BOCA RATON — Florida Atlantic University’s College of Education was recently named the grant administrator by the U.S. Department of Defense for the State of Florida’s Troops to Teachers program, which provides information, linkage and support to soldiers and military veterans who desire to become teachers in Florida.
Troops to Teachers is a nationwide program authorized by Congress to recruit and provide support services to veterans who enter the teaching field. Those eligible can receive a $5,000 stipend to pay for certification costs or a $10,000 bonus if they teach for three years in a high-need or a high-poverty school.
“On average, the veterans who enter this program are in their mid-40s and have life experience to bring into the classroom,” said Ron Burton, regional director of the Florida and Caribbean region for Troops to Teachers. “They have experience working with individuals across all socio-economic categories, and they are mission-oriented and have leadership skills. Military instructors and other officers know how to manage and work with others, hold people accountable and provide different kinds of motivation for different individuals.”
Glenn Thomas, assistant Dean of PreK-12 Schools and Programs in FAU’s College of Education, is the principal investigator for the Troops to Teachers grant. One area of opportunity is the pursuit of related grants to expand distance learning for veterans who are serving active duty overseas or nationally, particularly in the areas of middle or high school mathematics, chemistry, physics and geosciences, to match state demand.
“Today’s technologies and partnerships offer robust possibilities to support quality learning for military personnel around the globe,” said Thomas. “FAU’s traditionally strong science and engineering programs may meet the interests of veterans having a desire to teach, but who need additional content and distance flexibility.”
A study in the National Association of Secondary School Principals found that the students of veterans that have become teachers through the Troops to Teachers program perform well in reading and slightly better in mathematics compared to traditional teachers. Since military personnel often work in highly technical jobs, they are prepared to fill high-needs subject areas in math and science. Veterans also excel as school administrators.
Since its inception in 1994, the Troops to Teachers program has assisted more than 1,000 veterans in Florida, with 300 participants currently teaching in the state. Eligibility requirements vary, but in general, those who have served on active duty or have been Selected Reserve personnel with six years and have separated with an honorable discharge within the last four years may qualify.
Military veterans who have retired from the service are eligible, as well as those who have service-determined physical disabilities. Veterans with a bachelor’s degree or who are working on a degree may qualify to work toward the state’s teacher certification requirements and receive the stipend.