There are many career options for those in uniform to consider when leaving military service; but not as many have programs designed to help troops transition into specific career fields. The Troops To Teachers program is one such resource for any service member interested in teaching after leaving uniformed service.
Troops To Teachers is a program run by the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) which exists to help troops advance their military careers, but also to transition into post-military careers. Troops To Teachers is an important resource, especially in the 21st century as many communities face a lack of new teachers across a variety of school age ranges and disciplines.
Many believe America has a teacher shortage. Statistics from the Learning Policy Institute are an indication that those concerns are grounded in reality. In 2018 the Institute reported the nation was roughly 112,000 teachers short that year.
An Overview Of Troops To Teachers (TTT)
Troops To Teachers was created in 1993 to help service members, military retirees and other veterans gain education and start new careers as kindergarten through 12th grade teachers in public schools, charter schools, and Bureau of Indian Education schools.
The general idea is for those leaving military service to get assistance to accomplish these goals, but in order to get financial aid from the program the applicant must start before retiring or separating from military service.
Active duty military members, Guard and Reservists, and members of the Coast Guard are eligible to apply, but as the official site advises, “Program applications must be submitted within three years of retirement or separation to receive financial assistance.” Those who do not submit applications within the specified time frame may still get counseling and assistance but do not qualify for financial help.
What TTT Offers
The Troops To Teachers official site lists a variety of program benefits, but the one most will initially be interested in is the $5,000 stipend or $10,000 bonus (depending on eligibility). We’ll cover more about that below but other TTT benefits include:
- Transition assistance
- One-on-one counseling
- Assistance with state teacher certification and licensing
- Connections with hiring officials
These services are free to the applicant and there may also be state-level Troops To Teachers programs or resources available depending on the state. According to the TTT page at the DANTES official site, Troops To Teachers grant offices have operated in the following states:
- New York
- North Carolina
Additionally, several states have formed Troops To Teachers Grant Consortiums:
- Colorado and New Mexico
- Missouri and Iowa
- Montana and Alaska, Idaho, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming
- New Jersey and Delaware
The DANTES official site offers a searchable map for state contacts near you and you can get more information about TTT by email: [email protected] or by phone at 800-231-6242.
How TTT Works
As the DANTES site explains, Troops to Teachers is not a certification program. Instead, TTT works with a network of state offices (see the list above) to offer participants with “certification counseling and referrals for employment leads.” This is a program aimed at helping those who want to teach in civilian schools rather than Department of Defense Schools.
Troops for Teachers offers counseling in the process of becoming a teacher, including:
- Steps to becoming a teacher (depending on state requirements)
- Choosing subject matter specialties
- Choosing schools
- Choose locations to complete teacher certification
As mentioned above, cash stipends may be possible. There are two categories of financial help–stipends and bonuses. Stipends are defined as a payment of up to $5,000 which is meant to help the student pay for expenses required to get a relevant education degree, certification, or licensing. There is one caveat–the TTT stipend is not offered to those who are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
The other financial help, the bonus, is described as a payment of up to $10,000 for eligible TTT applicants “as an incentive to teach in an eligible or high need school.”
In all cases, the financial help from TTT is capped at $10,000. You may apply for both the stipend and the bonus, but the final amount you can receive is $10,000.
When applying for financial assistance, the following requirements may apply:
- Application must be received within three years of retirement/separation to qualify.
- Must have a discharge characterized as “Honorable character of service if separated or retired.”
- Those who are not retired military must “agree to serve as a member of the Selected Reserve of a reserve component of the armed forces for a minimum of three years.” This rule does not extend to those separated or retired due to physical disability.
- Applicants must agree to work for three years in either “an eligible or high need school of your choice.”
- Eligible schools are public, charter, or Bureau of Indian Affairs schools “where at least 30% of students are eligible for free/reduced lunch.” These facilities qualify for the applicant to receive a $5,000 bonus.
- A high need school is defined by DANTES as “a public, charter, or Bureau of Indian Education elementary or middle school in which at least 50% of students are eligible for free/reduced lunch or a high school where at least 40% of students are eligible for free/reduced lunch.”
Applying For TTT
You can apply for Troops To Teachers by visiting the DANTES official site and selecting Become A Teacher from the Education Programs tab. Applicants must submit an online application and include the following documentation uploaded beforehand where applicable:
- DD-214 or NGB 22
- Approved Voluntary Retirement Document
- Teaching Contract
- JROTC (DD-2767)
- Certification Program Enrollment Letter
- Teaching License/Certification
Not all states provide TTT grants. The DANTES official site states that in such states “not currently receiving grants, the Troops to Teachers Program Office will provide assistance.” The official site adds, “The TTT Program Office provides assistance to those interested in teaching in the nineteen states without a local grant office.” In such cases, call 800-231-6242 to get more information and help.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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