Program transitions troops to teachers

19 Oct 2004 | Lance Cpl. Shane Suzuki

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington's Watson School of Education is accepting applications for its Coalition for Transition to Teaching (CT3) program, which allows qualified applicants to become certified teachers.

The CT3 program is a federally funded program that helps people with a bachelor's degree become certified teachers with little or no cost out of pocket. Students receive a stipend to cover tuition and book costs, along with the use of a laptop computer to help complete the course work.

"Students and schools love our program because they both know the facilities and training are first class," said Lisa Keenan, mentor and recruiter for the CT3 program. "The schools especially love former military, they have so many qualities that are needed in the school environment."

The program is open to anybody, but former and retired military are given priority.

"Former military personnel make such good role models for children, it makes sense to want them as teachers," said Keenan.

Candidates must have a bachelor's degree with a major that is appropriate to the area of teaching they wish to pursue. They must also take a Praxis I test, which measures capabilities in reading, writing and math.

"To be eligible, all students have to agree to teach in the local participating school systems for at least three years," said Keenan. "This usually isn't a problem as most participants live in the surrounding areas. The schools around here are great and love our graduates."

Students can fulfill their obligation at one of the five school districts in the area; Clinton City, Columbus County, Duplin County, Jones County and Pender County.

The course involves three sessions of teaching basics and about a years worth of discipline related course work.

"Much of the course is taught at Coastal Carolina Community College, so it makes it easy for people who live near Camp Lejeune and New River Air Station to attend," said Keenan.

The current class, called a cohort, is comprised of 19 students, including many former military.

"The program is great. I couldn't get my teaching certificate while I was in the service, but I got my degree. Now I can get certified while my husband is still at Lejeune," said Angela Eastman, a former Navy Petty Officer First Class.

Along with the training, graduates of the CT3 program receive three years of mentoring from local teachers and continued support from other members of the program.

"We just don't let our students go out and fail," said Keenan. "We make sure they succeed."

Finding schools to teach at usually isn't hard for former military according to Keenan.

"People who have worked in the military have dealt with discipline issues, they are decision makers, they know how to motivate people and they are dedicated to their jobs," said Keenan. "All these things make military personnel very attractive to schools and make our graduates wonderful teachers."