Gov. Joe Manchin and state Superintendent Steve Paine on Tuesday kicked off the program in West Virginia with the WVDE, the West Virginia Board of Education, the West Virginia National Guard and other special guests.
The federally funded program is designed to place veterans in classrooms across the country, including West Virginia. The program provides participants with aid in getting certified in their states and matching them up with school districts interested in hiring them. West Virginia leaders highlighted the benefits of the program at Piedmont Elementary School.
"Veterans posses a wealth of knowledge, talent, skills and experience that they can share with West Virginia students," Paine said. "Many of them have science, math and engineering backgrounds that we desperately need. They also bring a world view to the classroom that works well with our 21st Century Learning initiative to help our children succeed in a global economy."
Across the country, the Troops to Teacher program is offering what many educators say our schools need most: mature, mostly male or minority role models, who are highly motivated and willing to work in challenging environments. It also is addressing shortage areas in math, science, career and technical education and special education.
"West Virginians have a strong tradition of stepping forward to serve their country," Manchin said. "Our veterans are tremendous role models and this program offers them an opportunity to bring their sense of duty, honor and country into our classrooms. I can’t think of a better source of teaching candidates than the pool of smart, disciplined and dedicated men and women who retire from the military every year or who currently serve in the National Guard and reserves."
The Troops to Teachers program was established by the Department of Defense to help improve public school education by providing funds to recruit, prepare and support former members of the Armed Services as teachers in high need school districts. Since the program’s inception in 1994, thousands of veterans have become teachers throughout the United States.
For more information on the program in West Virginia, contact Robert Mellace in the Office of Professional Preparation at (800) 982-2378, or the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699. Information also is posted on the WVDE Web site at http://wvde.state.wv.us/troopstoteachers.