News: Transitions made easier via Troops To Teachers program
Story by Pvt. Kathrin Forbes
JOINT BASE MCQUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURSE, N.J.— In 1994 the Department of Defense developed the Troops to Teachers program – an initiative that supports a smooth transition into the civilian workforce for service members exiting their military careers and recruits quality teachers for schools in underserved areas.
The journey from service member to civilian can be daunting, but with the assistance of your local education services office and the TTT program, it’s a rewarding possibility.
“I strive to make his or her transition as seamless as possible,” said Melissa Fantozzi, regional director of the Mid-Atlantic TTT program.
“Our service men and women who choose a second career in teaching deserve to have a program that works closely with them and provides helpful assistance in any way possible,” she said.
Fantozzi gives briefings each quarter at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst to service members looking to transition from their military career into a new career of education.
She said military life gives people the leadership skills and discipline to contribute to the civilian realm in significant ways.
“School districts see our teachers as disciplined, mature and hardworking,” Fantozzi said.
Gaylor Simons, Education Counselor at the JB MDL Education Center, also sees a positive response from the surrounding education districts.
“Civilian schools look for military personnel,” said Simons. “They’re looked upon as high commodities on the outside.”
According to Simons, the planning stage for becoming a teacher begins one year prior to the service member’s separation. To qualify for the program, a service member must already have a four-year degree. If the degree is not in education, then an additional 24 semester hours in education are required for certification. These additional hours can be obtained from any accredited university.
The education office will advise interested service members on how to obtain the 24 additional education credits required. Simons said Tuition Assistance programs can be used while the Service member completes the remainder of the active duty contract.
For those willing to commit to teaching in a high-need district, $5,000 to $10,000 in stipends are offered for assistance with the remaining credit hours. This stipend can be granted to those who have already left active duty status.
For more information about the Troops to Teachers program in New Jersey, visit www.state.nj.us/education/tttnj/events.