Troops to Teachers
The Troops to Teachers program is an effort by the Department of Education and the Department of Defense to ease the transition of former military personnel into new careers and improve the quality of education in America. The program provides members of the military with funding and support to obtain licensure or certification to teach in public schools. The Department of Defense’s Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Educational Support (DANTES) provides eligible individuals with assistance, including stipends of up to $5,000, and helps them find employment in high-need schools. Under this program, troops can become licensed or certified as elementary school teachers, secondary school teachers or vocational/technical teachers. Established in 1994, the program has enabled countless members of the military to become teachers and placed them in schools across the country that need great teachers. In 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act provided for the continuation of Troops to Teachers as the program reflects the mission of raising the standards of education in America by preparing public school teachers to become great educators. The program is an important part of education reform as it aims to address educational needs in schools that have a high need for qualified teachers. These schools often serve low-income families in impoverished communities and face serious problems, like low teacher retention, high drop out rates and inadequate performance on standardized tests. The Troops to Teachers program allows veterans to start a second career and reintegrate into the workforce following their military service. It is ideal for people looking to make a difference in the lives of students, and the program itself is a gateway for expansion in the world of education. The program funds teacher certification and licensure, but once candidates become teachers, pursuing an advanced degree opens the door to further possibilities. A Master of Arts in Teaching or a Master’s of Education demonstrate that teachers are experts in their subject and increases their appeal to potential employers. Greater mobility also comes with a master’s, as degree holders can become school administrators as well. Though teachers certified through the Troops to Teachers program are likely to want to dive right into their career, candidates can still pursue an online Master’s of Education that will allow for the flexibility to teach and learn simultaneously. Eligibility for the Troops to Teachers program requires at least a bachelor’s degree, which is in accordance with the required level of education to teach in any state. The applicant's last period of service in the armed forces must have been honorable, and he/she must have had at least 90 days of service after September 10, 2001. Applicants can read the eligibility requirements or follow the DANTES self-determination eligibility guide to see if they meet all the necessary criteria. Remember: The Troops to Teachers program gives priority to applicants who have educational or military experience in science, mathematics, special education or vocational/technical subjects, and applicants should be willing to seek employment in a subject area compatible with their backgrounds.