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One of the most important jobs that a nation has before it is that of educating its children and its citizens. As a former teacher, I know how important it is to have a teacher in front of a classroom who is both knowledgeable in his or her subject, but that he or she is also someone who is excited about the effort and reward of learning and shows that excitement in his or her behavior in the classroom. Most importantly, a good teacher sees his or her students as valuable, promising human beings in formation.
"Troops to Teachers" is a program sponsored by the Department of Defense aimed at assisting eligible military personnel in achieving their goals of becoming teachers in the public schools, from grades K-12. The program is funded by the Department of Defense and is managed by DANTES, or the "Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support."
The stated goals and objectives on the DANTES website is: "Reflecting the focus of No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, The primary objective of TTT is to recruit eligible military personnel to become highly qualified teachers in schools that serve students from low-income families throughout America. TTT helps relieve teacher shortages, especially in math, science, special education and other critical areas, and assists military personnel in making successful transitions to second careers in teaching."
This program is funded by Congress annually and, pending the availability of those funds, it provides financial assistance to eligible individuals as stipends of up to $5,000 to help defray certification costs, or as bonuses of $10,000 to teach in schools serving in low-income areas. Like the other more well know military education program, ROTC, this one requires those who receive the above funds to teach for at least three years in local, inner city public schools.
This is a great concept in two ways in my estimation. The first is that it gives military veterans who have the educational background the opportunity to enter a second career that is as important to the health, well-being, and welfare of the nation as was their military service. Instead of defending the nation on the field of battle, they can enter, as a second career, the paramount effort of building up the nation at home through the education of the next generation.
The second way is that in working in the targeted schools that this program is designed to serve, is also like being on the front lines. You are doing battle with the effects of poverty, challenging students to learn the excitement of curiosity. A great teacher gives his or her students the experience and the successes of self-discipline, and helps them to mold themselves into responsible young men and women. A great teacher helps his or her students empower and liberate themselves, to make a better future for themselves, their families and the nation.
This "Troops to Teachers" Program through the Department of Defense is a great program for our veterans. It utilizes the skills, the discipline and the desire to serve that veterans already have. Veterans are more mature, have looked the ultimate questions in the face, they have the courage to look at the difficulties that students in our nation's poorest communities experience with creativity and dedication. I think this is a winning program for both the veterans and the students they will teach. If you know a veteran who would be a good teacher, let them know about this important program. It is mutually beneficial to veterans and to the students they will teach.