The Troops to Teachers (TTT) program has 31 state grant offices throughout the United States to help participants with counseling, employment opportunities and financial support, when eligible. Participants looking to teach in states without a grant office receive assistance from TTT Program Office personnel in Pensacola, FL.
Delaware and New Jersey have a grant consortium to assist participants in these two states. Melissa Petaccio and her team are committed to helping veterans transition to second careers in the classroom.
The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) recently caught up with Roger Clay, a veteran who is teaching in the Indian River School District, to learn more about his transition from the United States Army into education.
DDOE partners with New Jersey's Troops to Teachers program to support the transition of veterans and members of the Armed Forces to teaching careers. Established in 1993, Troops to Teachers provides counseling and referral services to help participants meet education and licensing requirements and secure teaching positions. More than 20,000 veterans have successfully transitioned to careers in education since the program began.
DDOE: Why did you decide to enter the teaching profession?
Roger Clay: I was involved with a summer camp for children in NY, and I really enjoyed it. I thought becoming a teacher might be a good option for me.
DDOE: In what ways did your career in the military prepare you for your career in teaching?
Roger Clay: The military taught me how to handle difficult situations with poise and preparation, which has definitely helped in the classroom. I learned how to maintain a military bearing and to keep a cool head in hot situations.
DDOE: How did the Troops to Teachers program help you?
Roger Clay: Troops to Teachers provided program support and financial help. They also provided support along the way whenever I needed it to guide me through the process of becoming a teacher.
DDOE: Any advice you would offer to someone who is getting ready to retire or separate from service who is thinking about pursuing teaching as a profession?
Roger Clay: Remember what inspired you to serve in the first place. In the end, you are still serving the same people, just in a different uniform. I would also encourage others to teach with your heart. No matter what grade you're teaching, these are still kids. Students can always use advice from veterans.
DDOE: Describe your experience with the Delaware Alternative Route to Certification (ARTC) process.
Roger Clay: My experience with ARTC was positive. I was accepted into University of Delaware's Transitions to Teaching Partnership (DT3P) for individuals with a STEM, special education or world language background. What worked especially well with DT3P was the ability to reach out and get support at any time.
DDOE: Any closing thoughts about your experience that you would like to share with others?
Roger Clay: I'm very appreciative of the Indian River School District's support of those with military service. It has made working for them even better, and I would encourage others to seek out supportive colleagues. My other suggestion for new teachers is to keep a journal during your process. It helps to reflect on your successes and to learn from any failures.
Troops to Teachers Delaware State Grant Office reaches out to veterans and current service members by regularly visiting military installations, local veteran service offices, the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs and local school districts. Veterans or current service members who want more information about teaching should visit www.proudtoserveagain.com and for teaching opportunities in Delaware and New Jersey, call (800) 680-0884, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Picture caption: U.S. Army veteran Roger Clay (left) transitioned into a teaching career at Indian River High School with the help of Troops to Teachers.