Troops to Teachers Program

EAST BANK, W.Va. (WSAZ)-- As part of a statewide teacher training seminar in Charleston, West Virginia is pushing the Troops to Teachers Program hard.

The goal of troops to teachers is to get qualified people certified and put them in the classroom especially in rural, underserved counties.

"We also are trying to reach the individuals who want to join the program, who lets say have a mathematics degree and they have the content knowledge and they want to get certified as a teacher and all these need is those education classes to go into the classroom," said Troops to Teach Coordinator Robert Mellace.

Teacher Wally Jones spent two decades as a Marine, and has spent the last two decades in the classroom as a social studies teacher.

"I've visited all the countries in Europe, Africa and Asia and those places. I’ve been there and seen it. When I talk to them, I’m giving them a real life version of what's there and what's happening," Jones said.

Jones got his degree and certificate the standard way, four years of study at school, but still believes this program is a win-win for both the recruit and the classroom.

"I don't think you need a four year degree to come back out of the military and teach," Jones said.

The program offers up to $15 thousand dollars in bonus and stipend money, the only catch is a three year commitment to a school or county that has a need.

West Virginia’s not alone in needing teachers, The US Department of Education estimates two million teachers will be needed in the next decade to meet demand.

The idea doesn't get a blanket thumbs up, one teacher in Putnam County says being in the military does not automatically qualify someone to quickly enter the classroom as a teacher.

The state isn’t overlooking educational requirements, people interested must have been in the military at least six years, and have at least a bachelor's degree, unless they're working in vo-tech which requires at least one year of college and six years of work experience.

You can contact 1-800-982-2378 for more information, or you can check out their booth at Bridge Day this weekend.

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