"Troops-to-Teachers" Creates New Wave of Instructors for Districts Nationwide: Classrooms Get Savvy and Experienced Military Personnel Moving to "Second Career" Stage

Article excerpt

Recruiting teachers to low-income schools is an ongoing problem for hundreds of U.S. school districts. The "Troops-to-Teachers" (TTT) program, a U.S. Department of Education (DOE) initiative, has been started to counter this problem, identifying and training quality teachers for low-income schools throughout America. Among its benefits, TTT helps relieve teacher shortages, especially in math, science, special education and other high-needs subject areas, and assists retiring military personnel in making successful transitions to second careers in teaching.

"It's a total plus for our district," says Richard Monroe, Human Resources Specialist, Robeson County (NC) Schools. "We've been working with [TTT] for a decade and [their teachers] bring huge benefits to the classroom, including their overall maturity level. Since they've been in the Military for, typically, 20 years, they're over 40 years old and have traveled extensively as a result of serving in the U.S. Military. The value of the cultural diversity and enriched experiences from living in Asia or Europe is hard to calculate, but our students-many of whom are from low-income families--definitely benefit. We've had students who have been inspired by seeing that there is a larger world outside of Robeson County."

The Robeson County School District provides a good snapshot of a district perfectly suited to take advantage of the TTT program. With an enrollment of approximately 30,000 students and 2,900 principals, teachers, and behind-the-scenes personnel, Robeson County is located in the rural southeast corner of North Carolina, far from the state's more affluent industrial and commercial centers. "We're the largest county in the state," explains Monroe, "and very rural. It's a poor area and basically has a balanced tri-racial student population at our 41 schools--Native-American, African-American and Caucasian. With a turnover rate of 18 percent each year among our instructors, we're always on the lookout for quality teachers and the TTT program is a great resource. …