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A 25-year-old program called Troops to Teachers helps former military members and those intending to transition out of the armed forces make education a second career. Gazette file photo.

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Veterans make good teachers because they tend to have leadership qualities, and many were instructors in the military, says Korey Brown, director of Colorado’s Troops to Teachers program.

Above all, they have a heart for service, Brown said.

“It’s a way to continue service in the community, and they understand the rewards of great instruction,” he said.

A 25-year-old program called Troops to Teachers helps former military members and those intending to transition out of the armed forces make education a second career.

For the first time, the Colorado branch is offering an informational event for the Colorado Springs community, veterans and active-duty military from any of the city’s five installations.

The seminar starts at 5 p.m. Monday at Mount Carmel Veterans Service Center, 530 Communications Circle.

School district leaders, teacher certification program representatives and active-duty or retired military and family members are invited to attend the free event. No reservation is necessary.

The event covers all facets of the program and will include time for networking, Brown said.

Information on education- related careers, such as food service, bus driving, human resources, paraprofessional and security, also will be available.

“It’s a way for candidates to interact with hiring officials and certification programs,” Brown said.

Troops to Teachers is administered locally through a Department of Defense grant to the Colorado Department of Education.

The program is helping to address Colorado’s teacher shortage, Brown said, and many participants choose subjects where the shortage is particularly high, such as math, science, foreign languages and special education.

The program is popular in the Pikes Peak region, he said. About 80 percent of the 160 classroom placements over the past 18 months statewide were local people.

“We think we’ll have double the number for next school year,” he said. “It’s really growing.”

One reason is a new Career Skills education track, which starting in August will allow active-duty service members to start training to become a teacher if they are within six months of leaving the service.

“With the programs that exist now in Colorado, it’s very difficult for active-duty service members to gain certification for being a teacher while they’re active duty,” he said.

Candidates study under one of Colorado’s 56 teacher licensure programs, including at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

The schooling needed depends on the participant’s background. A bachelor’s degree is required, so completion of undergraduate studies is the first step.

If a candidate already has a bachelor’s degree in a content area such as English, math, history or science, he or she can be hired to work as a classroom teacher while simultaneously earning state certification.

So the process can take from one day to four years, Brown said.

Troops to Teachers participants work in public, private and charter schools statewide.

“When we have a candidate ready for employment, we scour the geographical area they want to serve in and connect them with the schools and districts,” Brown said.

Participants may be eligible for a $5,000 stipend to reimburse licensing-related costs or a $10,000 bonus for teaching in a high-needs high school.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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Staff reporter, education and general news and features

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