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 Troops To Teachers Decade of Excellence Awards Commemorates Contributions to Education by Military Veterans

Successful military personnel share some of the same traits as successful teachers, and thanks to the California Troops to Teachers Program, local students are now reaping the benefits.

Recently, the Troops to Teachers Program held the “Decade of Service” Recognition Banquet at the Coronado Island Club, where they honored more than 25 military veterans. The 15th Anniversary recognition dinner and program formally honored dedicated, long-serving Troops to Teachers participants, who have ten or more years experience in the classroom.

“Honoring the teachers for their continued service and support to our country has turned out to be a wonderful experience for everyone involved,” said Chris Reising. Director of the Teacher Recruitment and Support Center at the SDCOE. “The event went extremely well. It was a complete honor to commemorate these unique individuals for all that they do.”

Of the 25 honorees, 10 are from San Diego County school districts: San Diego Unified School District, National Elementary School District, Escondido Union High School District, Chula Vista Elementary School District, Sweetwater Union High School District, and Poway Unified School District.

Keynote addresses were provided by several community leaders. Among them San Diego County Board of Education member Mark Anderson, and Chapman University Chancellor, Gary Brahm.

“The Troops to Teachers program is one of the most valuable programs, and does exactly what it says,” said County Board of Education Member Mark Anderson. “It brings innovative, and dedicated individuals to some of the most needy of students. The relationships between the military, the universities, and the eventual school sites is a great model of cooperation. The event was a great way to honor those who gave much in uniform, and continue to give much in our classrooms.”

The honorees come from all four branches of the military service and, according to Reising, have a retention rate of 75 percent in the last ten years. “The Troops to Teachers are qualitatively different then those we find in the general teacher candidate community,” said Reising. “The retention rate of our teachers is extremely high, as our teachers stay in their positions and can often time be found in leadership positions stabilizing school staff.”

According to Reising, 82 percent of the Troops to Teachers are male, and 42 percent of them are minorities. 25 percent teach both math and science, and 44 percent teach Special Education. “The Troops To Teachers Program focuses on hard-to-staff schools in high-needs areas, such as math, science and special education,” said Reising. “We have found that our minority teachers have a higher retention rate in the profession. Their real-life experiences, practical, organization and preparation skills are effective within schools.”

The California Troops to Teachers program is a federal program co-administered by the U.S. Departments of Education and Defense. The goal of the program is to match former military personnel and school districts. Currently there are approximately 400 Troops to Teachers participants teaching in schools throughout California.