Medically retired after serving 11 years in the Air Force, SSgt Kenneth Scott Myers is now the Business and Technology Department Chair, Project Lead for the “be.next” Game Design Academy, Lathrop High School, in Lathrop, California . Myers served as a C-5 flight engineer and instructor. Dual-hatted as the squadron network administrator, he took care of all the computers, doing some programming and scheduling, when he wasn’t flying. At the time, little did he know that his computer experience and instructor duty would help him secure a second career working as a high school teacher.
“The medical retirement process is pretty long… so I wasn’t flying and they had me in the computer shop working network all day, so I went ahead and got my industry certifications,” recalls Myers. After his medical retirement, Myers returned home to California where a family member told him about a job working for the local school district as a network administrator, “When the lady was looking at my resume, she saw that I had been a military instructor and said we have an opening for a computer teacher, would you be interested in teaching a computer class instead of working with computer networks?” remembers Myers. He thought the offer sounded kind of fun, checked the salary, and remembered that he really liked teaching, so he accepted the job offer. For Myers, getting a teaching job really was that easy.
Some would say that he was in the right place at the right time… but he also had the right skills – thanks to his military service. “I want to say I was in the classroom within 3-4 days after being hired. And because I had a security clearance when I was in the Air Force … the district pulled my sub and I was alone with high school students on day two. It was an interesting, very fast transition,” says Myers. At the time that he began his teaching career, there were two paths to becoming a teacher in California. One was the traditional, single subject, go to college and get your teaching credentials path. The other was the career and technical education path seeking candidates with experience in a certain industry. This was the path that Myers followed with entry into the classroom immediately and over the next five years he took classes and received the necessary credentialing,
Enter Troops to Teachers. After separation, when Myers went for his Veterans Affairs (VA) appointment, he learned about Troops to Teachers (TTT). He said that the stipend from TTT helped pay for his credentialing courses and the 15 units in teaching he needed. He said working with TTT was surprisingly simple, “…the stipend was a huge help. Without it, I don’t know if I would have dropped teaching, but it would have made life a lot more difficult.” Later, in 2009, he also received a bonus for teaching in a high need school, “It was absolutely painless. They were quick to respond to questions and it’s just been great.”
As for his military service, he says it really helped him in the classroom, “The one thing that I noticed is that the military experience helped me so I didn’t panic. I didn’t get super stressed out. I was able to prioritize and I taught the high school students the same exact way (as when I was an instructor) and I still do 16 years later.” Myers says he runs his high school classes the same way he did while in the Air Force, “I expect a lot out of the kids and I push them as hard as I possibly can and they usually rise up to that.” Minus the yelling, of course, he says he doesn’t yell at his students - but he does still teach in that same Air Force method, “I give them something really hard and we kind of work backwards on it, and every single kid gets it. It’s fantastic.”
Fast forward to the present, Myers, who started teaching networking and computer applications 16 years ago, has become the project lead for a video game design charter school program. He designed the program, its curriculum and manages the program, essentially running his own school on the campus, “I've helped other schools setup their own video game design programs and developed one of the first college approved high school video game design courses. I even do speaking engagements about using video games in education, so overall this has been a fantastic second career for me.”
Written by Erin Roberts, DANTES Communications