holds an initial license to teach History in grades 5-12, which includes a Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) endorsement, but like many of today’s job seekers, he faced a very tough market. He provides the following advice to other veterans seeking teaching positions. “First, understand the market is tough. Persistence and patience are essential if you want to land a job,” Kermond stated. “Apply everywhere and follow-up, talk to as many people as possible. Opportunities will come, but you have to stay positive and focused during the long campaign,” Kermond said. “Also, understand that you are different – not the run-of-the-mill, newly, certified teacher. You have led teams, mentored subordinates and made tough decisions under stressful conditions. Your resume needs to show, in language that the teaching community can understand, how your skills fit.”
Finally, Kermond recommends taking advantage of any opportunities that can get you in the door, such as volunteer opportunities, seminars, substitute teaching or professional groups. “These opportunities may not be in something you are immediately drawn to,” he said. “But remember, it is not the end of the road – it is the beginning.”
Photo caption: USCG Commander (Ret.) Richard Kermond in his classroom at Westwood High School, Massachusetts