FORT RILEY, Kan. - A Department of Education program designed to help former Soldiers become teachers is thriving on Fort Riley.

The Troops to Teachers program began in 1994. The TTT program objective is to recruit quality teachers for K-12 schools across the nation that serves low-income Families. The program is designed to relieve teacher shortages in such subjects as math, science and special education. To meet the need, TTT assists Soldiers, who already have a bachelor's degree, by providing information on state licensure programs, teacher examination preparation and financial assistance.

Soldiers participating in the program often are within one year of Army separation. If eligible, the program provides a stipend to help them complete teacher qualifications.

To get started, Soldiers first contact Colleen Schulteis, the Fort Riley representative for Troops to Teachers, Mountain West region.

"In addition to their G.I. Bill, we provide $5,000 which goes toward tuition assistance," Schulteis said. "An additional $5,000 is like a bonus for those who agree to work in a low-income school district, an area where it's difficult to recruit teachers."

The program's financial assistance is not a loan that must be repaid. Eligible participants may apply for the stipend to reimburse expenses directly related to a teacher certification program, including courses leading to a teacher's certification or license. Typical expenses covered by the stipend are tuition, books, child care and transportation. Coverage also includes fees for school registration, parking, certification testing and fingerprinting, if required by the state.

Based on Schulteis' referrals, the national TTT office makes the decision as to who is eligible for the program. Registration is restricted to retired military personnel, active duty personnel who separate with six or more years of service on or after Oct. 1, 1990, or current or separated members of the Selected Reserve with six or more years of creditable service towards retirement.

In 2007, three Fort Riley Soldiers registered with the program, and one was hired. Eight more Soldiers registered in 2008, and four were hired. About 20 Soldiers currently are participating in the program, Schulteis said.

"There's always an abundance of teaching jobs, not only in Kansas, but throughout the nation," she said.

A 2005 survey performed by the National Center for Education Information reported 82 percent of teachers who enter through the TTT program are male. That figure is in direct contrast to an overall teaching force that is increasingly female. The number of male teachers in America dropped from 31 percent in 1986 to 18 percent in 2005.

Soldiers bring leadership skills and valuable life experience to the classroom, Schulteis said.

"They know what they're doing and they have real world experience," she said. "A lot of schools are looking for people who are going to be real with the kids and help them see things. Having a military background gives them a whole set of skills and tools that some civilian teachers may not have. Some may have traveled the world and been to Germany, Korea, Iraq or Afghanistan. So, let's say you're teaching history - you can really bring it to life."

Soldiers who would like to become teachers, but don't have a bachelor's degree, may consider participating in Education Service's new teacher education program. The program, which began in January, gives Soldiers, spouses and residents of the Central Flint Hills Region the opportunity to take courses in education on post and online. Those interested in the teacher education program should contact Kirk Dimond of Southwestern College either by e-mail at kirk.dimond@sckans.edu or by calling him at 784-9930.

Soldiers wanting to learn more about the Troops to Teachers program can stop by Schulteis' office between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays at Room 107 in Building 217 on Main Post. Schulteis also can be contacted by e-mail at colleen.schulteis@us.army.mil or by calling 239-0329. Soldiers also can find more information at the Troops to Teachers Web site: www.proudtoserveagain.com.

MORE INFORMATION
For more information about Troops to Teachers, e-mail colleen.schulteis@us.army.mil, call 239-0329 or visit www.proudtoserveagain.com.

Page last updated Mon March 9th, 2009 at 15:44