Troops to Teachers, which encourages retired military personnel to teach in low-income schools, is proving popular with school districts, says the Washington Post. Compared to the average teacher, ex-military teachers are more likely to be male and non-white and to go into math, science or special education, all high-demand fields. They’re also more likely to stick with the job. And they’ve got real-world experience.
Physics teacher John Paulson likes to introduce the concept of acceleration in his Woodbridge Senior High School classroom with a little real-world example: a video clip of a nuclear-powered submarine firing a ballistic missile during training exercises off the Florida coast.
“We can look at the acceleration of that missile and how, when it hits the surface of the water, it almost stops,” Paulson tells his students. “We can follow the missile up and up and then to a target 4,000 miles away.”
Just to make it a little more real for them, Paulson notes that he’s in the video, too, hard at work in the bowels of the USS Alabama as the submarine’s executive officer, second in command.
Paulson, 55, became a rookie teacher last year, after 22 years in the Navy. He found his second career through an increasingly popular program called Troops to Teachers, which gives military personnel stipends to obtain their teaching certificates and cash bonuses if they agree to work in schools in low-income areas.
The new job was a natural transition from a career spent training young men and women for war. “I wanted to keep working with youth. I wanted to teach them what they need to know to be successful,” Paulson said.
I’ve heard from a number of retired military personnel who went from training recruits to teaching at the K-12 or college level. After teaching in the military, where students literally shape up or ship out, they find it frustrating to deal with unmotivated and unruly students.