Colonel John Melia Army, (retired)
Member of TTT Advisory Committee, New Hanover County Schools

".. I run a JROTC program now but trained after retiring to teach elementary school. My thoughts were that older males (that would be me) would have a better chance of being hired in elementary school where we are in very short supply. I was correct. I was hired to teach 5th grade at the school where I interned but was offered the JROTC position over the summer and took that because I could put 36 years of military service together with my new teaching skills. I will retire after this school year at age 66 with nine years teaching in NC, I hope that I can remain as a TTT mentor after retiring. I would say to our men and women out there who are considering teaching for their next career that you need to go for it! Our maturity, discipline, organization, skill sets, and team mindset are vital in education. If they are worried about being back in a college setting to obtain credentials, don't worry, you will tuck these young college kids in your back pocket. I was able to go back to school full-time for teaching credentials, 2 years. I am glad that I did not take the lateral entry route of going to school at the same time starting a teaching career."

James Heath, (retired MSgt)

Spent twenty three years in the Air Force as a Mental Health Technician. He is licensed in Exceptional Children/Behavioral and Emotional Disabilities. He is currently completing his internship in the Masters in School Administration Flex program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"I feel that teaching and mentoring young people to grow is a central human instinct. I thought abut teaching while in the military.

I chose the military profession to give me a structural set of tools to help me change the world. After completing my military career, I found that I wanted to enter teaching due to the Troops to Teachers advertising campaign I encountered.

I chose to enter this profession as a lateral entry teacher. This meant that I could enter the classroom and complete required work to meet licensure requirements while teaching. This worked out well for me and the stipend I received help tremendously in defraying the cost of tuition and books. I started my licensure process with a local university; however I changed to a Regional Alternative Licensing Center when eligible due to less stringent course requirements.

The great attraction of the lateral entry program was the opportunity to acquire needed experience under the watchful eye of a mentor, to be able to debrief and get feedback regarding your performance as well as to learn from what you see and experience within the classroom.

There is a sort of guilty feeling associated with being a beginning professional teacher. You understand that you are not the master of your trade that you are aspiring in, yet the practical experience is important to you and the students you serve. Therefore, to get into the classroom and use the skills and abilities developed during your military experience is a pathway to help in gaining the needed experience to teach.

I don't regret my military career at all. However, the rewards in teaching are different. We save the world at different rates. In teaching the rewards are often smaller and your presence is important and great. The reasons one will enter such a profession are various. To give back due to a great teacher you have had and/or an educational community that prepared you to become who you are in life. What better expertise is needed in the classrooms of America than your maturity, dedication, negotiating skills and parenting experience if you have children? Troops to Teachers go into teaching for the opportunity to mentor and interact with young people, to get closer to their community, and to awaken young minds. Individuals with military experience have the drive and commitment to be successful teachers. Troops to Teachers combine enthusiasm and dedication of new teachers with deep understanding of subjects such as mathematics, science, literature, or technology."