FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — The Service to Schools program is making it possible for transitioning service members and spouses to put their experience and skills to use in the classroom.
The program picks up where the now defunct Troops to Teachers program left off, providing service members and their spouses information about careers as teachers, substitutes and aides.
Twelve potential educators attended an orientation given by administrators from Killeen Independent School District to get more information about the program and ask questions.
“In our efforts to hire highly qualified people to serve our students, we wanted to reach out to our neighbors right here at Fort Cavazos to help us to fill those spaces,” said Tina Cole, KISD Human Resources executive director.
“They have experiences, they’ve traveled the world and they can share those things with our kids,” she continued. “They also have degrees, backgrounds and all those things that will make them an important part of our district. And we can utilize them as a great resource.”
Cole added that relatability is yet another reason why service members work well with students.
“We have a lot of veterans that serve as teachers and they’re very good with our students. So, we want to keep that,” she said. “They also have commonalities with our military kids. So, our military kids can relate to them, and they can relate to the military kid that’s moved back and forth a lot. So, that Soldier understands as a teacher and they’re able to help them.”
Angie Donovan, Human Resources coordinator for KISD, explained that the district wanted to do something to support service members and spouses, and build upon the foundation the Troops to Teachers program established.
“I think it’s been really valuable for us to do this,” she said. “That partnership is critical. We are such a part of this community, KISD and Fort Cavazos, it just makes sense.”
Donovan noted that service members have many of the skills and attributes that make them prime candidates for the classroom.
“I think they already have a lot of leadership type skills that they gain from the military that carry over into being a teacher, so they are ideal candidates,” she said.
Spc. Shanice Lindo, 1st Cavalry Division, is a single mother from Jamaica who is scheduled to transition out of the military later this year. She explained that she sought out a career that would allow her to use her education background and support her son.
“I’m from a family of teachers so that was a natural thing,” she shared. “I heard about this program, and I realized that teaching might be what I need to go back to because I love the kids and then it gives me the flexibility as a single mom to be off when my son is off and nourish young minds.”
Lindo believes that the skills she gained from her military service will serve her well as a teacher.
“Confidence, I think that’s the greatest thing the military taught me,” she affirmed. “A lot of the obstacles I had when I was in basic were terrifying, but (my leaders) said trust yourself, believe in yourself, trust the people around you and go for it. It pushes you, and I want to develop that in my students as well. The military has been hard, but it has been an experience that I love, and I can share that with my future students.”
Military spouse Ralph Kuster has been a teacher for 15 years and hopes to land a part-time position as an aide.
“I do well at imparting knowledge to kids,” he said. “I’m good at connecting with them and making the difficult seem easy.”
Kuster agreed that the program is a helpful resource.
“We move a lot and we kind of need that extra boost to help us integrate into the workforce,” he said.
“So, when they have programs like this, it guides you, and I really appreciate that.” she expressed.
Cole conveyed that the program is a way to give back to the Soldiers and family members that give so much to the community.
“I think it’s important that Fort Cavazos knows that we’re right here, we’re their neighbors and we’re here to serve as they serve us,” she said.
For more information about the Service to Schools program, contact Angie Donovan at 254-336-0049 or by email at Angela.Donovan@killeenisd.org.